Creating a sanctuary of calm in a buzzing locale like Macau’s Cotai Strip – counting some of the world’s most lavish resorts and casinos as neighbours – may be a challenge, but it’s one that Max Lam Designs has approached with elegance and deceptive effortlessness for Sky Oasis, a collection of luxury apartments by property developer Yoo.

The entrance is punctuated by delicate flora accents

The brief was to produce a comfortable and attractive show flat that featured Oriental elements. With 3,000sqft of real estate in their hands, the award-winning, Hong Kong-based design firm set to work on an abode of quiet elegance.

Natural materials like wood, stone and pebbles dominate the space

Evocative of the natural world, the flat is dominated by hues and textures of stone and wood, pebble, soil, and granite. In the living room, a light grey rug depicts silhouettes of branches, complementing the room’s natural-world motif alongside stone-topped twin coffee tables and armchairs with a pop of terracotta.

Max Lam collaborated with many artists on specially commissioned works

In the open-plan bar and dining area, an installation of decorative wooden planks run along the wall to one side of the room. The bar is illuminated from underneath, while lunar-like lighting fixtures above the dining table create a soft, moody glow – all demonstrative of Max’s talents as a lighting designer, as well.

Chinese ink paintings and delicate tea ware create the perfect environ for a moment of calm in the tea room

From here, a semi-open area connects to the master bedroom. Originally a windowless room, this area proved one of the biggest challenges in designing the flat, which Max eventually resolved by creating an entirely new addition to the space: a tea room.

Demarcating the area is a mustard-coloured floor mat, furnished with a low table and floor cushions. A gold-thread painting by sculptor and graphic designer Raymond Pang is displayed by the entrance, across an ink piece by San Chiu Yan – two among several artworks specially commissioned for the project.

It is these artworks that imbue the residence with character, in fact. As part of the creative process, Max enlisted artists with whom to design the interiors. “Collaborating with artists has been on my mind for many years,” says Max, who knows the featured artists personally. “Some are my tutors in ceramics class, others I know from art fairs or their exhibitions.” The project, incidentally, allowed for such a collaboration, thanks to the size of the space and the available timeframe, along with the creative freedom given to the design team.

Carefully appointed indirect lighting imbues the master bedroom with a soft, alluring glow

The centerpiece of the show flat is easily the wall dividing the tea room from the living area, featuring a curving wood installation and a ceramic vase by Ryan Hui and Wy Lee, of handmade ceramics studio Toki Nashiki. Inside, Ikebana – Japanese floral arrangement – by Be Tabula Rasa studio completes the piece. It’s also Max’s favourite part of the apartment.

More details like these, predominantly from the artworks, permeate the home. Behind the vase and installation, a screen can be drawn to create privacy in the tea room. There, revolving screens open up or close off the master bedroom, where a Sakura-patterned panel mirrors that of the bed’s headboard.

Calligraphy works by artist Packy Lai are displayed in the dining room, while home accessories in copper, by designer Chan Po Fung, serve as accents throughout the space. Knotted art, by artist Zoe Siu of ZO-EE, hang on door handles, said to bring blessings to the home. Heightening the overall ambience, Xavier Tsang of BeCandle created a custom-made scent of green tea and sandalwood just for the flat.

“The artworks, the craftsmanship, ceramics, calligraphy and floral arrangements, together with the interior design create a sense of Zen-inspired living,” says Max. “Beauty lives in the details – details encourage people to look inwards.”

Rich in detail, ambience, and character, the show flat – titled ‘Inward Journey’ – is a sanctuary of calm, the perfect retreat after a day out in the bright and buzzing Cotai Strip, and beyond.

Photography: Dick Liu

See also: The Future of Living: What it Means to Live in the 21st Century and Beyond

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