Inspired by one of her favourite childhood books, "Where The Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak, one line in particular resonated with Elaine Chen-Fernandez — "There should be a place where only the things you want to happen, happen," Elaine Chen-Fernandez envisioned a space dedicated to fostering connectivity and collaboration within Hong Kong's creative community. A platform for cultivating creativity, a place for creatives "to let their imagination run wild."
Elaine has journeyed somewhat to get where she is today. While working for Conde Nast in Los Angeles as a travel, food, and lifestyle photographer, her mum was diagnosed with cancer, and when her mum lost her battle, she found herself searching for meaning. Knowing she would be the steward of her legacy, [Elaine's grandfather is Thomas Chen Tseng-tao, one of the founders of the Hong Kong property development Hang Lung Group], and not comfortable making money for money's sake, Elaine turned to Impact Investing to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Elaine believes we must contribute our resources, our time, and our voice to help make a difference, and together with her partner Kayla Wong they use their legacy to fight for a more equal and ethical world [Kayla's father is actor Michael Wong, her mother is supermodel Janet Ma.]
Elaine met Kayla at a Redress event— one of the sustainable fashion brands in which Elaine invests. Kayla's fashion line, Basics for Basics, makes ethically produced pieces from organic cotton, empowering women in different communities in the process.
Elaine is also a co-founder of Photographers for Hope, an initiative led by photographers who use images to support social change—using their passion for photography to tell stories that will inspire action and foster a stronger global community. She is also a vocal and influential LGBTQ activist.
For the WILD LOT interior, Elaine collaborated with Yuki To of YTO Interior Design. "Elaine has a lot of creative and colourful ideas and knew what she wanted, my role was to help achieve a flexible space that works for designers and artists and as an event space— keeping the vibe, we get off Elaine and The Wild Lot Crew."
Set in an old low rise Hong Kong building, the space feels welcoming— its light and open with leafy views to the streets. It's an old building, and they have worked with this, keeping an ancien Hong Kong vibe through the railings, washroom door, the bespoke wallpaper on the ceiling beam, and the tiling. Elaine's personal pieces make it feel real, homely, and inviting; skateboard decks from her collection hang in the gallery space, including those from the Los Angeles-based Iranian artist Leila Nazarian who uses her art to empower girls to do what they love in life.
The fabulous mural that greets you from the street is by Tattoo Artist Rich Phipson of Iconoglyphs, whose work features bold, graphic forms inspired by Asian imagery and animals. "Elaine wanted something that resonated with her vision—an oasis in a concrete jungle that is energetic and unique," Rich tells me. The nature inspiration continues inside with a living wall by Summer Rayne Oakes, who believes in bringing plants and humans closer together.
Hong Kong-based French artist and mural supremo Elsa Jean Dedieu of Elsa Jean Dedieu Studio was the go-to artist to add her magic upstairs. Well known for her murals that colour the walls of SoHo, she tells me, "The project was pretty simple as I had an incredible muse in Elaine, and just had to extract a few details to create Elaine's Jungle. Being surrounded by trees, I wanted to bring the nature inside. Elaine is a huge fan of Bird of Paradise flowers, so I decided to create a full wall of them with a stylised version of Elaine playing between the leaves. Fortunately, she loved it and respected my creativity, and I didn't have to change anything."
The interiors feature where possible sustainable, recycled pieces and creations from waste. Asahi and Coca Cola racks Elaine has collected over the years, metal containers adapted as chairs and tables, and the hanging lights are up-cycled Kowloon Dairy milk bottles.
Image Credit: Daniel Murray, Elsa Jean Dedieu, Anji Connell
Anji Connell is an interior architect, garden designer and self-proclaimed nomad who regularly writes about art, design, lifestyle and travel from her globe-trotting adventures. Known for her bubbly persona and even more exuberant sense of style, Anji's portfolio spans everything from interior styling to furniture and landscape design for some of the world's most beautiful spaces. For now, you will find her