Preserving Hong Kong’s heritage is not usually a priority for real-estate developers, who would generally raze a historic building to the ground in favour of building high-rise condominiums.
This longstanding trend for profit over preservation has made detached homes scarce in the city, especially those built during colonial times. Hins Cheung was lucky enough to come across one of the few for rent at Felix Villas – an exclusive housing estate owned by the University of Hong Kong, comprising eight mansions built in the 1920s.
As a Cantopop star and an avid home decorator, Hins had the natural tendency to let his creativity run wild in the space. But he didn’t let his own aesthetic dictate the interiors; rather, he let the home’s spirit guide his design. I spent a week in the home, which was completely bare at the time, and just let it ‘speak’ to me,” he recalls.
While his previous flats in Hong Kong had been quite different, ranging from pared-back industrial loft to Thai resort chic, his intuition led him to fill the Felix Villas house with antiques and pieces reflecting the Roaring Twenties. The interiors are swathed in decadent upholstery sourced from around the world, which were custom-made into elaborate curtains that dramatically drape corridors and frame large windows, and paired with objets d’art carefully selected from flea markets in Paris and across the rest of Europe.
I’m celebrating a time when people didn’t focus so much on material things and appreciated the beauty of everyday objects within their surroundings.
The structure was left untouched with the exception of minor repairs, as Hins wanted to respect the integrity of the space. The contractor told me that I have to close the doors very delicately, because the windows can easily break and they cannot be replaced – people have lost the art of making windows like these,” he says.
As an assembled whole, the home becomes a history lesson and a lavish feast for the eyes, with unexpected surprises found around every corner. I’m not revering colonialism, because it’s a shameful mark on our history,” says Hins. Instead, I’m celebrating a time when people didn’t focus so much on material things and appreciated the beauty of everyday objects within their surroundings.”
I have a feeling that I will return to this space one day – and I hope to live out my days here.
Much love and dedication was invested into the home, although Hins never planned on staying in the house for long. He’d leased it for two years with the intention of taking refuge here as a place to compose and write new songs. The house did the job and became the source of inspiration for his latest album, Felix. Though Hins will be moving on to another flat, the romantic nostalgia of the place remains. He says, I have a feeling that I will return to this space one day – and I hope to live out my days here.”
Click through the gallery below for more of a glimpse into Hins’ beautiful former home.
This story was originally published in our June 2015 issue as ‘Passion Project.’ Stay tuned for our October issue in celebration of our 38th anniversary, soon on newsstands!
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