Interior designer Britta Butler converted a 1,600 square foot commercial flat into a habitable living space-cum-workspace for a digital creative in Hong Kong.
Once you are inside the Pok Fu Lam industrial building flat, it’s not immediately clear what you’re in. A makeshift living space? An industrial hangout spot? An open-plan office? The place came onto the market some years ago, and it was rented by a digital creative living in Hong Kong, who simply wanted an office-cum-residence.
“We designed a multi-purpose creative space that serves as both a workspace and a place to reside, especially during the mandatory periods of working from home,” said Britta Butler, design director/founder of B Squared Design.
Many industrial buildings have almost next to no charm: derelict interiors, greyish concrete walls, small windows that do no more than obstruct the view outside; they are spaces to do heavy manual labour in rather than live in. Transforming this space into a cool, agile dwelling was understandably no easy task.
Butler’s client has made a career of producing digital content for seminars and large corporations, and given the ever-changing digital landscape, the space needed to be adaptable to his work, culture and lifestyle. “Flexibility was big in the brief and the open plan particularly lent itself to this request. The place could be modified by shifting the walls, and providing access to multiple uses,” the designer explained.
The space feels comfortably spontaneous with its eclectic mix of the industrial and modern, as befits the creative work the client does there. The living/dining room is the heart of the house, with a poured concrete platform setting up a stage where live presentations, videos and movie watching take place – an inspiring venue to showcase capabilities and creativity.
Butler knows well that inspirational bursts can come in many forms. The dining zone, with its large wooden table, is a communal area used for events and brainstorming sessions. It even has an ultra-chic statement chandelier to boot, with iron chains dangling from above.
“The lighting fixture harkens back to the industrial bones of the loft with its aluminium chains. It adds an unexpected layer of sophistication.” The adjacent open kitchen has an island: if the team needs to leave the dining table and head to the kitchen for a drink or a snack during a brainstorming meeting, they can do it with ease.
Meandering through the space, Butler’s signature style is everywhere, not least the sleek black-and-white tone. “I am definitely drawn to black and white. It’s a clean, contemporary palette that never goes out of style,” she says, adding the colour combo has a powerful impact in building up the mood of a room.
In the bedroom, for instance, the black-and-white hue creates an almost cocoon-like quietude. It’s a much more reflective, personal environment, far removed from the communal zone where teamwork and engagement are king. “The bedroom is a tranquil zone. The resident should be able to take a break from the rest of the more active areas,” says Butler, who made use of a folding door to make a demarcation between work and living.
It brings to mind the accordion door that’s commonplace in traditional Hong Kong storefronts. The Murphy bed, in particular, is one of B Squared Design’s most beloved furniture: the mattress and legs can be raised and tucked away into the wall, opening up the bedroom’s flexibility for other purposes. There’s also an en suite bathroom; the black-and-white colour scheme giving it a crisp, playful look that’s anything, but boring.
The design of the study and storage room naturally takes a back seat. The décor of the study is kept to a minimum and without extraneous distractions and noise, the client can focus on the task at hand. Elsewhere, the cabinets and shelves make it easy to store and access all the post-production digital work, videos, and supplies.