The Next Generation
Kevin Lim’s firm, OpenUU, helped design a private Hong Kong gallery for his father, William Lim of CL3 Architects.
Alexandra A. Seno -- Interior Design, 8/1/2011 6:40:00 PM
Just a 15-minute drive from Hong Kong's luxury shopping district, the Wong Chuk Hang neighborhood was known, until recently, only for grotty factories and warehouses. The fact that this utilitarian area is increasingly home to art galleries, architecture firms, fashion ateliers, and the odd yoga studio is a change that reflects the island's emergence as an international cultural hub. It's evolution not revolution, however. When CL3 Architects managing director William Lim bought a unit in a Wong Chuk Hang industrial tower, the 5,300-square-foot space was storage-filled to the ceiling with boxes. Even today, visitors to what has become his private gallery and studio have to dodge the delivery carts, rushing from the lobby to the loading bay, and share the cargo elevator with rolling cages of shredded paper, destined for recycling plants. The journey continues on the 19th floor with a walk past a watch factory and through Lim's steel front gate, into a place radically transformed.
"I wear different hats. I needed the space to function not only for my collection and my own work but also for gatherings," the much-in-demand architect, prominent artist, and active patron says. "What was most important was the size of the space, which is unusually large for Hong Kong, and the windows on both ends." To inject a "playful character," as he describes it, he brought in his own 26-year-old son. Kevin Lim and two fellow Cornell University architecture grads, Eddy Man Kim and Edward Yujoong Kim, together operate OpenUU, a "virtual design studio," from their homes in Brooklyn, New York, and Cambridge, Massachusetts-meaning extensive e-mail, phone, and video communication. The studio has now cooperated with CL3 on a total of four projects.
It was unsurprisingly Kevin Lim who made the trip home to Hong Kong to visit the site before the four-month renovation. That was when he realized it would require one major move to cope with the variations in programming. Placing an open library on a platform in the center of the floor would separate the multiple zones while informing a visitor how to navigate between them. In addition, the platform itself-a rectangle with a slice off one corner-could serve as seating for projections and screenings and storage for paperwork. "Our research determined that the stock material in Hong Kong is the 1-by-2-meter plywood sheet, so that became the basis for what we did," Eddy Man Kim explains. Wrapping three sides of the clear-finished plywood platform is plywood shelving, painted black. William Lim assigns its individual cubbies to books on different artists he admires and collects.
Collecting was inevitable for him, he believes. "Architects, as a profession, study objects," he points out. He installed most of the 50 or so pieces here in a largely unfurnished area at the far end of the space. While an ardent supporter of such local artists as Pak Sheung Chuen, who has represented Hong Kong at the Biennale di Venezia, William Lim has also bought from the mainland, including a marble plate by Ai Weiwei. Among the Western stars are Dennis Oppenheim and Julian Opie. As an architect, furthermore, William Lim has found himself attracted to art that might be mistaken for design objects. A Dutch artist's painted wood sculpture could be a De Stijl maquette for a cluster of buildings. A South Korean's suspended construction in stainless steel and aluminum could be a helicopter or a satellite.
So as not to distract from the art, William Lim chose white paint for the walls and ceiling and white tile for the floor everywhere but the library platform and the corner kitchen system, a showroom sample bought at a discount. In the opposite corner is a sitting area with a well-worn red sofa, a traditional Chinese rosewood bench, and a cocktail table that he made from two trolleys, a bit like Gae Aulenti's postmodern table on wheels. Between the kitchen and sitting area, teak scholar's chairs surround a long dining table, which doubles as a desk.
Breaking through an adjacent wall created a balcony facing a verdant hillside. When William Lim hosts dinner lectures and other events here, in his capacity as a board member of the art space Para/Site and the Asia Art Archive, guests mingle around the table before drifting out to the balcony to enjoy a chat in the cool breeze. Expect a similar scene on an evening this November when Grotto Fine Art unveils its second solo exhibit of his oil paintings.
Photography by Nirut Benjabanpot.
new bedford interiors: drapery workshop. man hing co.: general contractor.
MARC & CHANTEL DESIGN: PILLOWS (LIBRARY, SITTING AREA).
CUSTOMADE CARPET MANUFACTURING: CUSTOM RUG (SITTING AREA).
ANGLEPOISE THROUGH LANE CRAWFORD: LAMP.
CHEN MI JI CULTURAL PRODUCTION CO.: SOFA.
WAI HING FURNITURE: BENCH (SITTING AREA), CHAIRS (DINING AREA), CABINETRY, FLOORING (KITCHEN).
ZODIAC LIGHTING: TRACK LIGHTING.
IMPERIAL CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES: PAINT.