A Modern Orient

By Alison Embrey Medina


Cultural contrast is the norm in Hong Kong, a city where vestiges of Chinese heritage, Taoist temples and ancient monuments live side by side with European colonial history, modern architecture and soaring skyscrapers.

A plethora of luxury shopping venues—such as the beautifully designed Pacific Place mall on the Queensway in Admiralty, Hong Kong Island—pair with lush concentrations of boutiques and street retail in the more residential areas of Kowloon.

But as many culturally diverse towns go, the attitude of the consumer is fickle. “Any trend can only stay relevant for a few months or a year if they are lucky,” says Vicky Chan, director of Avoid
Obvious Architects, with offices in Hong Kong and New York. “Many shops close after two years. Pop-up [retail] is becoming more popular due to this reason.” Chan adds that a sentiment toward art and craft is quite popular now, and that even big-name retailers are experimenting with branding new stores with boutique names in order to put off a start-up vibe.

Foxglove


Designed by NC Design and Architecture, this speakeasy restaurant is completely incognito. Disguised as a high-end umbrella shop—Fox Shop—the retail-themed storefront leads to a secret door (you have to know which umbrella handle to touch) in the back of the boutique that allows access to an aviation-themed restaurant.
Photo courtesy of Foxglove

 

PMQ


Located in a former police dormitory, the converted buildings of PMQ now house art studios, eateries and shops with some of the most cutting-edge design in Hong Kong. Most of the designers inhabited here use half their space for their shops, and the other half as studios, so the customer gets full access to the design process.
Photo courtesy of PMQ

 

Langham Place Mall


A unique layout makes this commercial skyscraper complex and shopping mall stand out in a sea of others. The vertical mall works almost like the Guggenheim in New York, where visitors are meant to traverse the 15 floors (and 600,000 sq. ft. of retail space) via a long escalator and spiral their way down to see all of the small shops. An architectural feature on level 13—The Digital Sky—projects digital images onto the ceiling of the mall for dramatic affect.
Photo courtesy of LANGHAM PLACE

 

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