Ilse Crawford’s design for Duddell’s has helped put this arty Hong Kong watering-hole on the map…
BY SOPHIE DAVIES
Buzzy, tropical-modern metropolis Hong Kong is one of Asia’s premier playgrounds, but what’s been missing for a while in this mall-mad city are culture-smart hangouts. Well, not any more…
Word is spreading among Hong Kong’s art set about chic salon Duddell’s, a two-floor gallery space, restaurant and bar starring interiors by London-based designer Ilse Crawford. The Central location is hard to beat, atop fashion label Shanghai Tang’s gorgeous, flagship store. The food is a wow, with authentic Cantonese cuisine (care of chef Siu Hin Chi), vintage cocktails and a canny edit of classic old-world wines. Rotating exhibitions, curated by artists such as Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, and screenings keep the conversation flowing, while the lush garden terrace beckons for alfresco socialising.
Combining restrained elegance and laid-back comfort, Studioilse's decor offers a nod to the colonial gentlemen’s clubs of old, but updated for a more casual, contemporary scene. Surfaces are ravishing, from the grainy travertine staircase to the calming grey paint on walls. Meet pals for lunch or dinner in the third-floor dining room, where yellow velvet banquettes, ceramic ‘Gooseberry’ pendant lights by the UK’s Hand & Eye Studio and delicate Studioilse screens create a convivial atmosphere. Then peruse artworks as you ascend to the bar.
At last May’s Art Basel, the upstairs chill-out lounge was a hub for culture vultures, sipping and supping on day-long dim sum. Modern Italian furniture lends an international feel – helped by the very-dare-you blue Le Corbusier sofa for Cassina in a hot-pink frame – without sacrificing Hong Kong’s roots. Another highlight is the plant-packed adjacent terrace, described by Crawford as ‘a jungle in the urban jungle.’ Yenn Wong, who co-founded Duddell's with fellow movers and shakers Alan Lo and Paolo Pong, puts it perfectly: ‘It’s like being in the home of an art collector who also happens to have a Michelin-starred Cantonese chef and an award-winning mixologist.’