Sleek in the City

Function meets minimalism in a Hong Kong family apartment by Human w / Design


In Hong Kong, locally based studio Human w / Design have created a highly minimalist and extremely functional space for a family of four.  

Working with only 45 square metres of living space, the designers effortlessly divided the apartment into a three-bedroom home to meet the client’s requirements. As co-founder of Human w / Design Kevin Wong explains, ‘they wanted us to redesign the 19-year-old apartment into a minimal, natural and practical space to fit their living habits.’

This melding of practical yet minimalist design runs throughout the apartment. ‘We tried to hide the things that are seldom used and avoided any unnecessary design elements,’ Wong shares. An elm wall panel in the living area conceals both the kitchen and bathroom doors, and as the family rarely use their dining table, a foldable version was chosen to maximise the living space. Several foldable dining chairs from Decor8 can be stored in a cabinet behind the sofa (also Decor8) and the majority of the furniture was custom designed by the studio.

As per the clients’ brief, traditional design elements punctuate the apartment and evoke feelings of childhood nostalgia, such as 1980’s style glass blocks and the use of bluegrass colours in one bedroom. The bunk bed design for the two children is refreshingly sleek, with only a black steel frame forming a ladder and the upper bed barrier. As the room offers the largest surface area sin the apartment, raised flooring is used to capitalise on storage space.

The designers expertly used spatial limitations to inspire their materials palette. ‘Due to the structural restrictions of the building, we believe adding the new bedroom at the window-side area of the original living room was the most appropriate approach,’ co-founder of Human w / Design Ricky Fu explains. ‘We decided to use reeded glass block as the partition to separate the new bedroom and living area to maximise natural daylight penetration while preserving a certain degree of privacy.’

This glass block wall is one of the home’s most striking features and creates a sense of spaciousness and orderliness. The glass material ensures plenty of light flows into the home, and a striking lighting effect happens between day and night time. The TV and TV cabinet are hung on a steel post detached from the glass wall, also maximising the daylight in the shared space.  

An eye-catching black frieze detailing in the living room is actually a design response to the materials’ height restrictions. The standard size of the glass blocks and the warm elm wood panels ensured a gap was created between the top of the materials and the ceiling soffits. So the designers decided to fill this gap with the detailing which also holds a slim LED strip inside, creating a warm and calm ambiance in the living room.

This Hong Kong family apartment embraces functionality at its core while effortlessly imbuing a sense of sleek minimalism.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Courtesy of Human w / Design