World-renowned architect André Fu is known for his modernist sensibilities and distinctive ability to bring a calm simplicity to interior spaces. His talent for creating contemporary spaces is evident thanks to his many prestigious projects, from The Waldorf Astoria, Bangkok, to St. Regis, Hong Kong, naming but a few.
His standalone lifestyle collection, André Fu Living, of beautiful homeware and decorative accessories, encapsulates the key elements of his style. Inspired by childhood memories of significant places and different cultures, the brand celebrates his nomadic life and personal experience of the world of hospitality.
Celebrating the brand launch at AMARA, André Fu talks to us about his home collection and shares top interior tips...
What first inspired you to become an architect and what keeps you designing today?
When I was about eight I started drawing mazes and I’d pass them to my classmates to work their way out of them. Around that time I remember my mother saying to me: “Imagine if you were to become a designer or an architect; not only could you design an actual building, you could even design the towels that go into the room.” During the days of my study in the UK, I already had the idea that I would pursue a career related to creativity, and because I come from quite a traditional family – the mentality is that kids need to have some sort of professional qualification – architecture seemed a natural route.
I enjoy the fact that I’m creating at one particular moment but it won’t be realized until quite a long time away. I enjoy that sense of process; how you can make a blank canvas into something that is real – a place where people really sleep, a restaurant that people really dine in.
I am increasingly comfortable about going back to places I’ve created. There is nothing more exciting than seeing the way people use a space.
What led to the inception of your André Fu Living collection, has it always been something you’ve wanted to do?
I had the vision to create a lifestyle collection of beautiful homeware and decorative accessories to encapsulate the key elements of my style. It is very much a personal project, one that is truthful to my personal aesthetics and story.
In many ways, the evolving collection is deeply inspired by my childhood memories of significant places and different cultures; it celebrates my own nomadic life and my personal experience of the world of hospitality.
We are living in an era of digital times with constant social media distractions, unlike the generations before us. It is important to be able to step back. This means having time and space to reflect on our personal journey. This echoes my strong belief that we need to learn from the past in order to foster creativity. To me, true luxury is in the experience and not just the aesthetics.
If you had to pick one, what’s your favourite piece from your lifestyle collection and why?
I am very fond of the Artisan Brush tableware collection as it exudes an aesthetic that celebrates the quietly powerful emotions that a simple artistic brushstroke embraces. The palette of mineral blue, highlighted with gold plating, is also timeless.
The carefully curated shapes are also considered to accommodate both western and eastern dining – making a comprehensive range to cater to modern-day dining habits.
How did your creative process differ from designing a building or space, to designing a homeware line?
There is a big difference between designing spaces and objects. The former is all-encompassing because you have to consider every element, every piece of furniture as part of the experience. Whereas with objects, you’re designing in the hope of projecting qualities of the brand beyond the product itself.
Can you tell us about your own home style and what your favourite home space is and why?
I live in a duplex apartment in the south side of Hong Kong with a vast balcony that juts out to embrace a 360-degree view of the city’s intriguing deep water bay and middle island. I love my balcony, and, as my daily schedule has become increasingly demanding, I thought that if my personal home can physically evoke that sense of retreat or just an escape from the urbanity, that would be something I would really appreciate.
What are your top tips on adding contemporary style to an interior?
I am a great believer in adding decorative table lamps to interiors as they evoke a sensuous glow in an environment. A space would immediately be transformed into a residential ambience.
How do you think the luxury landscape has changed in recent times and what influence has this had on your work?
I have always described my works around the ethos of ‘relaxed luxury’ as luxury is no longer about the decadence of the material or the visual appearance of a space. Instead, the intrinsic quality of a room, the thoughtfulness of its design and the ultimate sense of comfort correlate to the way I see what luxury is these days. The essence of the experience is quintessentially what I seek to infuse into my work.
What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by the design industry today?
The world has undergone a prolonged period of crisis this year. With the community here adhering to very cautious health and safety measures, I guess there are lessons to be learned by all and it brought everyone closer together. As a designer, I believe sustainability in the work that I do has become increasingly important. We have always been cautious to opt for renewable sources of materials, alongside opting for lighting systems that are energy efficient in all circumstances. I guess there are simple solutions to the subject that shall achieve the desired visual language with a good cause.
If you could see your André Fu Living collection in anyone’s home past or present, who would it be and why?
I believe the aesthetic that my brand brings is one that is timeless and adaptable to any interiors. I would imagine it is a brand that suits a modern thinker that appreciates authenticity.
How do you think interior design will change in the upcoming ‘20s and do you have any style predictions for the year ahead?
The process and the timely duration that is needed to realize an interior is typically the biggest challenge – a hotel, for example, would require 4 to 6 years to complete and there are so many parties and consultants that are involved. It is therefore not the easiest task to remain truthful to the original vision towards the completion of the works.
Meanwhile, to create a product that could remain valid and relevant to the evolving trends is also another key challenge.
Looking at my personal style predictions for the year ahead, I believe it is a critical moment for designers to demonstrate how design could adapt to challenging circumstances, and ultimately serve as an enhancement to the way we live.