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Imperfect Wabi Sabi Residence

NC Design & Architecture used a number of naturally faulty materials in this Hong Kong apartment, designed according to Wabi-Sabi’s Japanese philosophy.

The owners wanted to see a highly functional space that would look nice and age well. The designers decided that wabi-sabi is perfect for this – it’s about impermanence and imperfection, and it celebrates natural objects and processes. This was carried over into the apartment through the use of natural materials such as wood and marble, as well as “imperfect” surfaces such as oxidized bronze and textured plaster.

The 157-square-meter apartment is divided into three main sections – a living room, bedroom, and bathroom – separated by darkened passages. A kitchen, guest toilet and study are to the rear of the floor plan.

The apartment is entered through a dark anteroom with wood. This immediately leads to a living room that was conceived as a “sculpture garden”. Storage units are hidden behind the walls of the room, while the TV and a door are hidden by plasterboard. An oxidized bronze plate attached to the panels doubles as a handle that opens the television cabinet. A couple of slabs of marble that run the length of the plastered wall of the room hide a sound system. The panels also act as steps leading to a raised, wood-clad passage inspired by a traditional Genkan – a sunken area at the entrance to Japanese homes where residents take off their shoes.

Next to the hall is the master bedroom, which was designed as a “haven” with beige textured walls, a bed frame upholstered with leather and dark wood cabinets. All the details of the bathroom are hidden in two pillars clad in marble. The room was also given a hand-brushed plaster floor, which is supposed to soothe bare feet and create a feeling of serenity. The dressing room merges with the bathroom, offers an uninterrupted, fluid ambience and makes it easier to relax after a hard day and to prepare for a good night’s sleep.

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