HONG KONG: The new home of cool

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HONG KONG: The new home of cool

From sky-high skyscrapers to designer shopping malls, Hong Kong has long established itself as an innovative destination to which visitors flock year after year. But there's a new side to the city - it's emerging as one of Asia's leading design hubs, whether it's modern art installations, quirky interiors boutiques or avant-garde clothing

By Julianna Barnaby

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Published: Thu 10 Mar 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Mar 2016, 1:18 PM

Hong Kong needs no introduction. It's one of the world's most eclectic hubs, a truly international destination with seemingly endless options for visitors new to the city. Over the last few years, Hong Kong has been quietly building another reputation for itself: as one of Asia's leading design hubs. Discover these design hotspots and explore a new side of Hong Kong.
Any design aficionado should head to PMQ (35 Aberdeen Street, Central). This large and imposing concrete monolith has previously been both a school and quarters for married policemen but has recently been transformed into the home of over 100 small enterprises. It bills itself as Hong Kong's home of creative lifestyle experiences.

Visitors can choose from an array of boutiques, restaurants and galleries.
The Good Design Store (H401, PMQ) is managed by the Japanese Institute of Design and showcases homeware, gifts and gadgets of Japanese origin. From beautifully-shaped sake sets to modern furniture, shoppers will love their curated collection of award-winning items. Another notable homeware store is Home.Works (S506, PMQ), which seeks to encourage mindful living with its simple must-have pieces.
Fashion-wise, there are few destinations as exciting as Hong Kong for the opportunity to discover new designers and collectible pieces to add to your wardrobe. GumGumGum (22/F, Wing Wah Indus-?trial Building, 677 King's Road, Quarry Bay) aims ?to bring local talents in the fashion and arts industries to the forefront.
With over 100 brands, GumGumGum is a one-?stop shop for modern Asian fashion. Whether it's androgynous shirts from quirky brand Love LRE, or crisp white unisex dresses from Sketcharound, GGG's collection is both inspired and functional. GGG also hosts pop-up fashion and art brands, ensuring that no two visits are ever the same.
Still looking for further fashion options? HAK (H202, PMQ) is the place to go to. Founder, up and coming fashion designer Wong Wai Ling, focuses on simple conceptual clothing for contemporary living. The shop also features a few choice items for the home. Pick up a handmade candle from Tanda: made with soy with bamboo wicks, their gold-flecked casings ensure they look almost as good as they smell.
Outside of PMQ, those looking for further homeware inspiration should head to Gough Street. Located in mid-levels, Gough Street is dotted with some of the city's trendiest stores. Of these, the biggest, Homeless (29 Gough Street, Central), is packed with modern picks large and small. From intricately designed tableware to huge industrial style cabinets, it's an eclectic emporium bringing a new meaning to the term lifestyle store.
While on Gough Street, take a trip to WOAW (World of Amazing Wonders: 11 Gough St, Central) - a concept and lifestyle store retailing gadgets, stationery, fashion accessories - essentially a cornucopia of treasures you never knew that you needed but will definitely want.
WOAW also boasts one of Hong Kong's best coffee shops (Elephant Grounds) tucked away in the back of the store. The white chocolate and matcha cookies are the perfect foil to one of their speciality drip coffees.
Art lovers should head to Para/Site (22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King's Road, Quarry Bay) - Hong Kong's leading contemporary art centre. This large venue hosts a range of exhibitions and activities, both of its own and in collaboration with other museums and galleries worldwide.
Para/Site's current exhibition The World Is Our Home: A Poem On Abstraction explores the development of modern Asian art from the post-war era. Featuring pieces from artists such as Tomie Ohtake, Tang Chang, Robert Motherwell and Bruce Nauman, it's an interesting experience that should not be missed.
It's no great surprise that in a city where food is plentiful and delicious, there are a growing number of innovative restaurants popping up. Classy, elegant and refined (not to mention with two Michelin stars to its name), Duddell's (Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central) is a cultural and social destination for those with an interest in the arts. This translates to a programme featuring screenings of award-winning films, discussion panels and art exhibitions. The exhibitions are notable, not only for their quality, but for the fact that they are often curated from private art collections and include pieces rarely shown to the public elsewhere.
When you've exhausted the activities on offer, settle ?down in the Duddell's restaurant and sample their range ?of inspired dishes (the duck broth with black truffle and braised fresh crab claw with birds nest and caviar being particular favourites).
Another restaurant is MyHouse in Wan Chai (26/F QRE Plaza, 202 Queens Road East, Wan Chai), which opened in October last year. More than just a restaurant, MyHouse also has live music venue and an art space housed in a vast area. The interior was designed by Mohamed Ghamlouch of Minus Collective and incorporates natural materials and textures in a statement style.
The menu focuses on fresh and flavourful organic and ?free-range small dishes with a European focus. Visitors can browse through their varied vinyl selection and listen to their picks in one of the eight private listening stations.
Another interesting find is Mercedes me (Shop C-D, G/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen's Road Central). The first of its kind in the world, Mercedes me promises to immerse visitors in the Mercedes lifestyle. It's a car showroom, as one would expect from Mercedes-Benz, but it also functions as a retail space, lounge and restaurant. Mercedes have partnered up with Hong Kong restaurant legends Maximal Concepts to create a menu that's an exercise in luxury: steak tartare, Hamachi tiradito (Hamachi fish with a mango and lemon dressing) and baked angel hair pasta with seaweed, roasted garlic aioli and prawns just to name but a few.
Unless you're willing to make a superhuman effort, or are staying for a longer period of time, it's difficult to experience all Hong Kong has to offer in one trip. The perfect excuse then, to book your next flight.

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