Diamonds in the rough

by SUZANNE MIAO on Mar 13, 2012 in Interiors , Lifestyle
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Beauty isn’t often found where you least expect it, least of all among the warren of narrow streets and back alleys of Hong Kong island, but JaaBar and JaaKitchen are true gems

You would never accidentally stumble across JaaBar; if you don’t know where it is, you’ll never know it’s there. Find it, though, and it’s a little like discovering the mythical Shangri-la or Bali-ha’i… or even Dr Who’s Tardis.

Unlike the Tardis, however, JaaBar is every bit as compact inside as it is outside – it is, in a way, the epitome of what Hong Kong property is all about, in that it is entirely unprepossessing in terms of its exterior. Inside, however, is a different story. Stepping over the threshold is to enter a treasure chest of rich colours and tones, tactile surfaces, bespoke furnishings, and carefully displayed artwork.

Located in a former Chinese antiques storage basement in the historic building of 1 Pak Tsz Lane, JaaBar is a well-kept secret – which is apt, as Dr Sun Yat-Sen is said to have secretly lived in the area. Locally-based designer Peter Hunter has fashioned JaaBar as a jewel-toned living room, with French Louis XVI-style banquettes in gold leaf and taupe suede, with matching chairs and bar stools. Mirrored walls add glamour and create an illusion of space, lit by a spectacular crystal chandelier.

“The chandelier is there for glamour and to play with scale,” Hunter says. “The look we were aiming for is ‘eclectic’… despite the colours and textures and pieces, this is actually a very neutral ‘box’ in which to display the artwork.”

JaaBar’s art collection rotates on a monthly basis, offering a venue for the city’s many artists and photographers – and all pieces on display are for sale. The same arrangement – as, indeed, the general design concept – also applies over at sister location JaaKitchen, just a short stroll away down Man Hing Lane, on the edge of a new 9,000 sq-ft garden at Pak Tsz Lane – an Urban Renewal Authority project commemorating the role the area played in the 1911 Chinese Revolution.

 Read the full story in the April 2012 issue of Perspective magazine!