Noticing a demand for high quality event space in an accessible location in Hong Kong, Alfred Chu, founder and chairman of Citiland Development Joint Stock Company, and Shirley Lau, founding shareholder of restaurant group Maximal Concepts, brought together their expertise to launch Espace
— a new multi-purpose events space consisting of a main events hall, library lounge and private room in the heart of Central.
The husband-and-wife team talked to Perspective about the design of the 4,000-sq-ft venue, what Espace stands for and how the project originated.
How did this project begin?
We noticed an increasing number and variety of marketing and corporate events in Hong Kong, resulting in a high demand for high quality and generous space in a convenient and easily accessible location. That was how it began. At the same time, we noticed a trend of people wanting to enjoy a drink or a cigar after dining out or after work, especially at a place that offers a cosy ambience for chatting and within the vicinity of Central. That's how we decided to combine our cigar lounge Privato with our main events hall into one space.
What does the name Espace stand for?
Espace is quite simply 'space' in French. We felt that there is elegance to the word, yet even for those unfamiliar with French, it still easily conveys the concept of 'a space'. At the same time, the word 'espace' does not delineate or pose a constraint on the type of space, so it fits perfectly with this events venue that is multi-functional. It can be a banquet space, art space, work space, chill-out space and much more.
How would you describe the design concept?
From the outset, I had two major requirements for the design. First, we wanted a cosy ambience. Second, we aimed to have an impressive arrival experience — the moment the lift doors open, people can immediately feel the change in atmosphere.
Different areas carry different design themes — the main events hall has a neat, clean and contemporary design; the library lounge has a casual, relaxed atmosphere while Privato is a classy cigar room with lush armchairs and chandeliers. It is not an easy task to harmoniously blend three distinct areas into one single space, with each still retaining its identity. We are grateful to the project's designer, Can Chung, who has done a wonderful job!
What are the functions of the different rooms?
The main events hall measures 2,000 sq-ft, with an additional 500 sq-ft of reception space. It's been designed to accommodate a variety of events, targeted at corporate marketing events, launches, private dinners, talks and press conferences, among others. It is a carte blanche space that can be tailored to individual needs and requirements based on each occasion. The hall is also equipped with adjustable track lighting and a comprehensive AV system, as well as optional partitions that can be used should guests require a smaller function space.
The library lounge offers coffee bar amenities overlooking Exchange Square and is designed to be a calm, intimate space for guests to meet, work and relax. Privato, a highlight space, is a private cigar lounge with a walk-in humidor and high-quality Cuban cigars available for purchase. The style is cosy and ambient.
The library lounge has a routed audio system that can be separated or integrated with the main space, and the dividing door between the library lounge and Privato can be opened up for a seamless larger area, making the 4,000 sq-ft floor space open and free flowing.
What kind of atmosphere did you hope to create with Espace?
We wanted to create a contemporary chic space for the main events hall that could hold its own identity yet not be overly dominant over the events that will be held in the space.
The aesthetic we wanted to achieve and I believe we did achieve, is clean cut, contemporary, bright, airy and inviting — suitable for all types of events. For the main events hall, we used white terrazzo flooring. It has elegance and subtlety that we liked, creating a bright, light space that is at once beautiful yet not overpowering, durable yet not aesthetically displeasing. We also like the tonal contrast between this and the wooden beam dividers, which complement each other in a warm, welcoming way.
For the library lounge and Privato, we wanted a more intimate and cosy environment, achieved through the choice of lighting, colour and material. In Privato, all the couches, armchairs and tables have been tailor-made for us, ensuring we achieved the correct and intimate atmosphere of a cigar lounge for our discerning guests. The leather seating, with splashes of soft purple, racing green and burgundy, coupled with chandeliers, gives the space a classic yet slightly edgier vibe. The dark, lower lit hues embody a discrete yet polished experience, offering understated sophistication. Of course, our walk-in humidor, with individual lockers, has also been custom-made, to ensure our guests have a home for their personal belongings.
We also wanted to ensure that there is a unity in style and visual identity throughout the venue to give it consistency and coherence; hence, the gradations are gentle and subtle.