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Sai Kung green living: How nature art, fair trade handbags, sustainability, organic material for furniture and jewellery factor into contemporary interior design

Green design and organic sustainability in Sai Kung, Hong Kong

The green design and sustainability ethos that underpins Jude Bailey’s life and work is evident in the themes of her family home in Sai Kung.

Jude Bailey talks design with organic material and sustainable nature, Sai Kung Hong Kong
Jude Bailey talks design with organic material and sustainable nature

When a landslide obliterated the back of Jude Bailey’s house in Lamma fifteen years ago, she had to evacuate fast. “It was 2am and although I was half-asleep, I knew I had to grab the most critical things. I picked three: my passport, my underwear, and my make-up!”

This enterprising lady is nothing if not practical – there are all sorts of clever space-saving and functional ideas in her current Sai Kung house – but it’s the combination of that practical streak with artistic sensibilities, that has resulted in her uniquely creative talents.

Jude trained and worked as an interior architect in the UK, and took a job as Design Director for Asia at BDG McColl when she moved to Hong Kong eighteen years ago. Fast-forward through a marriage, two children, a short stint in Australia, four different homes and a divorce, and Jude has a good number of creative endeavours under her belt: Innovation, her own successful design consultancy based out of Queen’s Road East; BANG, a company selling bio-degradable, fair trade bags made by Bangladeshi village women; and now Edge of Desire, her nascent jewellery company.

 

Have a look inside and out of Jude Bailey’s green sanctuary in Sai Kung

Gems and jewels

“I decided to take a year off after my divorce and resolved to do something that would make me happy for the rest of my life,” she explains. “Actually, it was liberating! I knew it had to be something creative, so I thought about pursuing furniture or fashion design, or photography, but I’ve longed to design jewellery ever since I was at university. I find the whole process so meditative. I’ve learnt how to use new design software and how to cast, and now I’m beginning to work increasingly with precious metals. I’ve sourced these amazing quartz stones from Brazil that I’m basing my current designs around. It’s going to take a while to build the collection, but I know it’s the right thing to do.”

So far, Jude has been selling to friends of friends and via word of mouth; customers drop by her Sai Kung house, where the jewellery is displayed in a typically innovative way. Jude’s creations hang off a large number of chunky, circle-shaped knobs fixed to the wall at the top of her stairwell; she designed them herself, and got a contractor to make them up. The way they’ve been randomly hung resembles a piece of artwork in a gallery, and the contemporary necklaces glint alluringly as the light from the roof terrace catches them.

Creating space

This marrying of practical with creative is in evidence all around the house. Although Jude bought the property as a base build, she has made alterations and added clever nooks everywhere to increase storage and hide everyday clutter. On the first floor, she has transformed the usual village-house family room into eleven-year-old Max’s bedroom, but by moving the door to the far left and blocking up the original entrance, she has created a spacious hall cupboard panelled with mellow grey oak.

Downstairs a large mirrored cupboard works as practical storage for DVDs and books, but visually opens up the living area, to make it look twice as big. Throw open the bi-fold glass doors that separate the ground floor from the garden, and the optical illusion is complete: a fantastic, roomy space to throw a party, kick a football, or play with Mr Chips the labradoodle – and a seamless blurring of inside and outside. Fashionable garden furniture from Dedon and a surprisingly realistic astro-turf lawn completes the relaxed, easy lounging look.

Natural theme

Jude’s interiors scheme is all about inviting nature inside: not only via the blurring of the inside/outside areas, but also by the use of charming arboreal decals, or vinyl stickers, that appear all over the house. There are flowering branches on the oak hall cupboard; a wall of magical white trunks in the boudoir-style master bedroom, and a large tree with waving branches almost entirely covers the kitchen door.

This woodland theme is echoed in the arboreal-inspired print on a couple of huge grey cushions that sit on the oversized sofa, and along with several others covered in silvery fake fur or snowy-grey plush, the effect is curiously Narnia-like. Jude got the sofa custom-made at Simply Casa in Ap Lei Chau, but she sourced most of the room’s furniture from HomeSquare in Shatin, which has a huge variety of interiors shops ranging from Homeless to Kartell. The extendable dining table came from there, and the accompanying Eames DSW dining chairs were from Aluminium.

The living room décor is primarily contemporary, but there are a good few traditional pieces like Buddha heads and antique ceramics dotted around, as befits someone who’s spent most of her adult life in Asia. “There was some antique, older stuff I just couldn’t bear to get rid of when I moved, as they are from periods in my life I want to remember – I did a lot of work in Bangkok at one point, and loved it!” Jude says.

As you would imagine, Jude’s address book is overflowing with a host of other home-related addresses in Hong Kong and beyond. She’s a big fan of the contemporary furniture warehouses in Shenzhen; the six modern lights that hang above her dining table, and her bed, were both sourced from there. “You can get a taxi from Lo Wu, but if you’re planning to buy lots of stuff, it makes more sense to hire a driver. A good one will help you with translation and even with negotiating prices. My driver is from Shatin and I found him by word of mouth; ask around!”

Most of the fabrics she has used around the house are from Sham Shui Po – the rest came from Canaan Curtain in Sai Kung town – and the paint colours she specified and had mixed herself at a local shop.

Children’s bedrooms

She has a number of local contractors she commissioned to make built-in furniture, especially in the study and the children’s bedrooms. So there are two roomy desks in the study – essential when operating a home business – especially as Jude has a colleague, a fellow interior architect, who comes by twice a week to bounce around creative ideas.

In each of the children’s rooms there is a bed that doubles as wardrobe, storage and sleepover bunk when required. Max’s room pays homage to Liverpool FC, with a bold red-and-white stripy duvet, and bright red boxing gloves hung casually over a punch bag to complete the colour co-ordinated look. But it’s nine-year-old Tia’s bedroom you’d choose to sleep in; with more of those dreamy, leafy decals covering the windows, a grass-green rug, lime green walls and botanical print curtains, you could easily believe yourself outside on a spring day. “We talked about themes for her room and she came up with nature,” says Jude. “I got the decal for her room online from ETSY, but I ordered more for the rest of the house and the theme ended up defining the décor.” Complete with raffia storage boxes and a sweet little woodland rabbit night light, Tia’s room is a happy, relaxed place, and in keeping with the vibe of the rest of the house.

Going green

Nature and all things natural are very much part of this family’s life; Jude was brought up by a mother who believed you do things for the collective good of people, and not for yourself. So aside from the work she’s done with BANG and her fair-trade bags, Jude consciously seeks out fair-trade and organic goods wherever possible. “There’s an organisation called the Fair Trade Hong Kong which was set up around six years ago. It’s quite small, but it has an active education programme; they go into schools and give talks,” she says.

Jude has been vegetarian since the age of five, and loves to eat at Life organic restaurants in Central and Mana for vegetarian food in Soho, but recently has been spreading her wings: “I just put this fantastic app on my phone called Happy Cow. Wherever I am, it tells me if there’s a vegetarian restaurant nearby. I ate at a great little vegetarian place in Chai Wan the other day.”

Recycling is also a priority for the Bailey family. “There’s still such a long way to go in Hong Kong,” laments Jude. “We recycle our household waste, but the public recycling bins are ridiculously tiny. I believe the only way to do it properly is to follow the lead from Japan and the UK, and make it mandatory for people to recycle all household waste”.

Despite the city’s slow uptake on the green front, Jude is passionate about life in her adopted home. “When I first arrived in Hong Kong I thought the pace here was too much, too fast, too busy. Now when I go back to England, I find everything too slow! Yes, I miss UK pubs, the real fires, ploughman’s lunches and proper baked potatoes, but with the fantastic variety of places to source home furnishings here, how could I go back? Everything you need is here, and with the fantastic outdoor lifestyle in Hong Kong, why would you live anywhere else?”

Why, indeed?
Jude’s Recommendations

Home

HomeSquare, 138 Shatin Rural Committee Road, Shatin, 2828 5187

JMStyle, Shop 312, Level 3, The Arcade, 100 Cyberport Road, Pokfulam, 2377 9592

Dedon, 248 Queen’s Road East, Wanchai, 2529 7233

Canaan Curtain, Sai Kung Building, 42-56 Fuk Man Road, Sai Kung, 2792 9892

ETSY

Restaurants

Mana, 92 Wellington Street, Central, 2851 1611

Life, 10 Shelley Street, Soho, 2810 9777

Other

Edge of Desire, 6298 1800

Fair Trade Hong Kong

 

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