Designer Charles Allem on his VIP Hong Kong clients

At the age of 14, you worked with famous interior designer David Hicks. How did that happen? “I grew up in South Africa and he did one of our homes there. My mother said to him, ‘We’re happy to have you work on our house, but you need to work with my son.’ She was aware that design was my passion, and she honed it.”

How did you approach the design of Hong Kong’s Mira Hotel in 2009? “[Tsim Sha Tsui] has changed so much. It was a very exciting project. The owners had a vision of a hip, funky hotel that was not going to be another Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton. That was fabulous because you can be a bit more loose with the design and colours, a bit more crazy. It has a fabulous, edgy vibe.”

You are working on one of Miami’s priciest homes, valued at US$35 million. What does that buy? “It’s called the Beach House and it’s in the Regalia condominium tower. There is a private spa bathroom with steam shower that can accommodate six guests. Everything is parchment-coloured and coral stone with black accents. There are cantilevered stone steps coming out of the walls. There are two master suites that face the ocean, a terrace with a lap pool, a grand salon and wine storage in hammered black bronze. It’s uber-luxury.”

Innovation rules in hotel and restaurant design

You seem comfortable with extravagant projects. “I’m doing three important homes in Hong Kong, belong­ing to very prominent people, that I cannot talk about. I love working with large spaces, but I like seeing them become inti­mate. Scale is everything. You should not feel like you’re sitting in a soccer stadium.”

Is high-end always opulent? “I’m very much a minimalist, but I don’t have one specific look. In Hong Kong, I’ve made hand-embroi­dered couches, which is the opposite of the looks I created for the Beach House. I like strong interiors. I don’t like lots of finishes; I like things to come together cohesively. There shouldn’t be a pink room, a blue room and a yellow room. They should flow from one to the next.”

Candace Campos, of ID Design, on her high-end interiors

How do you inject warmth into a minimalist space? “A lot of inte­riors, especially modern ones, can be very cold. That’s the delicate balance of pulling the thread so a home is still inviting and warm. We soften the hard edges and connect people to the space.”

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