Billed as “a unique blend of cutting-edge design fused with a celebration of arts and culture,” the new K11 Musea on Hong Kong’s waterfront is an immersive experience primarily targeting millennials.
Much more than just a place to shop, it celebrates culture, art and design over 10 exquisitely designed floors. Developer Adrian Cheng, who was behind the new centre, says he was inspired to create “a muse by the sea”.
The cornerstone of a US$2.6 billion ($3.8 billion) redevelopment of a vacated dockside area where cargo was once offloaded from ships in the pre-containerisation era, K11 Musea marks a significant amplification of the original K11 Art Mall concept launched nearby in 2009, which has sparked a network of nine centres across greater China.
“Our vision is to reinvigorate the district, together with 100 creative powers hailing from different disciplines and cultures, to make K11 Musea the ‘Silicon Valley of Culture’ and inject art, architecture, design, sustainability and all forms of culture into the new consumer’s daily life,” says Cheng.
The 112,000sqm centre features more than 4600sqm of living green walls, an urban rooftop farm and a world-class art collection of more than 40 pieces. Retail tenants have been encouraged to create unique spaces and emphasise their design credentials as well as their stock. Many have launched their stores with limited edition collections exclusively available at K11 Musea.
Hong Kong debutantes
The tenancy lineup includes brands new to Hong Kong – and even Asia. Fittingly, perhaps, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Design Store has opened its largest outlet in the region. Premium British food brand Fortnum and Mason and Moda Operandi have also opened their first stores in Asia.
The L’École School of Jewellery Arts, supported by Van Cleef and Arpels, has unveiled its first location outside Paris, and Yohji Yamamoto its first concept boutique in Hong Kong.
Other standout stores include flagships and new concepts by Alexander McQueen, Gentle Monster, Golden Goose, Off-White, Sergio Rossi and Tumi. Legoland has launched its first educational concept Discovery Centre in Hong Kong.
Each of K11 Musea’s floors has a different art focus, spanning street-inspired works through to sculptures and impressionist works. Launched with a Van Gogh painting on loan, the complex will serve as a platform for world-renowned and emerging artistic talents with a debut art collection featuring works from over 40 leading international and Hong Kong contemporary artists. The curation of the collection is inspired by the city’s waterfront culture, meticulously collected and curated in context to its geographical location, under the direction of Cheng.
At the building’s core is a 35-metre-high atrium dubbed Opera Theatre, which features hundreds of lights, taking the form of a galaxy or a mysterious body of stars. An organic and root-like sculpture, Escalating Climbers, weaves skywards over two floors towards the heart of the space – a giant suspended gold ball.
The history of the site and its waterfront location heavily influenced K11 Musea’s interior design. At Muse Edition, where the MoMA Design Store and cult fashion label Off-White are situated, the entire original waffle ceiling structure from 1970s has been preserved and further modernised by Speirs + Major through inventive lighting design. The design of this unique section – with mouth-blown glass lightings that resemble lighthouses and its flooring of a cement-and-shell mix – is a tribute to the district’s nautical connection.
Italian basement style
In the B2 basement level, Stefano Tordiglione Design conjured up a completely new retail experience.
“We constituted an artistic, ergonomic and theatrical spatial experience rather than a conventional shopping environment – somewhere global millennials can come together to discover their muse,” said creative director Stefano Tordiglione.
Taking reference from the Northern Galleria in Italy, ST Design filled every corner of the 8000sqm B2 level with modern luxury and elegance. Sliding doors in black grid for all the shops give the whole area what Tordiglione describes as “a homogeneous and timeless atmosphere”.
“It also provides a standard platform for the shops to present their brands’ personality in an effective way while maintaining the image of the shopping mall.”
Walking through the B2 shops, customers will enter the Food Playground where different tones of wood outline different seating zones within the contemporary space.
Another notable design is the vintage-looking public washrooms inside the B2 level. Rather than the usual monotone materials, the ladies’ room is fitted with a series of glass panels in different shades of purple, pink and red as are the doors of the cubicles. For the men’s room, brass wash basins with iron bases harmonise with the modern retro surroundings.
“Retail is not about shopping any more; it’s about creating a one-of-a-kind experience for consumers, especially for those who crave for a ‘phygital’, both physical and digital shopping experience,” said Tordiglione.
A Kube outside
Outside the complex, Kube by Dutch architects OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) is a cube-shaped kiosk where visitors can sit in cubical stone chairs looking at Hong Kong’s skyline on aluminium panels whose anodised-finish tinge the view in a distinctive golden filter.
Bohemian Garden, an oasis spread across the two-level rooftop, features an alfresco dining space, water feature and a setting for events such as gala dinners or outdoor cinema screenings.
A 185sqm sunken plaza amphitheatre space is lined with interactive lighting and water features, providing audiences with an intimate street-level setting for performing arts, cinema and live music activities by Kulture 11.
For the kids, Peacock Playground is a lively and colourful attraction perched in the Bohemian Garden comprising custom-designed play equipment, including a reclining peahen, a group of peacocks and a nine-metre-tall structure called Papa Peacock, whose flowing tail doubles as a ladder to a six-metre tubular slide. And Donut Playhouse, an oval-shaped structure, is home to Donut, a 10-metre-tall giant, which is also Hong Kong’s largest indoor slide built inside a shopping complex.