Ten years in the making. Involving 100 international design and architecture stars. Spanning over 1.2 million sq ft. Presenting 40 artworks, 70 destination restaurants and 250 retailers.
K11 Musea – the jewel in New World Development executive vice-chairman Adrian Cheng’s K11 empire – was finally completed last year. The extraordinary figures paint a picture of superlatives, but the place is no less overwhelming when viewed in person.
Presenting itself as a cultural retail destination, K11 Musea offers a smorgasbord of fashion, design, dining and modern art bound together by a strong thread of education. Spaces are curated to showcase history, heritage and craftsmanship through workshops, displays or live demonstrations.
(Related: Six unmissable design exhibitions in 2020)
The aesthetic of the building can be described as luxe steampunk-meets-manor house eccentricity, and it is clear that both money and a loving attention to detail have been lavished on its interiors. Conjuring up a bygone age of locomotive travel, a giant chandelier of metal pipes and glass globes emits steam and sound. Lift lobbies are reimagined as libraries, with lift buttons “hidden” within ceramic books on shelves. Live moss swirls across walls, lush and soft and shaped into pleasing patterns.
Each floor has a different theme, and even the washrooms are fantastic. Urban Art Playground on the third floor showcases streetwear brands against walls, floors and ceilings covered with graffiti art and murals. Bohemian Garden, on the seventh, features a rooftop lawn, al fresco dining spaces and strips of grass incorporated into the interior flooring. Muse Edition references the history of the site as a wharf with rope-wrapped pillars, seashells blended into concrete flooring and mouth-blown glass lamps that reflect light in soft, rippling waves.
K11 Musea is part of Victoria Dockside, a larger project that includes the Rosewood Hong Kong, K11 Artus serviced apartments and the K11 Atelier office space. Costing US$2.6 billion (S$3.5 billion), it is part of Cheng’s push to reinvent the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. He says: “Our vision is to make waves at this world-class destination by providing a blank canvas for artists, designers and businesses to maximise their creativity and build one of the most exciting new neighbourhoods of tomorrow.”
18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Cream of the Crop
Don’t know where to start? Here are the highlights for design and art aficionados.
The grand atrium evokes the dizzying sensation of a galaxy whirling with stars. The Gold Ball, visually reminiscent of a planet with its latticework of V-cut glass panels, houses a creative space for exhibitions and pop-ups. The Escalating Climbers by Hong Kong design firm LAAB are wrought out of steel and add a sculptural, organic element to the space. Lighting it all are 1,800 glass bulbs designed by UK lighting firm Speirs & Major to pulse and glow in different patterns throughout the day, mimicking the spontaneous sparkle of real stars.
Modern art masterpieces
Sprinkled throughout the mall are modern artworks that are more delightful because of their unexpectedness. Untitled by Katharina Grosse (above), hewn out of rainbow-coloured glass fibre, seems doubly striking next to the clean lines of Rem Koolhas’ cuboid coffee kiosk. The thought-provoking Kastenmann Black by Erwin Wurm invites you to ponder societal conventions while Parrots of Five Colours by artist Zhang Enli will take you back to your childhood, with surrounds painted in bright colours and copper birds on a rotating carousel.
(Related: Experience art differently in 2020)
The Experience Chamber on Level 1 is set aside for exhibitions, workshops and live demonstrations of rare and specialised arts – like cheongsam-making or guangcai porcelain painting. Level 4 houses the K11 Art House with 12 theatres for interactive performances and cinema screenings. On Level 5 is L’Ecole (above), a jewellery school supported by Van Cleef & Arpels. Only the second outpost after Paris, the institution hosts talks, curates exhibitions and offers courses on gemology, and classes in jewellery design.