Commissioned by a discerning car collector to design a private showroom in Hong Kong for his priceless collection of sports cars and memorabilia, Paris and Hong Kong based multidisciplinary design studio A Work of Substance drew inspiration from the impressive set of vintage automobiles, imbuing the space with a sense of retro-modern sophistication and laidback charm while channelling the excitement of driving such iconic pieces of machinery. Taking a page from both their aerodynamic design and mechanical workings, it would be accurate to say that the space has been engineered as much as designed, underpinned as it is by modularity, mobility and detailed craftsmanship. Comprising a lounge, bar, and study, The Library, as the project is fittingly called, the concept of car show room is redefined as a place of relaxation and refinement, enabling the proud owner to enjoy his automotive gems even when he’s not behind the wheel.
Design: A Work of Substance, Videography: Dennis Lo
Located in a multistorey storage facility for supercars, the showroom/lounge is complemented by a ground floor entrance space designed in the same retro-modern aesthetic, but whereas the collector’s private space evokes James Bond’s stylish den, the building’s car entrance-cum-lobby is more M16 secret bunker complete with fluted cast-concrete walls, large concrete pavers, and three-metre-diameter ceiling fans. Metal ceiling panels and stainless-steel car elevators further enhance the sensation of a high-tech lair as well as dazzle visitors with mesmerizing reflections, as does the aluminium-clad security office whose rounded volume is modelled on the classic 1930s Airstream caravan. Mirroring the fluted design of the concrete walls and the rounded forms of the security booth, a timber-clad enclosure houses an elegant lounge featuring crisp wood panelling, hand-stitched leather armchairs, books and motoring mementos in bespoke displays.
In contrast to the cool tones of the concrete and metal swathed entrance space, the showroom/lounge upstairs is imbued with warmth thanks to the predominance of wooden surfaces, from the hardwood floors and timber-clad ceiling, to the modular wall panels that can accommodate shelving, cabinets and even folded seating. Underpinned by smooth lines, sinuous forms and mid-century-inspired furniture, the retro-modern interior design reflects the motor collection on display which includes iconic, not to mention insanely expensive, sports cars like the 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, which is considered one of the greatest Ferraris of all time, and the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gull-winged coupé, a true marvel of both design and engineering voted the "sports car of the century" in 1999.
A treasure trove of bespoke, automotive-inspired details pay homage to the cars’ mechanical ingenuity while further enhancing the stylish sophistication of the interior design. Lounge chairs celebrate the Ferrari Dino, cabinetry handles echo the door handles of a Zagato, along with stools reminiscent of spark plugs. Motor references extend to lighting with spotlights that allude to classic car head and tail lights, and the lantern-like sconces that feature a rotating gyroscope that can be used for dimming. More than anything, it’s such attention to detail that truly captures the collector’s passion for classic sports cars.