House hunting in Hong Kong can be a long-drawn-out process but not, it seems, if you are Corina Larpin. The uber-glamorous owner and creative director of luxury jewellery brand StefEre, whose client list reads like a roll-call of the rich and famous, had little more than one month to find a home to buy and furnish.
“We opened (the StefEre) office in Hong Kong eight years ago, but as we were travelling back and forth between here and Geneva, we lived in an apartment in The Peninsula hotel until the summer of 2018,” she recalls via a Zoom call from her villa on Mykonos, Greece, where she is working on a renovation project as well as designing jewellery. “At that point, we decided to move here more permanently but it all depended on whether my son, Alexandre, got into the school of his choice. If he wasn’t accepted, we weren’t going to stay.”
The now 14-year-old came up trumps but the race was on to find the family a home before they left for the summer. Larpin and her Swiss-Italian husband, Christian, a real-estate investor, looked at two properties, settling on a 2,700 sq ft, three-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment in The Lily, the curvaceous, flower-shaped building that late billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum commissioned British architect Norman Foster to design.
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It has jaw-dropping 180-degree views over Repulse Bay on one side, and Tai Tam Country Park on the other. Fortunately, the flat had never been lived in and there was no need to revamp the interiors – apart from staining the floor black to create a strong impression without detracting from the family’s art.
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“We decorated the apartment ourselves because we wanted to put our own style on our home rather than letting someone choose for us. I am not an interior designer but I just follow my artistic instincts,” says Larpin. “My husband is a natural at interior design so it’s quite easy to decorate a home when he’s around.”
The apartment’s style revolves around the Larpins’ modern art collection. Bold, vivid, statement-making pieces adorn almost every wall and draw the eye away from the stunning scenery outside the angled picture windows. Many of the pieces are by artists who are also friends.
“My art frames my home; it is chic, contemporary and comfortable,” says Larpin, who was born and raised in Romania during the communist era. “I put a higher priority on art than furniture. Since it is very colourful, the furniture needed to be clean and plain. As long as the furniture was in harmony with the art, it was fine.”
It also needed to be sufficiently understated so as not to compete with the Larpins’ eclectic collection of skulls, which infuse the flat with an edgy vibe. There are jewel-encrusted skulls in the powder room and on Larpin’s desk. Silver skull-shaped tables flank the master bed; rictus grins smile from windowsills and headboards.
“I love skulls and Christian is almost more crazy about them than I am,” she says. “My personal style always influences both my home and my jewellery brand so there’s always an overlap. If you look around my home, you can see all my favourite things like the skulls and you also find them in my jewellery line, such as a pair of skull earrings that Lady Gaga wore.”
Larpin says her hectic travel schedule, pre-pandemic, means her home needs to be family-oriented, serene, comfortable and offer design inspiration.
“We own many well-decorated vacation houses in Vietnam, Thailand and Greece, where I feel 100 per cent at home, but this apartment is different from all of them and it is my favourite place. It is special.”
Living room entrance At one end of the living area, near the front entrance, is a painting by French artist Yves Clerc and a black sculpture by Hsu Tung-lung. The Chinese artist also created the red and black abstract artwork and the white sculpture on a custom-made plinth in the foreground. All of Hsu’s pieces came from Pata Gallery.
On the left is a bronze sculpture titled 50 Years Barbie Lethal Venture 09 by Indonesian artist Astari Rasjid. This was bought at Christie’s, as was the HermEs three-seater foldable bench by the window in leather and maple wood.
Living room Corina Larpin’s favourite space is the living room, which enjoys breathtaking sea views on one side and greenery on the other. The Mies-style Barcelona ottoman, lounge chair and sofa all came from Decor8. The rug was from Roche Bobois. The coffee table and grey cube seats were from Natuzzi Italia.
The portrait of supermodel Naomi Campbell was by Swiss painter Roger Pfund. A sitting area off the main living room is enlivened by a large floral artwork by Clerc. Larpin created a butterfly ring for StefEre that has yellow sapphires in almost the exact same shade as the butterflies in the painting. The sideboard and sofa in this area also came from Natuzzi Italia.
Corridor The painting on the left is by Pfund and the one on the right by Clerc, both of whom are friends of the Larpin family.
Dining room The 2007 paintings Mao & Andy Warhol and Mao Dancing are by Shi Xinning, whose works are carried by Primo Marella Gallery. The dining table and sideboard came from Indigo Living and the chairs were from Decor8. The paper bag vases on the sideboard are by Rosenthal. The skulls were picked up over the years on travels around the world.
Kitchen The kitchen was designed by Poggenpohl with Gaggenau appliances and installed by the developer.
Portrait Larpin, owner and creative director of jewellery brand StefEre, manages to be in two places at once – in her villa in Mykonos as well as in her living room in Hong Kong.
Master bedroom The colour palette of the master bedroom revolves around the family photograph, which was shot by Dana Maitec. The Qeeboo silver skull side tables were from Lane Crawford. The skulls are part of the Larpins’ collection.
Master bathroom The Larpins’ en-suite bathroom was fitted out by the developer before they bought the apartment.
Study Larpin says she gets design ideas while on holiday so a study area overlooking Repulse Bay beach, which transports her to exotic climes, is a great place for inspiration. The skulls came from various sources over the years and the reading light was purchased from Lane Crawford.
Guest bathroom The artworks are by Pfund and the skulls are part of the Larpins’ collection.
Tried + tested
Art decor Corina Larpin transformed an uninspiring cupboard at the end of a corridor into an arresting focal point by attaching one half of a painting, by Roger Pfund, firmly to the left-hand door. The other side of the artwork looks fixed when the doors are closed but is able to swing gently back when full access to the interior is required.
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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