Secrets of Feng Shui

The five distinguishing elements of Feng Shui practice are wood, fire, metal, earth and water – the aim to eliminate negative energy in the home by pursuing balance in a traditional manner through their corresponding colours, and shapes. Consequently, Qi (or Chi), the vital flowing good energy, is achieved and begins to flourish when we’re in a space that contains just the right amount of good energy. But, there is a lot more to it than just moving things around the home, lighting a stick of incense, and the usual quick vacuuming under the sofa. True Feng Shui is a devotion and a philosophy, and for those who are curious, and with a yearning for something more meaningful when it comes to decorative and life matters, a course led by practitioner Sam McDaid entitled ‘Feng Shui 101 – a Chinese Take-away’ at the Insight School of Interior Design in Chai Wan is an apt introduction for the budding interior designer, or anyone looking to Feng Shui their home. The class is enlightening and filled with exercises and lots of meditative thoughts on how to incorporate healthy energy into the home. Here, Sam expands on this fascinating practice and shares a few ‘take-aways’.

Why did you start teaching Feng Shui?

I had just signed a two-year contract to work here as a teacher of Art and Design in a large International School with no expectations to become a permanent resident. Initially, it was frustrating trying to access good quality reading materials as they were mostly written in traditional or simplified Chinese. With a lot of perseverance and a little luck I found and studied with three renowned Masters whom have taught me a wealth of knowledge in this fascinating ancient art, philosophy and science.  As an experienced educator, performance coach and designer it seemed a natural progression for me to write courses which enable adults to merge this ancient Chinese practice with our needs for modern living. 

What is it about Feng Shui that can help the home decorator with good design?

Form School Feng Shui is deeply rooted in good design principles and common sense. Of course there are elements of superstition attached to Classical Feng Shui, but in theory it’s underpinned by colour psychology, spatial planning, balanced material usage and ambient design. I myself have a Diploma in Interior Design and am currently developing a portfolio in Residential and Commercial projects on an international level. I encourage my students to integrate ideas from both their traditional design understandings and Feng Shui knowledge with a western or other culturally appropriate contemporary lens. Feng Shui is really about harnessing good Qi气 from the macro and micro environment to elevate the energy of a given space. As practitioners we generally aim to create harmony in residential projects and focus more so on the activation of wealth and prosperity in commercial environments.


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Have you noticed that incorporating Feng Shui into the home can be transformative for people’s wellbeing too?

Yes of course. As an example, I worked alongside a well-known design duo here in Hong Kong whose client specifically wanted for them to use Feng Shui within the renovation of her home in Happy Valley. The patriarch of the family had been suffering from health problems for some time and was often in and out of hospital. Initially the interior architects were sceptical of my involvement but realised quickly that Feng Shui helped to enhance their ideas rather than disturb them. We specifically focused on analysing the bedroom and kitchen to elevate the good or Sheng Qi 气. Sheng Qi is a bright, refreshing, uplifting Feng Shui energy that is beneficial to overall health and wellbeing. Sheng translated from Chinese means Upward Moving Energy. As a result the client and her family have since enjoyed improved health and wellness. 

Have you ever received feedback from a client where their lives have been changed in a positive way from living in a home that revolves around the practicing of Feng Shui?

Thankfully, all of my clients to date have provided very positive feedback and recommended my services and teachings to others.  The most satisfying aspect of my role as an educator focused on the integration of good design, positive psychology and Feng Shui风水 is knowing that my clients have made a connection with something bigger than themselves. There are many ‘ah ha’ moments for my students throughout our Insight School certificates and short  courses. I know this sounds a little ‘out there’ but mapping energy is a highly effective tool for living.  One of the most important things that we need to do is truly believe that we can obtain the things we want in life. Whether that’s longing for an ideal partner, a great job or a fit physique, know that we can meet our goals when translated through artefacts, objects, relics, furnishing or artworks in the home or office. Entertaining doubts or negative ideas merely inhibits our ability to get the things we deserve. 

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What is your own living space like – in terms of Feng Shui?

Like most other apartments in Hong Kong, it could always be better. I’m unfortunately lacking in a good water view and therefore have utilized some traditional Feng Shui cures for that in order to keep my finances healthy. I’ve been using plants that purify the air naturally rather than use the air conditioning so much. As a result my energy bills have dramatically reduced and I feel much happier being surrounded by greenery. It’s recommended that we have plants in all rooms, even bedrooms as they emit a positive energy. Having houseplants can be a nice way to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside, adding a splash of colour and helping to act as natural air purifier, by taking in carbon dioxide and giving off fresh oxygen as part of their natural life cycle. I have placed a little Jasmine plant with lovely little white flowers and a sharply sweet scent near my bed which has made a positive impact on my sleep quality.

What is one thing you like Insight School students to take home with them after completing your course?

My course is entitled ‘Feng Shui 101 – A Chinese take-away’ as I use food as an analogy for my teachings. I cover the guiding principles behind Classical or Compass Feng Shui (Peking Duck), the BTB school (Sweet and Sour Pork) and New Age Feng Shui (Egg Fried rice). During the beginners’ course my students begin with group and paired theoretical discussion and understanding of the Five Elements, Yin Yang Theory and Four Feature Model. This then leads into a very hands-on exercise of mapping the BaGua or 8 Aspirations map on their chosen floor plan followed by the generation of concept boards and material selection for a chosen sector of their home or residential project. It’s all encompassing of many activities, skills and levels of understanding. If I were to choose one thing that I would like for my students to take away it would be that Feng Shui really is a valuable tool for designing a positive experience of living.


Image credit: Insight School HK


Tassel and ‘It’s a wrap’ workshop in Hong Kong

Morrison Polkinghorne, of Passementeries, makers of the finest tassles, fringes, braids and cords, will be in Hong Kong on November 18, 2015, for one workshop only demonstrating and teaching the intricacies of his splendid hand-crafted ornamental decorative trimmings and tassels. The textile designer and authority of Asian antiques is a true artist who has single-handedly reinvigorated and driven the passementerie story into the 21st century. His work has involved collaborations with international designers for private and public spaces, restaurants, and his pieces have graced the rooms of iconic buildings including the National Gallery of Victoria as well as Sydney’s Kirribilli House. Now based in Battambang, Cambodia, where Polkinghorne owns and runs the boutique hotel bric-a-brac with his partner chef and author Robert Carmack, the self-described ‘tassel maker’ has spent the past few years training and overseeing a talented team of local artisans who continue to help create the passementerie which is all hand-crafted from natural fibres or jute.

In this three-hour workshop at Mirth, Wong Chuk Hang, you will learn tassel making skills from the best in the biz, Morrison Polkinghorne of Passementeries, while using KPC’s beautiful wool and cotton yarns. Polkinghorne will also pass on his knowledge of Japanese gift wrapping so all your future Christmas and birthday presents are guaranteed to look more beautiful and inspired. 

There will be a glass of bubbles and refreshments provided for all guests taking part.

For more information or to book please visit stylebrief.bigcartel or call 9186 2094 for more information. 

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Tassel making and It’s a Wrap Workshop:

Where: Mirth

The Mezzanine Floor

Yip Kan Street

Wong Chuk Hang

Hong Kong

Tel: +852 2553 9811

When: 18 November 2015

Time: 11 am – 2 pm 

Cost: HK$680

Snacks and light refreshments will be provided. 


Without a doubt, everything at Kate Jones’ atelier get.give on 14 Po Tuck Street in Sai Ying Pun is to swoon over. Her terrifically clean-lined space in grey and cream hues has a whole host of swishy decorative tricks that could make a stylist happily rearranging and playing for hours. Jones also runs creative consultancy At Liberty which offers boutique creative strategy services with a focus on events, marketing and styling. Some of her illustrious clients include Landmark Magazine, Ellermann Flower Boutique, Krug, FilmAid, Hermès, Fendi Casa, Colour Living, Clinique and Miele.

However if you’re hankering after a considered design-focused buy, you’re in luck. Read on to learn more about the smart thinking behind get.give.


















How would you describe your atelier get. give?

I started get.give together with my business partner (and cousin) Seanne Ducat. We wanted to find a way to provide a broader and more thoughtful offering of gifting that can be enjoyed every day. We’ve invested a lot of time to carefully curate a selection of products made by passionate producers that we believe recipients will cherish, most of which we’ve picked up during our travels.

We currently have two arms to the business: one is the retail store which will also be launched online in early October this year (very exciting). The second is our Gifting Agency where we work with corporate clients to pair them with like-minded businesses and create gifting strategies and collections that truly align with their brand ethos.

Later in the year we’ll be adding a third arm to the business which is our own collection of eco-friendly gift wrapping that we’ve created together with local artists in Asia.

The get.give shop and studio is where customers can come and really explore our family of brands. Everything that we’ve selected has a personal connection with both myself and my business partner Seanne. The store is where we can first hand relay these stories to the clients and really educate them about the products. We will do this with our online store, but we’re both a little old school and love to meet with people face to face.

Why get.give?

We have been frustrated for a while now by the lack of gifting options in Hong Kong and generally worldwide. We both feel that what is on offer is very trendy, gimmicky, lacking heart and ultimately dust collectors that end up in a landfill. I haven’t been able to find one great store that offers a variety of useful products from quality makers that suits both men and women across a variety of ages. get.give is our answer to this. We’re still early days so the collection will grow with us and our customers as we develop more of a relationship.

From the corporate gifting side, we found that some brands are doing themselves more harm than good with the items they are choosing to gift. We’d see gifts with large logos in bins post-events or found that everyone would gift the same thing – one year it’s a speaker, the next it’s a phone charger. So recipients end up with three or more of an item stacking up.

All this leads to what Seanne and I term ‘gifting guilt’ – that feeling you have when you receive something and instantly feel bad about the amount of packaging or the fact that it’s just another thing to store away or awkwardly try to give away. Our aim is for get.give to make ‘gifting guilt’ to be a thing of the past.
















A spotlight on some of the brands you are bringing to Hong Kong

We have exclusive artist edition rugs by New York based Artist August Krogan-Roley together with Kahoko. All hand woven in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

We also stock the most amazing hand-picked herbs from Greece by the brand Daphnis & Chloe. They also work with local farmers to help them get the most from their crops with organic farming techniques.

Los Poblanos is a family-run lavender farm and homestead in New Mexico introduced to me by great friends whilst on holiday this year. They make the most exquisite products from their lavender in the summer and chillies in the autumn … I ended up helping to harvest the lavender, learn about their processes and meet with the family. Now we have them in Hong Kong which is very exciting.

We are bringing in enamelware by Japanese brand Kaico and designed by Japanese design icon Makoto Koizumi and hand-made wooden household brushes and cleaning tools from Redecker, a 75-year-old family run business from Germany.





The good spices are in

The wonderful aromas of fragrant spices is one of the first things you notice about Hong Kong, and styling up recipes filled with all these truly amazing ingredients is a great job.  If you are looking for high-quality spices, and don’t want to buy at a supermarket, Sunit Dattani, the great-great grandson of Dayalji Purshottam Dattani who started Regency Spices in 1951, has some of the best in Hong Kong.  Here, Sunit explains how it all began at Regency Spices. 

When did your family start Regency Spices and why? Our family business started in 1951 by Mr. Dayalji Purshottam Dattani, my great grandfather, when he migrated back to India from East Africa. Our new consumer range was developed as we noticed there was a lack in high quality spices in the market.  As spice prices have risen year by year, manufacturers/packers/grinders have had to cut costs to keep their prices affordable.  With our unique knowledge in the trade from an export and manufacturing point of view, we want to bring back the traditionally available high quality spices back to consumers.

Why are your spices so fresh and unique? All our spices are naturally farmed and traditionally processed.  While the same spice may grow in several different countries, we take great care to source them from their “best” origin, which we determine to be the best tasting for the season.  Most of the time this is also the traditional origin of the spice from thousands of years ago, as opposed to cheaper producing nations that have only been cultivating the spice for 20-50 years.  We also sell them in their whole form, which makes them infinitely fresher and tastier compared to pre-powdered. Whole spices are much harder to hide quality defects in, because flaws are easily visible.  We hand select wherever possible and only the best are sold by us.

Which spices need to be refrigerated? Under normal circumstances, we recommend not refrigerating any whole spices, as they get badly affected by changes in moisture when taking them in and out of the fridge.  If you have access to a vacuum sealer, that’s a different story!  In which case they should all be kept refrigerated.  What we do recommend, is storing spices in a dark, airtight container, in a cool place.  Spices exposed to light and heat lose flavour and aroma much faster than those kept in these conditions. Some spices attract infestation – for example, nutmeg, mace, coriander, chilli, and some are especially precious – for example, saffron, cardamom, vanilla – all these, if refrigerated, are best kept in air-tight container taking care to prevent moisture from being absorbed and spoiling them.

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Louella Odié

Louella Odié by mother and daughter design team Karen and Lauren Mead, is fast becoming known for its artworks and other lovely products to swoon over. Hong Kong-born Karen is a trained print-maker and her collection of lithographs are sublime. Everything is done by hand and there is always an ‘East-meets-West’ twist in her work. Her floral lithograph that hangs in her workshop is a constant on my wish-list. Karen studied her craft in Britain; daughter Lauren started in fashion branding, and was working for UK label Jack Wills before she went into business with her mother. Now based on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island, the pair has certainly come full circle, and neither could imagine working with anyone else. A ride over to their atelier and workshop is guaranteed to produce delight at their interesting body of work.  

Why Louella Odié? 

Karen: As an artist I am never going to stop making my personal work, but I have to be realistic about finding an outlet for it. I recognised within my work there was a commercial element and I’ve chosen to develop that into Louella Odié.

Lauren: I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

How did the name Louella Odié come about?

Karen: On the first day I met someone who is now one of my very good friends, she said I didn’t look like a ‘Karen’ and named me ‘Louella’ instead. The name stuck with a large group of my UK friends and I have been Louella ever since. Odié is my mother’s maiden name and as we have a history of creative women in the family we wanted to reflect it in our business name. 

Some of the things you might do in a day?

Karen: I try to make sure I draw every day, even if it is just a quick sketch or a scribble. Drawing calms me down. I often spend an entire day working on a print, but could just as easily be found walking around Sham Shui Po looking for fittings for bags. I also teach classes at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, so once a week I am with my students in the studio there. 

Lauren: Louelle Odié is a small company, so every day is different for me. Some days I spend locked on my computer organising things for a big trade fair we are going to in September. Other days I spend walking around meeting retailers, or – my favorite – meeting bloggers who we can collaborate with!

Describe your style?

Karen: I have no clear idea what my style is, but I am always drawn to extremes, even though I don’t go that far myself. I admire people whose style is decidedly quirky, such as Charlotte Olympia or Lulu Guinness. 

Lauren: I now live and work on Lamma Island which has meant a change in style. Gone are the high heels, jackets and pencil skirts, suddenly I am channeling laid-back resort wear that is perfect for island living. 

Can you name your three best traits?

Lauren: We’ve decided to pick for each other (so clearly, trust is one trait we share). So, for Mum, I think her three best traits are her intuitive nature. Mum often picks up on body language, colour trends and subtle clues that come from her ability to be permanently observant, even when she isn’t consciously aware she is doing it. Secondly her sense of the ridiculous – Mum can always see a disgusting joke in everything. Finally it goes without saying that Mum is creative, but more specifically her creative problem solving abilities are key to our business. She can create something out of nothing and see solutions I would never spot. 

Karen: You soon realise when you meet Lauren how driven she is, to the extent that you wouldn’t stand in front of her for very long because you’d get squashed. She is organised and makes paperwork and all the stuff I hate look easy, but she has a great sense of fun and I love to see her dissolve into giggles. 

Who or what inspires you?

Karen: I get visual inspiration from everything around me, but in Hong Kong I particularly like the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural. 

Lauren: I have a number of business women I look up to and am inspired by. This would include Stacey Bendet, the founder of Alice and Olivia, for her own driven nature and her ability to beat to her own drum in terns of style. I would also include Tamara Mellon and Tory Burch on my would-like-to-meet-list. 


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We love to search for vintage pieces, and I base my looking on the texture, feel and quality of the fabric plus the name Chanel, or Gianfranco Ferre, or Lanvin can also inspire me to add a new beautiful bag, jacket, skirt or dress to my collection. I noticed in the early nineties there was very little in the way of vintage European pieces in Hong Kong, but finally vintage clothing and accessories have caught on here. Now I’ve cast my eye over the pieces available in Reverie. The owner, Hannah Sutton, sources with her sister who is based in London. The boutique is in a fabulous location on Duddell Street, Central – right next to Rennie Fensham’s hair-salon Hollywood Hair. So once you’ve picked up a Chanel classic flap you can then pop over to Rennie’s for a quick blow-dry.

Why Reverie?

I have always had a passion for fashion and all things vintage. In Europe vintage has been very popular in the last few years but not so in Hong Kong. I’ve always dreamt of owning my own vintage shop and realised there was a gap in the market here so my sister (who is based in London) and I made the decision to make our dream a realisation last November by opening Reverie. But it was a few years in the making.

Some of the things you might do in a day?

Each day is different. But my day always starts with getting my children ready for school, followed by exercise. I am in the shop most day’s and you never really know what the day will bring. There can be a photo shoot, an interview, viewing private collections, searching for unusual new stock, getting ready for a fashion show, model fittings and the more boring necessary things like paper work, catching up on Emails, admin etc. But I always manage to fit in seeing friends for lunch or coffee at some point most days.

Describe your style?

My style can vary – and I go through phases. But I’m always on the look out for the latest trend and the latest must have item.

Can you name your three best traits?

You would have to ask my friends and family for an honest opinion. But I would like to think they are loyalty, a sense of humour and great determination.

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Fiona Kotur Marin’s talent was obvious when I first met her in the early 2000s. The project she was working on with Tory Burch was just the beginning of a mythical ascent. Her own brand Kotur, started in 2005, sprang to life when, on one of her sourcing trips, she noticed the extraordinary vintage brocades at a mill owned by a 90-year-old craftsman. These unique brocades were key to her debut collection of minaudieres and clutches. Now a leading player in the fashion world, Kotur has recently launched a shoe line as well. Kotur Marin is adept at creating collections with a high-low mix, and clients have included Tilda Swinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Christy Turlington, and Scarlett Johansson. Family is also key to Kotur Marin’s creations; she is a mother of four boys and her mother, Manhattan-based painter, fashion illustrator and interior decorator Sheila Camera Kotur, lends her talent to Kotur’s seasonal illustrations. Which makes every shoe box her shoes come in a charming piece of collectible art illustrated with the precise and distinctive hand of her mother. 

Why Kotur?

Because I once tried to find a little bag with big personality and just couldn’t find it, so I made it.

Some of the things you might do in a day?

Early morning call with New York, visit metal supplier in Kwon Tung, pick up vintage beads in Cat Street market, school meeting in Braemar Hill, math homework in the kitchen, dinner at Cipriani, emails from bed.

Describe your style?

It’s all about the accessories….

Can you name your three best traits?

Creativity, Persistence, and Loyalty.

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One of the most fun things about working for Hong Kong Tatler and Eve magazine was the many invitations to press events. They were exquisitely written by the most exacting and fluid hand. Now the focus is on the man behind these invitations. His name is Patrick Leung of Grafik Design Ltd, and he is the most amazing calligrapher – his portfolio of work includes jobs for Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Chanel and Bvlgari, to name just a few of the clients he has worked for. Discover your own inner calligrapher with Patrick in a one-on-one class – he will teach individuals or take a group class. If you’ve got an engagement, wedding or party invitations to organise, need we say more?

Why Grafik Design?

I grew up in the 80’s with British music, from new wave, new romantic, futurism…  Japan was my favourite band during my rebellious teenage years. One day, I found out that the Japan logotype was created with calligraphy on an ambient album cover ‘Nightporter’. So I began my first calligraphy lesson in 1988. Then in 1997, Louis Vuitton gave me the first calligraphy project for their invitations. From then on my calligraphic career began to fly. Grafik is German which means graphic in English and a lot of the calligraphers I love are German. 

Some of the things you might do in a day?


What are two things that are important to you? 

I have a high standard in writing and appreciate the finer things in life

Which calligraphers do you admire?

Professor Hermann Zapf, Hermann Kilian and Friedrich Poppl they are all German. 

Who or what inspires you?

Gottfried Pott, a German calligrapher really inspires me. I also love mixing instruments and materials to create East meets West.   

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Catherine Preston Jewellery Design

We love warm-natured Cat Preston of Catherine Preston Jewellery Design. And her striking hand-made pieces inlaid with colourful semiprecious stones are within reach – think elegant, perfect for every day jewels in silver and gold that can go into edgy evening parties and big events. The designer settled in Hong Kong 18 months ago after 10 years in Singapore and a two-year stint in Chicago. Cat is also masterful at giving old pieces new shape (she meticulously re-worked a pair of antique garnet and enamel clip-ons, which Belinda’s grandmother had brought back from India in the 1940s), into wearable pierced ones. 

DONT MISS OUT: Looking for something special for Valentine’s Day? Then be one of the first 10 stylebrief readers to tell Cat you saw her interview here and she will take 15 percent off the price of a piece in the collection at her atelier on The Peak. 


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Grange Interiors

Scottish-born Catherine Taylor opened Grange Interiors in One Island South, Aberdeen, in May 2013; to tap into the incredible charm and talent of designers and creatives who come mainly from Europe and the United Kingdom. Everything at Grange is hand-picked by Catherine and she has the amazing knack for finding true artisans that are not yet in Hong Kong while also sourcing some pretty beautiful antique lights, silverware and linens. The wallpapers and fabrics by Timorous Beasties are incredible and can change any apartments feel. French ceramacist Fabienne Tassi’s hand-thrown white pieces are to die-for: clean, simple and well-priced. If you want help with interiors, or advice on pillows, fabrics or wall-coverings, Catherine is great for this. This area is getting better for eateries so once you’ve visited Catherine’s store pop into Percy’s inside the Lane Crawford store, or if vegetarian is more your thing head to MUM for lunch, their set-lunches are delicious. 

What made you start Grange Interiors?  I had an urge to own my own business, my Mum and Dad had their own business, so it was how I grew up. It also gives me more flexibility with a family. I came across some quirky independent designers from the UK that I used when I refurbished our 200 year old Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh and wanted to bring them to Hong Kong. I really admire their talent and many of their products still have an element made-by-hand.

Some of the things you might do in a day? It is like stirring a cooking pot… there is always a little bit of each area that needs attention. I will spend sometime in the shop meeting customers, then talk with designers/suppliers and place new orders, which often involves coming up with the most efficient shipping method. I am in awe of the designers, they are so talented and creative. I will also keep in contact with local magazines and let them know the new arrivals etc to feature. 

Describe your style?
Classic with a twist, often a touch of something from our travels. I like symmetry and therefore enjoy the Georgian period. I also enjoy the Art Deco period and mixing styles, some vintage pieces with new. 

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