Tucked away behind the crest of a small steep hill off Hong Kong’s Conduit Road is a three-storey art deco building circa 1930 that, over the past two years, has been the home of art collector and editor Rex Aguado and his partner, financial executive search specialist Harry O’Neill. “We’ve always looked for interesting properties to live in, and loved that this building still had the classic geometry, high ceilings and distinctive details of the art deco period,” says Rex, who snapped up the architectural gem.
With more than 200 works by contemporary Filipino artists in his collection, Rex also creates a highly detailed plan of where to display the various artworks, grouped according to subject or theme instead of size and colour. For example, the double-height living room with a simple art deco ornamental cornice against soaring ceilings and classic colonial glass doors onto the balcony offers a quiet backdrop for a puzzle-like arrangement of portraits alongside flamboyant sculptures such as Ronald Ventura’s Mask, a striking white statue wearing a mask of a dog’s face. The study, meanwhile, features a hanging of more provocative works such as Sweet Mary Jane by Kiko Escora. “I like artists with stories, but hangings should never be too strong,” Rex says. “We live with this – it is not a gallery.”
The entrance to the three-storey building retains art deco details including an original staircase, window guards and doors with ornamental glass panels cut in Aztec-inspired geometrical patterns.
The kabuki fan-pattern rug was designed by Florence Broadhurst and bought from Cadry’s in Sydney in 2010. A simple yet striking archway demarcates the dining from the living area; the eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary pieces reflect the couple’s signature sense of joie de vivre.
A highlight in the breakfast room is the floor-to-ceiling oak and rusted black steel bookcase with a rolling ladder, which was custom-designed by Richy Ng of Box Design.
The Chinese wedding cabinet was bought in Macau 20 years ago.
In the bedroom, a more subdued earthy palette dominates, matching the traditional furnishings and textured textiles.
The double-height ceiling accommodates a two-tier hanging of art including one of Rex’s favourites, Toys’R’Us, a painting by Leslie de Chavez, which takes centre stage above the sofa.
Filipino artist Mark Justiniani’s Sugat painting frames the view from the dining area towards the breakfast room.
On the terrace, a set of understated rattan furniture complements the original tiled floor and timber shutters.
Photography: James John Jetel
Styling and Production: Kissa Castañeda