Part treasure chest, part art gallery and part old Hollywood set, this extraordinary apartment is a celebration of individuality and glamorous style
This luxurious penthouse apartment is filled with extraordinary style
Folklore decrees that hidden treasure is unearthed in the darkest caverns, the deepest seas or buried pirate chests. In Hong Kong there’s an exception to the rule. In the prestigious Mid-Levels residential district, a romantic 1950s apartment building, sandwiched between works of brutal architecture and massive monoliths, will take you by surprise.
Ride the quaint cage-door elevator to the top floor, and you’ll discover the flamboyant home of Jenny-lyn Hart Boden: interior designer, collector, fashion stylist and all-round tastemaker. Inside this rare jewel, Hart Boden has curated a prized collection of mid-20th century classic furniture, contemporary art and other cherished objects.
Arriving in London from Australia 18 years ago, determined to succeed in Europe’s elitist design world, the stylish Aussie managed within weeks to secure a job with the celebrated designer and art dealer David Gill at his landmark gallery on the Fulham Road. “Working with David was an exceptional experience,” says Hart Boden. “David’s taste is second to none. I’m eternally grateful for all he taught me.”
With her gutsy antipodean get-up-and-go attitude and an ambition to learn all she could about 20th-century furniture, her lifelong passion, Hart Boden took only a few short years to establish herself as a foremost interior stylist with a distinctive look of her own.
A strategic move to Hong Kong two years ago allowed her to be closer to clients based in Asia and Australia. “Hong Kong is the perfect place for me right now,” she says. “I love that I can get home more often to see my family.”
When she first viewed the Mid-Levels apartment, she immediately saw past its rather dowdy interior. “I thought I’d hit the jackpot with its spacious proportions, generous balconies and breathtaking views of the city,” she says. “It was like a sleeping princess in need of a magic kiss to awaken its potential.”
Within a few short weeks she’d transformed the space, introducing a lively palette that shows off her precious belongings while successfully coping with the architectural constraints of an older building. From the moment you enter the apartment you are confronted by the opulence of the emerald green walls of her studio. It’s an edgy initiation that sets the tone for what’s to come.
There’s more than a touch of 1950s Hollywood glamour to this penthouse-style apartment, so it’s no surprise that one of Hart Boden’s early influences was Tony Duquette – the American design icon famed for his lavish room sets and star-studded clientele. However, unlike her hero, Hart Boden uses a pragmatic mix of opposing pieces to create theatre and drama that highlight the individuality, elegant simplicity and bold graphic shapes of her furniture collection.
On the one hand, there’s a distinct discipline to her approach that veers towards a sense of symmetry and orchestrated geometry; on the other she skilfully introduces witty touches that trespass into the realms of fantasy. A case in point – the side tables with emu feet. “Although my work has an exuberant mix of styles, there’s a common thread that runs through everything I do – yet each space has its own identity,” she explains.
Hart Boden’s sense of theatre is personified in the dining area, where an outrageously kitsch 1976 Ettore Sottsass multi-coloured desk from the Milanese Memphis group doubles as a dining table. “This piece is great eye candy,” she says with a laugh. “It defies the everyday, the very point Sottsass was trying to make.”
Behind the desk even more colour comes from a quirky 1970s orange and purple Perspex sculpture that immediately demands your attention. “It’s nicknamed the bong,” says Hart Boden. “It’s an extraordinary piece.” A recurring theme in her decorative style is the palm tree, and this space is no exception. A large, silver-leaf standing palm lamp occupies a corner, taking the place of a conventional houseplant.
More treasures feature in the living space, which is divided from the dining area by a rare 1960s Paco Rabanne screen. “I bought it from a secret warehouse on the outskirts of Milan,” she says. “I will never part with it.”
She feels the same way about an unusual three-legged console table fashioned in the 1950s by Ico Parisi and bought in Clignancourt, Paris. “J’adore this piece,” she quips. A funky comma-shaped sofa that she designed adds more wit and luscious colour to the space, while the perfectly proportioned 1960s Marco Giovannelli polished stainless steel coffee table reflects the Danish brass and glass ceiling lamp above.
But while Hart Boden’s jewel of an apartment, with its glamorous mix of styles and trophy pieces, is a tribute to her exceptional taste and passion for glorious things, she avoids a signature style and never slavishly follows frivolous fashion.
Instead, she employs an inherent flexibility and open-minded approach to each project she undertakes. “I try to create decorative fantasies that mirror my client’s personality yet also give a sense of the unexpected,” she says. “I’m even designing a minimalist interior for a Hong Kong client this year.”
Whether she’s leaning in to the freedom of full-blown maximilism or reining it in for a less-is-more approach, you can be sure of one thing: Hart Boden will continue to surprise us with her rich imagination and originality.
Words by: Micheal Paul. Photography by: Micheal Paul/Living Inside.