Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. Each week in 27 Questions, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims, aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration it takes to sit through a two-minute speed date.
In a time of Zoom meetings and work-from-home arrangements, we’ve all come to wonder about the future of homes, offices, and communities at large — and how they are being shaped by the pandemic. Earlier in September, Danish furniture house BoConcept made the timely announcement for its winners of its Home Design Awards 2020. For this second edition, the awards challenged designers — both professional and rising talents alike for the first time — to transform a 650-sq.-ft. Hong Kong apartment under the theme ‘home sanctuary.’
The results couldn’t be more inspiring: From student entries that ruminate on the need for comfort and privacy for cohabitants working from home, to the winning professional entry by Starz Pasha’s leading creative duo Maggie Mo and Jay Leung, which focused on pops of healing green hues to contrast with the smoke and bustle of the concrete jungle outside.
This week on 27 Questions, we speak with Maggie Mo, design director of the long-time interior design firm. Formerly Mars Design & Construction, the firm was renewed in 2018 as Starz Pasha Ltd, and has been behind a range of home and business projects across Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China for the past eight years.
Brought up in Vancouver and Hong Kong, Mo is particularly credited for the ability to capture and merge the unique sensibilities of Asian and western residences that work particularly well in a multi-faceted city such as Hong Kong.
“The inspiration behind the design of the BoConcept Home Design Awards was to create a fresh and playful home sanctuary by using hues of green as the main color scheme — to contrast from Hong Kong’s ‘concrete jungle,’” Mo said. “Due to the recent global pandemic, we wanted to create something [that you] can associate with the vitality of nature and healthy living.”
Another side effect of the pandemic was in a renewed reliance on new technologies to create and showcase the winning designs — something that has been adopted across Starz Pasha’s latest projects. For the BoConcept design itself, the duo used pioneering CGI technology to create a virtual reality ‘guided tour’ so that designers can offer a walkthrough of their brainchild — ‘in person,’ so to speak. Mo comments, “BoConcept has shown us that such CGI technology can work in coherence with designers in today’s world to perfectly demonstrate the size, characteristics and materials used in an interior space.”
She adds, “we are starting to see a significant difference on how we communicate with our clients. From online meeting platforms to VR/AR experiences, we were able to portray our ideas visually without meeting face-to-face.”
Following the duo’s well deserved win, we sit down with the designer for a behind-the-scenes chat — touching on topics from her long-time role model, daily routines and the best thing about her own home.
Name: Maggie Mo
Neighbourhood: Hung Hom
Occupation: Interior designer and design director of Starz Pasha Ltd.
1. What’s the most annoying about living in Hong Kong?
2. How many countries have you been to?
Around 20 countries, looking forward to travel to more countries after the pandemic.
3. What is the top destination on your bucket list?
Bhutan — a spiritual tour to the “Kingdom of Happiness”
4. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? which do you wear the most often?
I own around 50 pairs of shoes, most of them are heels which I don’t wear often. As an interior designer, I visit construction sites frequently, which is why I am in my sneakers all the time.
5. Who is your role model?
Kelly Wearstler. She is one of the world’s most famous female interior designers. My favourite quote from her is “Take risks! You have to venture outside your boundaries. That’s what life’s all about.”
6. What is your biggest regret in life?
I did not get to say goodbye to my grandma when she passed away. My greatest fear is losing my loved ones. I always remind myself to cherish and respect the people around me.
7. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
8. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a morning person. I love spending quality time with my daughter before going to work each morning.
9. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
The panoramic view of Hong Kong skyline: I always find that Hong Kong is such a fascinating place whenever I look out from my living room window.
10. When was the last time you drove a car?
The last time I drove a car was two years ago. I used to enjoy driving a lot when I was living in Vancouver, for some reason I found it very challenging to drive in Hong Kong. Sharpening my driving skills is going to be part of my 2021 New Year’s Resolutions.
11. Which phone app do you think more people should know about?
Audible — listen anytime, anywhere to a large selection of audiobooks.
12. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
13. What is your typical Sunday like?
I usually start every Sunday morning with a Zoom yoga class (the best invention due to CoViD) and then I prepare lunch for my family. In the afternoon, we always take our daughter to do some outdoor activities.
14. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?
15. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?
Understanding Dayo Wong Tze-wah’s stand-up comedy show.
16. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
The scent of ginger flowers.
17. What is one movie everyone should see?
‘A Star is Born.’ I cried my eyes out when I watched it in the theatre.
18. What is your drink of choice?
H2O in any form, simply because has zero calories. I’d rather spend my calorie intake on food.
19. What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?
My father’s 60th birthday dinner: My parents are based in Canada, and I do not get to see them often. On my father’s 60th birthday, we all gathered in Hong Kong to celebrate my dad’s big day along with all our relatives and good friends. Seeing my parents happy made it one of the most beautiful moments in my life.
20. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?
Yes, I am (only if my husband isn’t lying, that is). I love hosting dinner parties for my friends and family. My most requested dish is Slow Cooked Iberico Pork Chops with Japanese Ginger Sauce.
21. How often do you prepare your own meals?
Probably just one or two meals a week. I wish I had more time to cook though, cooking is so therapeutic to me.
22. When did you last ride the Star Ferry? Where did you go?
I took the Star Ferry from the Tsim Sha Tsui to the AIA Carnival last year — the stunning view of Hong Kong never gets old.
23. Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Tell us about it.
I’ve never experienced love at first sight with human beings, but I’ve experienced it when I first met my dog, Diva. I’ve always wanted to have a teacup-sized Yorkshire Terrier growing up. When I met Diva for the first time, I felt this strong connection between us, so I decided to bring her home. We became best friends after that.
24. Do you have a catch phrase?
There are always two sides to everything. Where there is bad, there is also good.
25. Would you rather never be alone for a single moment, or be alone for the rest of your life? Why?
The more good people around me, the happier I am. If there are no good people, then I am happier alone.
26. What is your favourite childhood memory?
Going on adventures with my brother and cousins in my parent’s hometown.
27. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Vancouver, where I can be close to my family.