Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Fila x Jason Wu

FILA x Jason Wu: Athletic-Wear Reinterpreted

We know high fashion collaborations are a dime a dozen today but this is one we’re seriously coveting. The perfect amalgamation of sports luxe with high fashion, the FILA x Jason Wu collection is a modern reinterpretation of some of FILA’s most iconic pieces.

Ladies can expect iconic tennis dresses and classic sporty separates, while the guys will appreciate the wide selection of polos, pants and shorts, all boldly emblazoned with a recurring color-blocking motif (courtesy of Jason Wu, of course).

The collection will only be available both in select retail locations in Hong Kong and online this fall.

Find out more about the collection at L’Officiel.com now.

K-Pop Star T.O.P. Curates Sotheby’s Art Auction

Choi Seung-hyun, better known as T.O.P., is no stranger to the Asian music scene. Hailing from the very popular South Korean band Big Bang (V.I.P.s raise your hands!), T.O.P. has an enormous fan following – and it is this reach that Sotheby’s is trying to tap into. For the first time ever, Sotheby’s Hong Kong has invited a young art collector – that means T.O.P. – to curate a contemporary art sale, in a bid to encourage a younger audience to get interested and involved in the art market.

In case you didn’t know, T.O.P. wasn’t chosen merely for his fame – he’s also a fan and collector of modern art. One need only look to his Instagram for an illustration of our point: apart from the occasional selfie, it is full of art. In an exclusive interview with Men’s Folio Singapore, T.O.P also reveals that he comes from a family of artists, so he’s even had some art “training” to his name. Throw in his role as co-curator for Singapore’s ArtScience Museum’s 2015 exhibition “The Eye Zone”, as well as his Visual Culture prize at the Prudential Eye Awards, and the logic behind Sotheby’s choice in T.O.P. becomes clearer.

While the exact lots in the auction have not been announced yet, Sotheby’s contemporary art sale has already been scheduled for October 3, 2016. A portion of the proceeds raised during the auction will go towards the Asian Cultural Council, which offers grants, programs and support to artists in order to encourage cultural exchange.

Watch the video below for more information. (Or, if you were here more for T.O.P. than the art auction, watch the video below to stare at his handsome visage.)

Auction: David Bowie Private Art Collection

Behind the flamboyance and music that was the late David Bowie, was an avid art connoisseur whose private art collection will soon be up for auction. While his life was spent in the public eye for nearly 50 years, his passion for art work was something like a hidden secret — much like his battle with cancer.

Damien Hirst; Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting, 1995 Household gloss on canvas £250,000-350,000

Damien Hirst; Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting, 1995
Household gloss on canvas £250,000-350,000

In November, a three-part auction will see over 400 of his prized pieces go under the hammer. The highlight, happens to be 200 pieces of Modern and Contemporary British Art featuring artists such as Henry Moors, Graham Sutherland, Frank Auerbach and Damien Hirst. “Art was seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way I feel in the mornings.” said Bowie to The New York Times back in 1998. “The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through” he added.

Ettore Sottsass; ‘Casablanca’ Sideboard, 1981; £4,000-6,000

Ettore Sottsass; ‘Casablanca’ Sideboard, 1981; £4,000-6,000

Prior to the auction, selected pieces from the collection will travel on a Preview World Tour through London, Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong from July 20 to October 15. Those in the vicinity of Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries in London, can also get a glimpse of the collection from November 1 to 10. We expect significant interest in this auction, especially the Jean-Michel Basquiat piece “Air Power” (1984). You might recall that Bowie played the role of Andy Warhol in Basquiat, the 1996 Julian Schnabel biopic. Such extraordinary provenance means “Air Power”, acquired by Bowie in 1997, might be hotly contested by collectors. In any case, Basquiat is currently in vogue, as our previous reports attest.

Romuald Hazoumé Alexandra, 1995; Found objects; £5,000-£7,000

Romuald Hazoumé Alexandra, 1995; Found objects; £5,000-£7,000

A spokesperson for the Estate of David Bowie said, “David’s art collection was fuelled by personal interest and compiled out of passion. He always sought and encouraged loans from the collection and enjoyed sharing the works in his custody. Though his family are keeping certain pieces of particular personal significance, it is now time to give others the opportunity to appreciate – and acquire – the art and objects he so admired.”

Updated Icon: Shanghai Tang Round Sunglasses

If you’ve ever watched a Wong Kar Wai movie and never felt inspired by the decadence of the cast’s 1960s Asian-inspired wardrobe, we know you’re lying. This season, Shanghai Tang brings back the forgotten vision of Chinese chic with three new colour combinations of its iconic retro Chinese round frames sunglasses.

The Hong Kong-based company also celebrated the launch of its latest eyewear collection with a Pre-Summer cocktail party, an extravaganza which saw the attendance of celebrities such as Korean actor Jin Goo of Descendants of the Sun fame.

Read more about the collection and the launch party at L’OfficielSingapore.com now.

Hong Kong is World’s Priciest City for Expats

Hong Kong has beat the capital of Angola for the dubious honor of being the most expensive city for expats this year. Yes, for those who don’t recall, Luanda has topped a rather unflattering list that often left people wondering what the hell Luanda is…

Well after three years at the top of the list, Luanda was pipped to the post following the weakening of its currency, and a considerably stronger Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar. The annual list, compiled by consultancy firm Mercer, is designed for companies to gauge allowances for expat workers. More than 200 items are considered in each of the 209 cities across the world, including the cost of housing, food, transport and entertainment.

It is status quo for expats in Singapore and Zurich. Zurich and Singapore remain unchanged in third and fourth position on the list respectively. You may recall that Singapore topped another list like this one so do remember that who the list is meant for. With a stronger yen, Tokyo was jumped six places up the list to become the world’s fifth most expensive expat destination. Kinshasa of Congo made its debut on the top 10 list by ranking sixth this year, beating Shanghai, Geneva, N’Djamena (that’s in Chad in case you wondered) and Beijing.

Mercer said that rankings were affected by “volatile markets and stunted economic growth in many parts of the world”. True enough, the cost of living in several US cities rose proportionately with the backing of a strong currency. Conversely, cities in countries with a weakening dollar have become more economical. The weakening of the Russian Ruble has resulted in Moscow tumbling 50 spots down the list – from 17th costliest city to the 67th.

Expats living in the UK also have reasons to rejoice (sort of). London dropped five places to 17th, while Glasgow dropped 10 places to 119th and Birmingham fell 16 places to 96th position. Now that Brexit is here and the sterling is taking a beating, all these cities will become less painful on the bottom line…

Hong Kong Debut: Galeon 500 Fly Powerboat

It has a brand new hull and a great deal of interior space on all three decks so it is no wonder the Galeon 500 Fly powerboat is a highly anticipated yacht. Set to arrive in Hong Kong later this year, the 16.2-meter yacht boasts a 725hp engine and a maximum load of 4,270kg. The award winning “European Powerboat of the Year 2016” is one that brings a series of innovations to the Galeon Range.Galeon-500-Fly-galley

With three distinct aft configurations to choose from, the 500 Fly is set to be a third generation yacht. The choices are endless: full-sized garage, sundeck, classic L-shaped sofa, crew cabin set-up or even a roto-seat option. The unique beach mode feature extends the width of the cockpit to almost 5.8 meters by dropping down both port and starboard sides.Galeon-500-Fly-galley-2

Up on the flybridge, one can choose between a wet bar, sundecks and a second helm station. The option of two different garage possibilities and powerful hydraulic bath platform allows for a range of engaging water sports possibilities. Thanks to glass doors that can be moved easily, the maindeck hides the saloon. A flush floor hides the cockpit area that is linked to the maindeck.Galeon-500-Fly-master-suite

Entertaining guests is a breeze with the help of an outdoor bar while the saloon is a well-lit area that provides a comfortable space to relax in. Below deck, guests have access to three cabins and two bathrooms that cater to up to six people. The master cabin is fitted with a double bed and a walk-in wardrobe along with an ensuite bathroom for added privacy. A VIP cabin on the bow provides two more guests with a series of skylights above the bed while a guest cabin is spacious enough for two. The guest cabin can also be converted into a study, wardrobe or additional leisure area should the need arise.

Diamond-set Hermes Birkin Breaks Auction Record

A diamond-encrusted crocodile-skin Hermes handbag with white gold details has broken the record for the world’s most expensive ever sold at auction, fetching nearly $300,000 at a Hong Kong sale.

The rare Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30 went to an unknown phone bidder late Monday for HK$2.32 million ($298,655), beating a pre-sale estimate of HK$2 million, the auction house Christie’s said.

“It was the world record price for any handbag sold at auction,” Bingle Lee, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Christie’s, told AFP.

Designer handbags are increasingly seen as investment opportunities and are the latest craze for collectors, taking global auction houses by storm and scoring record prices.

The new record beat one set last year, also in Hong Kong, when a fuchsia-colored Hermes bag sold for $222,912.

The handmade bag — described by the London-based auctioneers as the “rarest, most sought-after” — is encrusted with diamonds, while the buckle and trademark mini Hermes padlock are made of 18k white gold.

“It is believed that only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year, globally, making it one of the lowest production runs for handbags,” Christie’s said in a statement issued before the sale.

The bag was made in 2008 and is from Hermes’ iconic “Birkin” series named after actress and singer Jane Birkin, who was born in Britain and lives in France.

A smaller Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 25 handbag will go under the hammer June 1 with an estimate price of HK$1.3 million to HK$1.5 million.

The auction was part of the firm’s 30th anniversary sales to mark its presence in Asia, with a range of luxury goods on offer, including Chinese paintings, watches and wine.

Protect Your Wine In Hong Kong Bunker

While Hong Kong is growing into one of the major capitals for fine wine out there thanks to the incredible concentration of wealth (and the potential of China), there is of course the minor issue of space because the SAR is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Wine storage can thus be a bit of a hassle, creating an opportunity for people willing to provide protection for the wines of various collectors out there. In order to cater to the highest end of the spectrum, Crown Wine Cellars has converted an old British war bunker complex into a high-security wine cellar, perfect for protecting some of the finest wines out there.

The six Central Ordnance Munitions Depot bunkers, each spanning some 1,000 square feet, have been updated and transformed into state-of-the-art wine cellars. Security is so tight that clients are not allowed to enter the storage houses and can only view the collections in small rooms, where they’ll be watched closely by video cameras. Furthermore, staff must wear wetsuits when entering the cellars (to deter theft, not because they have an underwater level), and some vaults require three codes simultaneously inputted to open.

Safe as Houses

Why so much precaution involved? One can point to the fact that the cellar holds two of the world’s most expensive bottles of wine ever sold at auction: the Château Lafite 1869 that went under the hammer in 2010 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, fetching $232,692 apiece. And the client list will probably grow as time passes, given that imports are going up exponentially – to $1.5 billion in 2015, up from $206 million in 2007 according to Hong Kong Trade Development Council figures. The city also recently hosted the Vinexpo, Asia’s largest wine and spirits fair, showing their growing worth as a major hub for connoisseurs everywhere.

wine storage HK 2016

Even the government’s starting to take note – they’ve sought to encourage the storage industry by creating the world’s first Wine Storage Management Systems Certification Scheme in 2009. Crown happens to be one of the 37 companies certified, and has around 2,000 customers including major auction houses such as Sotheby’s. Gregory De ‘Eb, the company principal of Crown Wine Cellars, notes that there are “more than three billion Hong Kong dollars” worth of wine being managed by them.

Another such storage company is Wine Vault. Founded in 2008, they converted disused industrial space into individual climate-controlled wine storage rooms. The cellars span from between 40 and 80 square feet in size, and users can access their collection whenever they want, thanks to facial recognition software. All this adds up to a growing ecosystem to suit the various requirements and tastes of connoisseurs in the Asian city.

This story was written in-house, with an AFP report as the source and images from the AFP.

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Genting Dream Dream Cruises

Genting Hong Kong Launches Dream Cruises

“International in spirit, but Asian at heart” – that’s what Genting Hong Kong’s latest initiative, Dream Cruises, promises its passengers. And the first ever Asian-luxury cruise line keeps true to its word, starting with its exterior. The hull of the massive 335 meter Genting Dream is adorned by an art piece by Chinese pop-artist Jacky Tsai. Titled “Voyage of a Lover’s Dream”, the ethereal image is that of a journey of love between a mermaid and an astronaut – a metaphor for the boundless elements of water and space.

Dream Suite 2

Inside, the heart and soul of the ship is centered on Asian heritage and lifestyle. The 2,000-strong crew on deck accommodate up to 3,400 guests, leading the crew-to-guest ratio in Asia-based cruising with stellar Asian hospitality. The room options are more than impressive – more than 70 percent of cabins feature balconies, and the 100 connecting rooms make the journey more enjoyable for large groups and families. For a little decadence, the ‘Dream Mansion’ is a two-floor suite that comes with special guest privileges, European-style butler service and your very own grand piano.

UMI UMA

Within Genting Dream lie 35 restaurants and bar concepts, each capturing the flavors of Asia and the world. A 610-meter wraparound promenade allows for sea-side dining and an unadulterated view of the ocean during sunset.

Onboard, the sheer number of entertainment options will ensure no one has time to get bored. The pool features six exhilarating water slides, alongside a rock-climbing wall, while there are dedicated play rooms for toddlers. The health-conscious will enjoy the full complement of health and well-being facilities, including yoga classes and spas. Millennials (especially Singapore ones) will be thrilled to find a familiar name onboard – the iconic Zouk will recreate the world-class clubbing experience that it is known for on high seas. A unique ‘retail-tainment’ concept will also be introduced, providing highly personalized shopping experiences such as trunk shows, personal shoppers and in-cabin services throughout the journey.

5 Water Slides

The Dream Cruise is slated to have her maiden cruise from her homeport in Guangzhou (Nansha Port), China on November 13, 2016, and will offer 2, 5 and 7-night Vietnam destination experiences.

From November 13, 2016 to January 1, 2017, the five-night cruise will provide guests an opportunity to take in the panoramic views of Vietnam’s Da Nang and Ha Long Bay; from January 1 to March 31, 2017, revel in the vibrancy of Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City during the five-night cruise. Both itineraries will have an option of a two-night weekend cruise to Hong Kong.

Zouk Beach

“We are delighted to introduce and launch Genting Dream in Singapore, featuring exciting and highly-acclaimed Asian destinations as repositioning cruise ports-of-call including India, Singapore, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong,” said Thatcher Brown, President, Dream Cruises. “Dream Cruises aims to be a pacesetter in the cruise industry in the region. With the finest Asian and international experiences, Dream Cruises aims to redefine vacation travel with a transformational journey at sea.”

Visit DreamCruiseLine.com for more information or call 6808 2288.

4 Asia-Pacific Wine Trends Revealed at Vinexpo

We’ve previously covered wine trends in Singapore and Japan, now Vinexpo brings us the findings from Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Here, we bring you the four major trends of wine consumption in these Asia-Pacific countries.

1) Reds over whites

The consensus is clear: reds continue to be the wine of choice in Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, accounting for 89 percent, 74 percent and 83 percent of market share respectively.

In Taiwan, this figure is forecasted to grow by another 13 percent by 2019. Taiwanese consumers tipped back 1.45 million 9-liter cases of red wine, compared with 180,000 cases of white and 2,500 cases of rose. Even so, the reception of white wine is expected to grow 14 percent by 2019.

While Koreans generally enjoy reds for its purported health benefits, white wines are also fast gaining favor for pairing well with Korean cuisine. It is also interesting to note that the per capita consumption of wine in South Korea has doubled over the last decade, to average 0.8 liters of wine a year. Between 2010 and 2014, the per capita consumption grew nearly 40 percent, and is expected to rise another 20 percent over the next five years. This marks the consumption in South Korea as one of the sharpest increases in the Asia Pacific region.

img_0193_.8415f142002.h0

2) French wines are still preferred, except…

French wines are reported to be the most popular import in Taiwan with 37 percent of market share and Hong Kong with 27 percent. After French wines, Australian, US and Chilean wines are most popular. Between 2010 and 2014, US wines saw major growth, increasing by 41 percent.

Taiwan’s share of French wines is expected to dip due to the increasing popularity of Chilean wines (currently second in popularity at 18 percent), which are perceived as better value for money. US and Australian wines follow closely behind.

South Koreans bucked the French wines trend, favoring Chilean wines, with 10.2 million bottles imported a year.

3) Getting tipsy over bubbly

Like the Japanese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong people have developed a taste for sparkling wines. Vinexpo reported that its popularity has increased by a remarkable 51 percent over the last five years in Hong Kong, driven largely by the growing popularity of Prosecco and Cava which grew a whopping 89 percent and 110 percent respectively. Meanwhile in Taiwan, a 15-percent increase by 2019 is projected.

shutterstock_42.9fc36144936.h0

4) Spirits still high in demand

As the world’s third largest market for single malt Scotch after the US and France, Taiwan boasted a consumption of 1.813 million cases of whisky in 2014, a figure expected to swell up to 1.921 million cases by 2019. Cognac and Armagnac are the country’s second most popular spirits.

The focus in Hong Kong, however, is on tequila and rum as its consumption is expected to grow 36 percent and 21 percent between 2015 and 2019 respectively. The popularity of whisky remains stable with 186,000 9-liter cases consumed, topping cognac at 77,000 cases. People in Hong Kong are also increasingly exploring Japanese whisky and American bourbon.

South Korea – the third largest spirits consuming nation in Asia-Pacific after China and India – has reported a decline in consumption of local spirits such as soju and baijiu. However, tequila, vodka and gin have marked improvements of 17 percent, 12 percent and 14 percent respectively.

The Vinexpo 2016 runs 24 – 26 May 2016 in Hong Kong. 

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Yen for Champagne: Japan Set to Lead Asia-Pac

Forget Sake and Shochu. According to the latest Vinexpo study, it seems the Japanese are developing quite the taste for bubbly. In fact, the study forecasts that Japan is on track to become the leading market for champagne and other sparkling wines by 2019.

Thanks in part to the growing popularity of lower-priced Cavas and Proseccos from Spain and Italy, the consumption of sparkling wine has been forecasted to grow 23 percent between 2015 and 2019. To put things into perspective, this equates to roughly equates to 4.84 million cases, overshadowing Australia as the largest market for bubbly in Asia-Pacific. To put this into even greater, though perhaps more confusing, perspective, Japan has a population of 127 million while Australia has roughly 24 million. We have to wonder what in the world is happening down under but we digress…

world-oldest-champagne

 

The surprising result (the Japan news, not our belated Australia observation) was revealed at Vinexpo Hong Kong, a three-day trade-only show for international wine and spirits professionals. Japan is one of the six countries, besides Singapore, to be profiled.

Here are some of the other trends emerging from the event.

France losing market share to Chile

Chile has the signing of a cost-advantage free trade agreement with Japan to thank for its whopping 144 percent rise in wine exports. French wines might still have the largest market share but Italian and Spanish wines have also seen an increase of 46 percent and 79 percent respectively over the same period.

Wine consumption set to continue growing

The Japanese wine consumption is set to reach a whopping 46.7 million cases between 2015 and 2019. That’s 14 percent of the market share, which will rank the country behind China and Australia in the Asia-Pacific region. Yes, Australia is punching way above its weight class again.

Overall spirit consumption set to decline

Spirits such as gin and vodka are expected to decline in popularity, in stark contrast with the rising fortunes of wine. The projected decline between 2015 and 2019 is a significant but manageable 7 percent. Whisky, however, continues to keep its market share, with consumption reaching 12.38 million cases and projected growth of 12 percent over the next five years.

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines & spirits and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Vinexpo HK Reveals Singapore’s Favorite Wine

In the never-ending battle between red and white wine, Singaporeans have chosen a winner. In the run-up to Vinexpo Hong Kong, consumption trends in Singapore, as well as five other Asia-Pacific countries were analyzed, revealing a clear preference for red wine. It was revealed that red wine represented 70 percent of the market in Singapore, with 645,000 9-liter cases consumed in 2014. In contrast, only 251,000 cases of white wine were consumed in the same year, though that figure is set to grow slightly by 1.2 percent by 2019.

Australian wines have been shown to dominate the import market in Singapore (there is no other market in Singapore as the island has exactly zero wineries), holding a 38.5 percent of market share as compared with Chilean wines at 16.5 percent and French wines at 16 percent.

On another front, whisky remains Singapore’s favorite spirit (judging by our associate publisher and designers’ office bar, we agree), with its popularity projected to rise 14 percent by 2019. Cognac and armagnac – the second most popular spirits – are slated to decline nearly six percent over the next five years, mainly due to the declining numbers of Chinese tourists.

Gin and tequila are the fourth and fifth most popular spirits, with consumption predicted to spike through to 2019: gin is predicted to grow by 29 percent and tequila, 23 percent. Where is rum in all this, we have to wonder…

The Vinexpo 2016 in Hong Kong will be a three-day trade-only show for international wine and spirits professionals to converge to exchange ideas and knowledge. Held from 24 – 26 May 2016, the event is expecting 16,700 buyers from 24 countries and 1,300 exhibitors from all over the world.

Guide: Hong Kong Property Outlook 2016

Home to one of the world’s largest property markets, Hong Kong (HK) has seen a decade-long rise in residential prices, fueled by mainland Chinese demand and the low cost of borrowing within the country. Official figures by the HK Rating and Valuation Department suggest that residential prices reached a high in July, 2015, with a price tag of HK$151,462 ($19,543) per square meter (psm) for properties under the size of 40 m2.

However, this boom is set to end with the advent of 2016 (best available data), as global financial events trigger predictions of a drop in both rental and housing prices. Our friends at Palace magazine published this report in the first quarter of 2016, looking ahead to the rest of 2016.

Source: Squarefoot Hong Kong

Prices psf vs months. Source: Squarefoot Hong Kong

According to the South China Morning Post, property market analysts expect an 8 per cent to 10 per cent decline in rental and residential home prices in 2016. A number of circumstances have been cited as key reasons for the drop in prices, chief among them are the US interest rate hike and the dampening effect of China’s economic slowdown.

Signs of a cooling property market emerged earlier, in August 2015, as HK residential sales numbers hit their lowest in 17 months at 5,197 transactions, due to investor caution amidst a speculative economic climate. The HK sales volume figures published in Nikkei Asian Review suggest that this trend will continue on, as the number of completed sales dropped further to 2,800 units in November 2015.

A Slowing Dragon: The Chinese Factor

The plunge in the number of HK property transactions can be partly attributed to the loss of momentum in Chinese growth — a phenomena which can be traced back to a slowdown in the country’s massive trading and manufacturing sectors.

In the face of an economic downturn, mainland consumers have cut back on all forms of purchases, including property investments in HK’s secondary market.

A report released by Bloomberg Business in December, stated that the proportion of Chinese property transactions in the HK market had fallen sharply from its peak of 12 per cent in 2011 to 6 per cent during the first six months of this year.

This trend is also indicative of the results accomplished by cooling measures that have been put in place since 2009. In a bid to quench the heavy demand generated by foreign investors and scalpers, solutions such as a 15% Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) and Special Stamp Duty (SSD) were implemented to dissuade non-locals from snapping up property for profit.

The Rising Cost of Borrowing in HK

Likewise, the lifting of US Federal Reserve interest rates by 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent, has been predicted to have a dampening effect on activity in the HK property market. As the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the greenback, home mortgage rates are expected to rise and impact property affordability accordingly.

Moreover, news of the interest rate hike coincides with an ongoing trend of rising property foreclosure numbers— an article published by Bloomberg Business reported that case figures had increased to “80 from about 50 to 60 in the first half of 2015”.

Although these changes signify added threats to HK’s residential market, their influence might be less significant than expected.  For instance, in Knight Frank’s December market analysis, it was pointed out that a jump in interest rates by 100-basis-points would only necessitate an additional payment of HK$500 per month for a HK$1 million loan, assuming a 20-year repayment schedule.

Source: Hong Kong Housing Authority

Stock of flats in public and private permanent housing, Source: Hong Kong Housing Authority

More Affordable Homes for Locals?

Growing interest rates aside, other market trends point to the possibility that HK homes might actually become more affordable in the coming year. Knight Frank estimates that there will be close to 110,000 new homes added to the market supply from 2016 onwards to 2020. On a yearly basis, this translates into an increase of 22,000 housing units in heavily populated areas like Yuen Long, Tsueng Kwan O and Kowloon.

Consequently, this increase in property availability can be taken as a sign of cheaper homes to come; prominent HK developers have already begun to cut prices while offering attractive mortgage plans as their answer to the steadily rising supply of new properties.

Bloomberg Business reports that major players, like Cheung Kong and Henderson Land, are currently offering a series of discounts that will enable interested buyers to save up to 14 per cent of their purchase costs. That said, if there is ever a good time to buy a home in HK, it is in 2016.

 

Story Credits
Text by Tina Chopra

This article was originally published in PALACE Magazine

Interview: Photographer Peter Steinhauer

Award-winning fine-art photographer Peter Steinhauer recently showed at REDSEA Gallery Singapore his Singapore ‘Number Blocks’ and Hong Kong ‘Cocoons’ series based on having lived in the two cities during 21 years of residing in Asia.

Singapore ‘Number Blocks’ is a series that captures the bright colourful number markings found on the sides of HDB buildings of Singapore. For Steinhauer, the interest lies in the unusual colour schemes and deliberately scripted fonts used on these government housing blocks that are the very heart of the multi-cultural integration that is Singapore. Meanwhile Steinhauer’s ‘Cocoons’ series documents the surprising beauty of a construction technique native to Hong Kong – the bamboo and fabric nets that encase the ‘metamorphoses’ of a building project.

Peter Steinhauer’s work is held in collections at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and numerous private and corporate collections worldwide. Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Steinhauer developed an early fascination and appreciation of culture which culminated in him living in numerous cities throughout the US, Stockholm, Sweden, Hanoi, Saigon, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Describing himself as a purist from a photography background not a digital artist, Steinhauer speaks with Art Republik about Singapore, Hong Kong, and his work.

What’s your favorite building in Singapore?

My favourite building is not one that many would probably think or know of. It is an old shop house on the corner of Jalan Besar and Veerasamy Rd. The most beautiful detailed building in Singapore in my opinion. Painted a light pastel blue, accented with emerald green small square tiles with pink roses with emerald green roof trim and terracotta tiles. The detailing of the glass tiled windowed doors and the ornately flower looking carvings on the faced is something that I look at every time I pass it. No one makes houses like this any longer.

HDBs and their corridors are loaded with nostalgia and psychic weight for Singaporeans, featuring often in art films. Why do you think that is?

The character of them. It is Singapore, and has the identity of Singapore within them. Again, it brings it back to the culture, the multi-cultural, race and religion that make up Singapore. The background of Peranakan, Chinese, Malay mix, the food and way of life. This is what makes up Singapore, not the Marina Bay Sands. Beautiful, yes, but it is not the culture and background of Singapore. You find it, like in any other Asian culture, in the working class, foundational groups of people, and in Singapore, they are in HDB’s. I am sure this is why many films are made in or with them.

Block 167, Singapore, 2013

Block 167, Singapore, 2013

Tell us about your Hong Kong ‘Cocoons’ series.

In my ‘Cocoons’ series, the structures are encased in bamboo scaffolding, then the colored material is draped around the bamboo to stop debris and other things from falling onto the streets below. I first started the interest in these on my first trip to Hong Kong in 1994. I was living in Hanoi, Vietnam at that time and had to go to Hong Kong as my visa had run out. Outside of the old Kai Tak airport, I saw this massive building across the street and it was covered with bamboo and yellow material. I thought it was the environmental artist Christo and his wife Jean Claude wrapping buildings (as is their art) in Hong Kong. I quickly realised, after seeing others on the way to my hotel, that this was a construction process. I found them extremely interesting as they look like giant colored wrapped packages within a mono chromatic, dense concrete urban environment. I made images of these as well, snap shots if you will, every time I visited Hong Kong. When I moved there in January of 2007, I started photographing them as a full-time project. The ‘Cocoons’ book is under design as we speak and hope to have it published in 2016.

What first brought you to Asia, and what kept you here for so long?

My background with Asia, starting with my father being a doctor in the Marines in the Vietnam American war. I was born while he was there and growing up we always had slide shows of his snap shots of Vietnam in the living room; from third grade until a senior in High School, I gave the same slide shows for extra credit. He started going back to Vietnam in 1988 and helped start an organization that gives donated medical equipment from the US to Vietnam and developed friendships with people there through this work. I finished photography school and had a chance to go there to make my art and was going to stay for a few months. After one week there, I had felt so comfortable with it all and knew this was the place I was supposed to be. I travelled around Asia while based in Vietnam working on my projects and just felt that there wasn’t a better place for a photographer. I stayed for the next two decades!

What kind of camera setup do you have?

I work with Phase One IQ260 medium format digital back, which is a very high resolution 65 megapixels. It is attached most of the time to a Cambo WRS 1250 technical camera that is made for architecture. I use Schneider Digitar lenses and Lexar compact flash cards. Occasionally I use the Phase One camera body with the IQ260 digital back but mainly the technical camera. All my work is set up on a carbon fiber tripod. My exposures range anywhere from 1 second to 1 minute for most cases. Oh, and I like to work on cloudy days.

Why is that?

I prefer soft light. It focuses more on the subject and I can push the contrast more without losing details. You can see what’s hanging on their doors even if it’s in the shadows, you can even see through people’s windows.

What kind of a photographer do you consider yourself?

I’m not so much a social documentary photographer. I just take pictures of things because of the way they look to me. What interested me about the Singapore ‘Number Blocks’ is that someone took a lot of time to find color schemes and fonts — sometimes scripted or blockish or art deco fonts, some with drop shadow and lots of style — and I was intrigued that they put a lot of effort into all of that.

*For more information, please visit www.redseagallery.com

Story Credits

This article was originally published in Art Republik

Spring/Summer 2016: 4 Celebrity Collaborations

It’s always fun to learn of celebrity collaborations with notable brands. Here, we take a look at some of the most anticipated lineups for Spring 2016 you’d want to include on your shopping list.

Rihanna for Manolo BlahnikManolo-Blahnik-Rihanna

Rihanna isn’t showing signs of slowing down when it comes to collaborations. This spring, she adds yet another exciting project to her busy fashion plate with famed luxury shoe designer Manolo Blahnik for a capsule footwear collection entitled “Denim Desserts”. The collection includes six models: ankle boots, stilettos and thigh-high boots. The embroidery and beading featured in the designs, are inspired by the award-winning singer’s many tattoos.This very limited-edition collection goes on sale from May 5 in Manolo Blahnik stores in London, New York and Hong Kong.

Sonia Rykiel & Robert ClegerieSonia-Rykiel-Robert-Clergerie

One of Robert Clergerie’s most iconic designs makes a come-back from the 1980s with the help of Sonia Rykiel. The closed-toe wedge sandals with an ankle strap that sealed the brand’s success got a breath of fresh air with bejweled, striped and sequined designs. Fans looking to embrace the iconic style of the ‘80s can do so in June when the updated designs head to both brands’ stores.

Liberty London for Uniqloliberty-london-Uniqulo

Uniqlo has quietly edged into the top spot for designer collaborations after working with some of the industry’s best – think Pharrell Williams, UNDERCOVER and Jil Sander. This season, in celebration of Liberty London’s 140th anniversary, the Japanese chain brings a selection of charming floral prints by the English label to bloom on 20 Uniqlo designs, including T-shirts, dresses, pants and lightweight down jackets for women, men, children and babies. The range is out now in stores and online.

Kendall & Kylie Jenner for Neiman MarcusKendall-Kylie-Jenner-Neiman-Marcus

Kendall and Kylie Jenner have taken over the world one Instagram post at a time, and now they’re about to take over our wardrobes too. The capsule collection of chic, high-end pieces designed for Neiman Marcus as part of the label’s “#OnlyatNM” program sees moto jackets, shorts and maxi dresses designed by the powerhouse sisters, and is available in the luxury label’s stores or online at neimanmarcus.com.

 

Focus: Samujana Villas, Koh Samui

Koh Samui is today a renowned international holiday destination, with visitors and investors from all over the world. The number of visitors from Asian countries is increasing due to improved air links, with direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The large increase of high-end resorts between years 2012 to 2014 has repositioned the island as a luxury resort destination. The real estate market has also seen prices increased over the last few years.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana-Featured

Boutique luxury villa estate, Samujana, has unveiled its second phase of eight expansive new properties, adding to its existing collection of 25 luxury hillside villas. The project first opened in March 2012 as Koh Samui’s most exclusive and discrete luxury villa estate. Positioned in the most sought-after location on the island, it offers complete privacy, yet is within a few minutes’ drive from Samui International Airport. Set in a prestigious hilltop location which is walking distance from beaches of Choeng Mon and popular Chaweng, the all-pool award-winning villa estate overlooks a coral cove, giving each villa uninterrupted sea views and private beach access.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana3

The 25 villas at Samujana have been designed by Asia’s celebrated Gary Fell of GFAB Architects — each sensitively constructed in harmony with the natural rock outcrops and vegetation with a contemporary spacious design. With large en suite bedrooms, living spaces and dining areas, state-of-the-art kitchens, dedicated parking and private infinity edge pools, each property boasts uninterrupted luxury in a home away from home.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana4

Villa 30 is known not only as the jewel in the crown of Samujana, but the most impressive villa in Koh Samui, as one of the few places on the island with 360-degree sunrise and sunset views of Chaweng and Lamai, Choengmon and Plai Laem, Big Buddha and the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan. Situated at the very top of the estate, Villa 30 features five en suite bedrooms, a state-of-the-art cinema, private gym and a handcrafted spiral staircase. The villa also offers a breathtaking infinity pool, two fully equipped kitchens and incorporates the use of contemporary Asian art and accents throughout. From rain showers to Nuovo sound systems, a full service bar and rooftop barbecue deck, the villa is suitable for functions such as a soirée or intimate dinner party with friends.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana7

Villa 28, which has six bedrooms and extensive gardens, is perched high up on the estate and offers panoramic sea views. This 1,209sf villa is fully equipped with two designer kitchens sufficient to accommodate group functions, a private cinema complemented with a wide selection of films and TV shows, and an infinity pool.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana6

Guests can also enjoy the various amenities offered on the estate — private villa hosts, local and international cuisine from top, private chefs, an all-weather floodlit tennis court and access to water sports. Samujana has also partnered Koh Samui’s leading spa centers and a wide range of beauty and relaxation treatments can be provided in the privacy of villas. There is also exclusive charters of various sailing and motorboats, suitable for activities such as water-skiing, picnics on hidden beaches, snorkeling, sightseeing or sailing.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana2

Kurt Berman, General Manager of Samujana says, “we are focused on offering owners the very best return on their lifestyle investment. By operating as a boutique villa retreat with the provision of exemplary hospitality in such a stunning setting, we create an environment where owners and guests can discover a new state of mind”.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana

The development has been awarded various accolades, including the ‘Best Villa Development in Southeast Asia’, ‘Best Villa Development in Thailand’ and ‘Best Residential Architectural Design in Southeast Asia’ at the South East Asia Property Awards 2013, and was highly commended for ‘Architecture of Multiple Residences in Thailand’ at the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014, among others.Palace-Koh-Samui-Samujana8

Buyer Information

Property: Samujana

Location: Bontji Moo 4 Koh Samui, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand

Architect: Gary Fell of GFAB Architects

Highlights:

Walking distance to nearby beaches

Selected villas offer 360-degree sunrise and sunset views

Some in-villa facilities include large en suite bedrooms, a state-of-the-art cinema, private gym, infinity pool, kitchens, full service bar and rooftop barbecue deck

Spa treatments provided in the privacy of villas

Exclusive charters of various sailing and motorboat

Access to activities such as water-skiing, picnics on hidden beaches, snorkeling and sailing

Price: Price on Application

Date of Completion: Phase Two is complete, all villas are open.

Contact: www.samujana.com

Story Credits

Text by Domenica Tan

This story first appeared in PALACE Magazine.

Volvo Ocean Race Sails for Hong Kong in 2018

The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, will see the sailing event visit Hong Kong. Over the course of nine months and 40,000 nautical miles (74,080 km) the fleet of sailing yachts will stop off at more than 11 host ports.

“For 43 years the Volvo Ocean Race has visited the majority of the world’s most prestigious and iconic ports, with one obvious exception and that port has possibly the most wondrous waterfront in all the world,” Jon Bramley, the event’s director of news said at a press conference in the city.

Come February 2018, the participants will be visiting the site of the former Kai-Tak airport that is now an ocean cruise terminal, during the 13th edition of the race for up to two weeks. Other cities hosting the race that starts in 2017, include Alicante, Spain; Newport, Rhode Island; Auckland, New Zealand; Capetown, South Africa and well as Lisbon, Cardiff and Gothenburg before finally ending in the Hague, Netherlands.

The route has yet to be confirmed by organizers where competitors will spend weeks at sea between ports piloting their identical 65ft monohulls through treacherous waters. The seven teams made up of members from 19 nationalities including China, Ireland, Argentina and Antigua participated in that edition of the race will survive on a diet of freeze-dried food and a maximum of four hours of sleep a day.

Focus: Studio Munge

From Toronto to Hong Kong, Studio Munge’s interiors transport guests and residents into a world of sumptuous luxury.

Design aficionados often talk about how a carefully curated space affects the way you feel. This is certainly the belief of Allesandro Munge, design principal at Studio Munge, a Toronto based firm that specializes in luxury hospitality and residential interiors. “Most of my designs are emotion based,” he says. “Whether the guest enters a restaurant, a hotel lobby or a private residence, the initial burst of emotion is what I’m after.”

Since opening his studio in 1997, Allesandro Munge’s atmospheric interiors have reached an increasingly global clientele. His firm has partnered with Park Hyatt, MGM Resorts, Greenland Group, Wheelock Group and China Land Resources among others, often working on projects across several continents simultaneously.

Whether he’s creating a moody bar in Vancouver or a plush residence Hong Kong, Munge’s spaces are also decidedly upscale. “I will use every design element accessible, from bespoke furniture designs to the most luxurious finishes to translate our narrative and transport people into a world of hedonist luxury,” he says.01-Alessandro-Munge-Portrait

Born and raised in Germany to Italian parents, Munge came to design as a child when he began sketching designs for his mother’s drapery business. Later he expanded his visions to incorporate different elements of a room to create a comprehensive space. Professionally, he got his start at Yabu Pushelberg in Toronto where he worked for four years before breaking away with Sai Leung to form his own company. Fast-forward two decades and his firm has become one of Canada’s leading design studios.

Studio Munge is known for an innovative and eclectic approach to high-end interiors where choice materials and furnishings are often combined in playful, unexpected ways. At Taverna Mercatto, an Italian restaurant that recently opened in Toronto, Studio Munge combined barbed wire chandeliers and exposed beams with stained glass windows and reclaimed church pews to achieve a look that is part gothic industrial and part nonna’s living room. At Prohibition, the bar at Vancouver’s legendary Rosewood Hotel Georgia (where Munge’s studio also spearheaded a stylish restoration), Studio Munge created a sleek room with lush drapery and richly upholstered bar stools, a throwback to the age of decadence and glamour that includes an ornate ceiling clad in Macassar Ebosy, a custom glass-and-metal chandelier, an a 3,000 sq. ft. black stone bar.Studio_Munge_Prohibition_17

A keen eye for detail and love of lavishness also characterizes the studio’s prolific hospitality and residential work. (The firm is currently working on over 30 residential projects split between four design teams.) At the Ritz Carlton Residences in Toronto Studio Munge was tasked with creating model suites that exuded the refined elegance for which the brand is known. To convey tasteful sophistication the firm used rich woods like macassar ebony and patterned floors made of marble, limestone and granite. Since future owners would eventually customize their units, Munge concentrated on showing upgrade options such as brushed, satin-nickel hardware, walls custom-lined with wenge-stained oak and leather stitched panels. To add local flair Studio Munge commissioned art pieces from Toronto artists. To contemporize the space they designed a custom two-sided fireplace between the living room and the den.

Finding cohesive solutions for projects that demand a plurality of design languages and functions is not easy. Allesandro Munge attributes his success in part to his extensive world travels. “My extensive travelling is undoubtedly what influences me the most. The contact with foreign culture has had an immeasurable impact on my designs. It allows me to truly understand human nature, the psychology of the mind and what links us all.”Studio_Munge_Bisha-Sales-Centre_Credit-Evan-Dion09

Munge’s world travels became a central principle for another recent residential project, the Bisha Hotel and Residences. One of the developers, Charles Khabouth, was an early nightclub client of Munge’s who loves to travel and collect art and furniture. He wanted Bisha’s interiors to be ‘worldly instead of trendy’, filled with one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect the international inspiration of Studio Munge’s travels around the globe.

The flagship project is the latest private-label boutique hotel and residence brand to emerge in Toronto since the Four Seasons. It comprises a 41 storey tower, designed by Wallman Architects, 100 hotel rooms and over 300 residences that feature nine-foot ceilings, spacious balconies and custom-designed Studio Munge cabinetry.

Entering the building, Bisha’s interiors are meant to reflect the fusion of Toronto’s homegrown poise with an international flair. Studio Munge employed a tantalizing mix of opulent furnishings and textures including glass, wood, stone, gold-hued metals leathers and silks. The lounge features wireframe chairs from Minotti, a French sideboard bar unit from L’Atelier, a custom hide rug from Kyle Bunting and custom wall finish by Toronto’s Applied Arts Studios. At the bar, vintage Parisian wall sconces flank a gold circular fireplace; a glass sculpture by Jeff Goodman hangs from the coffered ceiling.

The opulence is palpable; yet the space is also designed to feel intimate, complete with ‘at home’ comforts. These days Munge says the lines between luxury hospitality and residential project are increasingly blurred.  While his luxury hospitality clientele is looking for intimate and curated spaces, “a home away from home”, residential developers are tapping onto the aspirational luxury hotel lifestyle. “They both are merging into a common sophisticated cosmopolitan lifestyle,” he says.Studio_Munge_IDS-Bisha-Credit-Tom-Arban_20

Munge says the biggest change he has experienced is to the actual scope of his design projects. “We’ve outgrown the client/contractor relationship and are now working in a much more symbiotic way with our prestigious clientele and developer partners.” This means the studio will come to the table with a deeper understanding of their client’s business needs, leading to stronger partnerships and more relevant designs both in concept and execution.

But business aside, the driving factor for Munge remains the desire to transport guests through his lavish and evocative spaces. “The beauty of Interior Design is that capacity to transform a human being’s mood and feelings through spatial experience.”

Q & A

You started your company nearly 20 years ago. Have your tastes and design ideals changed since then?

I wouldn’t say my design ideals have changed rather they have matured. As you age, learn more about yourself and become comfortable in your skin. It all starts influencing your aesthetic.Studio_Munge_Prohibition_04

Who are some of your favorite designers?

Many of our designs are inspired by architecture and fashion. I am not sure I can point to one favorite designer but I have always admired designers with a strong vision and sense of direction from the likes of Frank Ghery to Tadao Ando. They have such a great understanding of light and volumes; both artists perfectly materialize the intricate relationship between fluidity and human connectivity.

Do you think Canadian studios are sometimes overlooked when it comes to design?

15 years ago maybe… It’s a different story today. The digital world, ease of travel and communication have turned the industry into a village. Wherever you are based, clients are open to hiring you if you produce quality work. Plus our “conservative Canada” has evolved tremendously, clients are much more inclined to going out of their comfort zone.  I mean look at what Canada has produced…from the likes of Frank Ghery to Drake.Studio_Munge_Suites-at-The-Ritz-Carlton_Credit-Evan-Dion06

In addition to luxury condominiums you also work on private homes. Is there a private residence of which you are particularly proud?

The residential work I am the most proud of is a terraced private home I have been designing for the last four years. It’s one of those beautiful design stories that I cannot wait to share with the world. The architecture is extremely modern and resort like.  It is filled with gorgeous Canadian limestone, strong architectural features and sophisticated details.

What would you like to work on next?

I really need to find the time to finish my own residence! It’s been an ongoing project for years, a passion project of mine that requires much more attention that I am able to give right now. Hopefully 2016 will be the year.

Staff Credits
Text by Sophie Kalkreuth

This article was originally published in PALACE.

Diamond, Scroll Set Auction Records in Asia

Despite the China market blues, a rare blue diamond and a painting by Chinese master Zhang Daqian broke auction records at Sotheby’s April 5. The De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 raked in HK$248.29 million ($31.8 million) at the Hong Kong auction, just hours after a scroll painting by Zhang Daqian sold for a record-breaking HK$270.68 million ($35.93 million).

The 10.10 carat vivid blue diamond broke the record for the most expensive piece of jewelry sold at auction in Asia, but at the lower end of estimates which predicted it would fetch between $30 and $35 million.

Slightly larger than an almond, it is described by Sotheby’s as the largest oval blue diamond ever to appear at auction and “internally flawless”. It was sold to an anonymous phone bidder.

“It was a very successful sale,” Sotheby’s international jewelry division worldwide chairman David Bennett said.

“The fact that it’s a record price for jewelry in Asia I think speaks well about the Asian market… I think it’s alive and well and very healthy,” Bennett said.

The sale came hours after a scroll painting by Chinese master Zhang Daqian sold for a record-breaking HK$270.68 million ($35.93 million), also at Sotheby’s.

It was snapped up by Chinese collector Liu Yiqian’s Shanghai museum — the latest in a string of massive buys associated with the former taxi driver turned tycoon.

Zhang’s splashed ink and color scroll outstripped the top-end pre-sale estimate of HK$65 million, breaking the record for the artist’s work at auction.

A buyer from Liu’s Long Museum ended hour-long bidding for the work, entitled “Peach Blossom Spring”, with more than 100 bids cast.

The sales comes despite a slowdown in the Chinese economy which expanded 6.9 percent in 2015, the worst performance in a quarter of a century and a far cry from years of double-digit increases.

There are fears that the combination of the Chinese economic slowdown and an anti-corruption drive by President Xi Jinping could hit the Asia market — both Sotheby’s and Christie’s posted lower totals at their autumn sales last year in Hong Kong compared with the two preceding years.

Liu, who has been making record-setting purchases at auctions in the past few years, stunned the art world when he bought a famed nude by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani costing more than $170 million in November.

He set a record for Chinese porcelain in 2014 by paying over $36 million for a tiny Ming Dynasty cup depicting a rooster and hen tending to their chicks, know as the “chicken cup”.

Liu made world headlines by drinking from the cup after he bought it.

Auctioneers say despite China’s economic downturn, there is still demand for top quality collectibles, and demand stretches across Asia.

The “Seal of the Mandate of Heaven” which belonged to the Kangxi Emperor, the longest reigning Chinese monarch, is to be auctioned on Wednesday at Sotheby’s as part of its spring sales season, with a starting at a price of HK$50 million.

Insight: Resilience of Bangkok Property

Despite being hit by political turmoil, the robustness and resilience of the Thai market proved to be stable throughout the various turbulences. According to Suphin Mechuchep, managing director at JLL, part of the strength in the Bangkok market comes from a good balance between demand and supply in the market, as well as the political stabilisation in the second half of 2014.

Moreover, there are other factors that will add to the optimism of the market. For starters, Thailand’s reform roadmap—amidst the stability so far—will enjoy more clarity in policy and direction, and all of this will bolster investors’ and businesses’ bullishness and overall consumer confidence. Moreover, the military government had gone ahead with various major capital spending initiatives, seeking to stimulate the economy through major infrastructure investments, all of which are expected to lift the country’s macro-economy soon, which will in turn help to grow the capital’s various property sectors.

The main property players remain well-funded and have the means to acquire income-yielding assets, or to grow their land banks. In fact, some of these developers have launched their own real estate investment trusts (REITs), which are in turn partly funded by a vibrant stock market in the country. All these ensure a sustained institutional demand for property further upstream, which keeps the market growing at a healthy pace. Beyond local factors, global trends including a low interest rate and low oil prices translating into residential markets having improved household balance sheets (as energy costs now take up less income) are expected to bring about a boost in the local property market.

The trends seen in the market corroborate these observations. According to data from Colliers, over 11,000 condominium units were launched in the city in the second quarter this year, about 9.5 percent more than in the first. Over 75 percent of these new launches were in the area connecting Bangkok along new subway lines. Moreover, significant numbers of luxury condominium units were bought up by investors despite selling prices being high and a competitive leasing market (with investment yields only hovering at about 3.5 percent, based on JLL estimates). Most of such investors have bought for capital appreciation, as opposed to seeking rental income, since prime condominiums in central Bangkok see an average of 20 percent price rises between when they were offered for sale off-plan, and when construction is over.

Some fret about the weakness seen in local demand. According to the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the confidence of new home buyers (also known as the New Residence Buyer’s Confidence Index) fell from January to June 2015 to 63.9, the lowest in the past year. The weakness is said to be due to various factors, including a dim outlook that Thais in general have taken about their own economy. However, that gap is increasingly filled by foreign buyers, as many major Thai developers have gone overseas to market their projects, particularly in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. This has led to a rise in the average take-up of condominium units, especially for units in the price range of $260 to $520 psf, which registered a rate of 90 percent. Those in the higher range of $651 psf also did well, at 80 percent. What is clear therefore, is that the demographics and dynamics of the Bangkok market is changing, and that could be just where the next big opportunity is.

Story Credits

Text by Willy Teo

This story first appeared in PALACE.