Alex Mok and Briar Hickling of Linehouse on Interior Design
Hong Kong/ Urbanite/ Interior Design

Linehouse’s Alex Mok and Briar Hickling Talk Sleek Residential Design

Linehouse Alex Mok and Briar Hickling Talk Sleek Residential Design

Form and Function is our home to explore the journeys of Hong Kong’s physical makers, the architects, and interior designers who create defining spaces we use to party, eat, and live in. Behind every building and room in our architecturally marvellous city is a master of their profession.

Linehouse is a forward-thinking architecture and interior design practice that has been making waves in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Auckland since its establishment in 2013. Founded by two visionary designers, Alex Mok and Briar Hickling, Linehouse seeks to represent young female design talents in Asia and push the boundaries of style with a strong emphasis on place and craft.

The team's collective experience ranges from small-scale and intricate designs to grand and public projects, allowing for an overlapping of design disciplines and a holistic approach to their work.

Pushing boundaries and redefining Asian design, Alex and Briar are passionate about their work. The Beat Asia interviewed the pair to understand their drive for creating meaningful and liveable spaces in Hong Kong and Asia.

What first attracted you to the world of design and architecture?

Briar Hickling: I grew up on a farm in Gisborne on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island. I have always felt a strong connection to the land, culture, and people of New Zealand. A sense of place and identity has always resonated with me personally, and naturally this translated to architecture and interior design.

Alex Mok: Ever since I was a child, I was always drawing and making, so I knew I wanted to be an architect early on. I enjoy the creative process of working through design problems and coming up with the unexpected.

What motivation did you have to open Linehouse in the design space?

BH: Our approach is purposeful, creating poetic concepts through research, cultural, urban, and historic contexts, and responding to the program, site, and function. Whether it is architecture or interior, our approach is always the same.

Through the process of design, each project has a strong narrative, a focus on craft and unique spatial experiences with a dynamic intersection between disciplines.

What inspires you in Asia and your connections to the West to tend towards your design styles and principles?

AM: [As someone who's] half-Chinese and half-Swedish who grew up in Asia, namely Hong Kong [and] Bangkok, as well as in Europe, I was exposed to many cultures and influences from a young age. With all our work, we always seek to be contextual for the place, history or culture in which we work.

We would never say our style is Western or Asian, but more of a modern and playful interpretation of a certain brief, site, or location.

BH: When I first moved to Asia, I was inspired by the streetscape and how you see people living in a very public way compared to New Zealand and Australia. Asia has such a rich history to draw inspiration from.

Growing up in New Zealand, [I witnessed how] people live with a deep connection to the landscape and surroundings. Interior and exterior spaces are always considered in harmony through spatial arrangement and materiality. I think this fluidity between the interior and exterior has always been a grounding principle in my work.

Stretched between the cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Auckland, how do you maintain a standard and command of your designs with your far reach across APAC?

AM: Linehouse is more about collaboration, not us as individuals. We have assembled a diverse team that works across many scales and design disciplines. We aim to learn from each other with regular dialogue [and] sharing [of] ideas. We take care of our respective projects, and [do it] together where necessary.

We have the benefit of having worked across Hong Kong, mainland China, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, so our processes for cross-border engagement are well defined. We now have about 15 people in both Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, respectively, and six people in New Zealand.

What makes a house a home, and how do you negotiate with clients to build great liveable spaces?

BH: We have a strong understanding of how to make projects functional, whilst maintaining a poetic spatial concept. Our residential projects combine architecture, interiors, product design, and landscape design. Initially, we will spend a lot of time understanding how they live and aspire to live, and research the site and context to make best use of views and natural light.

We offer a unique vision through form, detail, material, and light, whilst seamlessly integrating their requirements. The outcome offers a home beyond their expectations and dreams.

What projects in Hong Kong are you most proud of?

BH: We recently completed a new lifestyle hotel called Ying’nFlo in Wan Chai, which is part of the Langham Group, aiming to break the traditional hotel narrative of serious spaces and strict boundaries.

We also completed a four-story home on the south side of Hong Kong Island. In response to the site, we brought a coastal essence and seamless connection between the interior and exterior spaces.

BaseHall was one of the first modern food halls to hit the Hong Kong F&B scene, and a new type of project for Hong Kong Land at the time. Jardine House is such an iconic building in Hong Kong cityscape. I love the early ‘70s-period of architecture in Hong Kong, and this retro nostalgia was referenced in the design.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Form and Function interviews here.

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