Lighting The Way

Selecting the right lighting is as important as choosing furniture, says Alex Henrich, CEO of IROCO Design. He has some tips:

Be Creative with Accent Lighting: It’s no secret one light source cannot meet the diverse requirements of a single space; a living area of around 20 square meters, for example, should have at least three to five light sources. Create a reading corner with a free-standing light (try our Pivot Lamp), place decorative table lamps on sideboards, shelves or occasional tables to spread accentuated light (the Tripod Table Lamp is very versatile), and emphasise paintings, sculptures, shelves and cabinets with wall lamps or carefully positioned ceiling spotlights. In bathrooms and kitchens, install brighter, task lighting for vanity units and work surfaces.

Diffuse Light: Diffusers spread soft light evenly within a room, creating immediate atmosphere. Our Box or Egg Table Lamps have the dual advantage of creating a warm glow, and being very much on-trend! With standard or floor lamps, using the right bulbs can also make a significant difference.

Size Matters: Consider size when choosing fixtures, as lights that are too small or overlarge can mess with a room’s proportions. A general rule of thumb is that a lamp should be no more than 1.5 times the height of the piece it is sitting on, and lampshade diameter should be no wider than the table top.

All Lampshades are not Created Equal: Darker lampshades create a more dramatic effect, localising light above and below the shade, while lighter shades allow more light into the room. The Bougie Black Lamp will light a space entirely differently to the Bougie Transparent, for example.

Utilise Height: When lighting a small floor space, use height: torchiere or tall floor lamps (try IROCO Design’s vast range of lighting, or the King Floor Lamp or Tripod Floor Lamp) provide plenty of light without taking up space on the floor or a table. Another way to avoid cluttering floor space is to use sconces on the walls; these can also work particularly well as bedside lighting.

Out On A Limb

Elegant and timeless wood – and especially dark wood in cocoa-coloured, hazelnut, or rich chocolate brown – is very much back in fashion this year, says IROCO Design CEO Alex Henrich. Of course, wood has always been one of the natural choices for furniture-makers through the centuries, but today’s artisans and designers are imagining striking new uses for this versatile material.

Henrich believes Portuguese designers such as Boca do Lobo and Insidherland are taking the lead where furniture design is concerned, incorporating many different types of wood or wood finishes into their collections. See some of Bocadolobo’s incredible and innovative designs (including the Frank Chest of Drawers, the Queens Highboy, the Guggenheim Nightstand or the Eden Patina Coffee Table), or Insidherland’s Four For Luck Console, Into The Woods Bookcase, or The Special Tree Cabinet. The founder of Insidherland, architect Joana Santos Barbosa, says she is influenced by organic forms of nature, legends and traditional culture, and the furniture is certainly strikingly original and imaginative.

In interiors, cladding a wall in wood panelling might seem like a retrospective move (think back to the seventies love affair with vertical wood slats), but this year, it’s shaping up to be one of the most contemporary and on-trend designs. We’re not advocating chalet-style strips of cedar wood, of course, but the clever use of timber to create texture and warmth: a fashion a growing number of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops are readily embracing. A restaurant in Mexico City, Canalla Bistro, has created an elegant scale-like effect by overlapping pieces of wood on the walls, and other designers are using it on ceilings or counter tops. Suppliers are appearing to meet the demand for goods: Wonderwall Studios based in The Netherlands, or Teak Your Wall in Brussels both have stylish and innovative collections using a variety of materials such as tropical hardwoods, vintage rail sleepers or recycled teak from Indonesia.

The Ones To Watch

By keeping a watching brief on the best new designs, and by nurturing our relationships with the most talented global designers, IROCO Design is in a unique position to offer customers the most exciting and innovative products on the market, says CEO Alex Henrich. His tips for the products and makers set to storm the market this year:

SOFTWALL BY molo: Canadian company molo produces extraordinary modular partitions which can be manipulated to create discrete and interesting spaces, or simply provide a beautiful backdrop in any room. The fluid, flexible Softwalls are made from textiles, and can open up to a maximum length of 4.5 metres. A clever system of concealed magnets allows each Softwall to easily and seamlessly contract or expand. There’s even an option to integrate LED strips, turning the partitions into amazing sources of light. Click here to see our selection of molo furnitures for purchase in Hong Kong.

FOLLY BY RON ARAD: Design genius Ron Arad’s Folly is a rust-coloured, wavy plastic bench that has been designed to resemble the infinity symbol, with curving backrests stretching upwards at each end. Constructed from rotational-moulded polyethylene, the bench is suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and can accommodate up to ten people.

BALL MODULAR BY LINA FURNITURE: These funky, colourful ball-chairs are equally at home in gardens, parks and open-air terraces, as in hotel lobbies or airports. This playful product won the Red Dot Design Award in 2014, and the seating combinations – utilizing three large ball chairs and a small two-in-one ball-backrest or armrest – are as comfortable as they are stylish. The 3D removable covers are available in 36 colours, which can be mixed and matched.

FLASK BY TOM DIXON: Tom Dixon believes any designer worth his salt should be concerned about choice of materials, but for him, it’s a veritable obsession. His new lighting designs, fashioned severally from etched metal, blow-moulded polycarbonate and glassware are breathtaking; of particular note are the iridescent, luminous Flask pendants.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on a few remarkable brands emerging from Portugal: most particularly DelightFULL and Insidherland. Their innovative use of locally sourced products and centuries-old craftsmanship are redefining contemporary furniture making.

Can the Right Furniture be a Work Of Art?

Hong Kong is now the world’s third largest art market, with – it is reported – auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s selling more contemporary artworks in their Hong Kong branches than the rest of their salesrooms combined. The city has also become an important destination for buyers and gallerists: Art Basel began exhibiting in Hong Kong four years ago, and Art Central – part of the city’s wildly popular Art Week – returned in March for its third edition, hosting 32,000 international collectors, curators and art enthusiasts.

Apart from showcasing some of the world’s most beautiful and inspiring artworks, Art Basel and Art Central have something else in common – IROCO Design has provided rental furniture for both shows. Providing the right ambience and aesthetic means furniture for seating or reception areas must enhance, not detract, from the artworks – and after all, beautiful furniture can be works of art themselves, according to New York architect Lee F Mindel. He once remarked: “Furniture is usually considered part of the decorative arts, but the blurring of the line between the disciplines of art and design opens furniture to the art category. Furniture is being marketed as art, so it’s on topic with the way the contemporary art world works. Interiors are no longer decorated, they are curated”.

To create an interior with understated elegance that was suitably striking and contemporary, the organisers of Art Basel sought input from IROCO Design in designing the layout and look of the show; furniture was selected from Arper, renowned for its minimal design, clean lines and high quality (see image below). The Italian design company produces a range of beautiful pieces with pleasingly fluid curves and shapes – see Meety for architectural tables in which the top appears to hover or float over sleek aluminium legs; Catifa 53 for graceful chairs which are as comfortable as they are stylish, or Parentesit – an innovative acoustic wall module designed to reduce extraneous background noise, and create an enclosed space. IROCO Design has a large selection of Arper products for purchase in Hong Kong.

IROCO Design was also responsible for the design and layout of furniture at the popular Art Central show, held in the same week in Hong Kong: the bar was furnished with Pedrali’s Inox tables and Babila stools in black (see image below).

Al Fresco Options

Outdoor Furniture Options

Outdoor furniture sales are on the rise, and manufacturers are producing increasingly innovative pieces to withstand weathering and create a splash on the patio.

Sonia Jackson, CEO of IROCO Design, looks at 2017 trends.


Make it Shine: Illuminated furniture is still very much on trend, and adds instant atmosphere to any outdoor gathering. Slide Studio make an elegant selection of softly glowing benches, tables and poufs, and the illuminated Ball collection is glamourous and fun. Cordless and rechargeable outdoor lights are also practical; look at the Pivot Lamp from Carlo Constantini, or the Bijoux lamp from Wortmann.

Blending Indoor & Out: Outdoor contract furniture in Hong Kong looks increasingly similar to indoor – Serralunga’s zany Sirchester Sofa is rain-repellant but mimics the comfort and style of a classic Chester, while Philippe Starck’s polyethylene Magic Hole Sofa is stylish but practical, as is Palomba’s Plie Armchair. Invest in versatile outdoor furniture that is movable or multi-functional; tables with wheels, foldable chairs, or seating that doubles as storage. Ross Lovegrove’s BD Love Lamp provides both lighting and seating, and is also an exuberantly lively sculpture. IROCO Design is proud to offer a stunning selection of cutting edge contemporary furniture.

New Brights & Weaves: While black and brown finishes are still perennial favourites, there is greater expression in colour, shape and prints for 2017, especially where cushions and outdoor accessories like beanbags are concerned. Peacock, coral or fiery red tones; multi-coloured yarns; braiding, and exciting new weaves and textures are all on trend. Vondom has the most exciting collection of brightly coloured sun chaises and chairs – see images below.

Raw Materials: Along with the trend for metals in interiors, unfinished stone, concrete and steel will be popular outside, too. Aged patinas on brass and steel bring a warm feel to an outdoor area.


Click here to see our selection of outdoor furniture for purchase in Hong Kong.

The Art of Dining – The Importance Of Fine Restaurant Furniture

The right restaurant furniture can make or break a new business venture in Hong Kong, but which pieces should you choose?

Alex Henrich, CEO of IROCO Design, has some tips:

Plan The Design: The starting point for every restauranteur is the aesthetic or theme of his eatery; envisage the design as a whole, and choose complementary colours, patterns and materials. There’s a psychology behind the colour and design of restaurant furniture which is well-researched: it shows neutrals such as black or brown create a warm and positive feeling, reds and yellows stimulate appetite, but cool colours like blues can act as appetite suppressants!

Consider Your Clientele: The restaurant furniture you choose will ultimately help to attract your clientele: older customers tend to prefer conventional, fabric-covered chairs and a table, while informal benches with refectory-style tables are popular with a younger crowd.

Calculate Available Space: Work out exactly how much space you can devote to seating, and – depending on your design – whether booths will seat more customers than traditional tables and chairs. Aim for the maximum number of tables and chairs, while leaving enough room for staff and customers to circulate.

Create a Mood: Shape, height and length of tables can all affect the mood of a restaurant; large, round tables engender discussion, for example, while high cocktail tables encourage mingling. Lighting is also important: it creates atmosphere and mood, but should be appropriate to the restaurants’ style or theme.

Prioritise Quality: Always buy the best quality, restaurant contract furniture you can afford: pieces at the budget end of the market don’t last, and will be a false economy. Choose pieces that are waterproof, easy to keep clean or wipe down in hygienic plastic or polyethylene, and that are free of deep crevices or grooves where food can collect. If you buy chairs with fabric seats, treat the fabric with a stain resister, and budget in professional cleaning a couple of times a year.

A smarter choice in contract furniture

Enhance the look and feel of your Hong Kong restaurant and speak to the team at IROCO Design today to learn how we could support you.

Furniture Goes Back To School

With construction budgets for new schools increasingly squeezed, the focus has turned towards upgrading and renovating older buildings, and also to the importance of investing in new school furniture to transform spaces into modern learning environments. Enhance the ways in which your students interact with their surroundings and offer them more opportunities to work, study and learn with functional, beautiful school contract furniture.

The educational power of furniture

The buzzwords in education are interaction and collaboration, and the contemporary classroom looks like a very different place in 2017. As new styles of teaching emerge, school contract furniture in Hong Kong needs to respond: it needs to be easy to reconfigure, to accommodate a variety of group sizes, and to enable teamwork and co-operation.

Pedrali firmly believes the places people learn can play an active role in engaging and empowering them, and is combining a research-based approach with design expertise to spearhead the development of stylish yet functional classroom furniture that can really engender learning.

Certainly, studies show real-world learning environments help prepare students for the professional workplace, by making them familiar with the concept of meeting spaces or conference rooms: a student role-playing a clinical situation, for example, should have furniture and equipment similar to what he/she might encounter post-graduation.

For schools, Pedrali believes ergonomics is also key. It was previously believed too much body movement meant loss of concentration, but modern research shows educational furniture that provides rocking features or flexibility actually supports the body’s natural inclination to shift posture.

IROCO Design has extensive experience in the sourcing and curation of furniture for educational environments across Hong Kong. If you’re looking for a simple solution for your school contract furniture needs, start a conversation with us today. Click here to see our selection of school furniture for purchase in Hong Kong.

The Rise & Rise of Design & Furniture in China

When Design Shanghai opened its doors last month at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, IROCO Design provided the hospitality contract furniture for the common areas in the venue – as it has done, every year (IROCO Design supplies hospitality furniture for most of Hong Kong’s major exhibitions)– but there were some important differences to the show itself. The venue included two new design halls (one dedicated to kitchens and bathrooms, the other to home office,) and for the organisers, there was a confident expectation visitor numbers would easily exceed the 46,000 who crammed into the 2016 show – itself, a 15% increase on the previous year. In fact, visitor numbers exceeded a record-breaking 50,000!

An expanding furniture market

Traditionally, most exhibitors have been established European brands, keen to capitalise on the rise of the new urban Chinese middle class, who are eager to invest in their homes. The rise is, after all, exponential. According to a recent McKinsey report, only 4 per cent of households were classified ‘middle class’ in 2000 (earning between $9,800 and $37,000 annually); by 2012, 68 per cent of China’s urban population fell into this bracket – and McKinsey predicts that by 2022, a new upper middle class (earning $17,300 to $37,000) will account for 54 per cent of residents in China’s cities.

The rise of Chinese furniture designers

But interestingly, the growth at Design Shanghai primarily accommodated China’s rapidly expanding pool of talented home furnishings designers; names that are, increasingly, making waves on the global stage. These designers are marrying traditional oriental craftsmanship and style with western aesthetics and showing how, like Nordic design, this combination can be elegantly incorporated into contemporary homes – with thrillingly original results. Pioneering designers include Yao Yejun of Studio Mushitiangong, who produces wonderful designs inspired by nature and native handicraft techniques (see his Lotus Coat Hanger); Tianyu Xiao of Tianyu Design who created Writable, a traditional Chinese tea table fitted with reversible wood and slate panels that can be written on; and Zhiming Lian and Ke Wang of Idee, creators of the extraordinary Jellyfish Crystal Chandelier. A host of talent with breathtaking new designs and ideas are coming up behind them. Watch this space.

The Role Of Furniture In Human-Centred Hospital Design

Over the last twenty years, the healthcare industry has begun to take a keen interest in the relationship between physical environment, human response and healthcare outcomes. There is growing consensus that thoughtful, human-centred design in hospitals or clinics has an indisputably positive effect on patients and caregivers, but facility managers are often faced with a dizzying assortment of choices and decisions. A typical new 200,000 square foot, 120-bed inpatient hospital may have over 1,600 individual pieces of hospital contract furniture, and this will likely be replaced many times. Where then, to start?

What makes a comfortable, safe hospital?

The California-based Center for Health Design ( compiled a checklist in 2011 for furnishing successful health and wellness environments, and this includes much sound advice. Hospital furniture in Hong Kong should have smooth, non-porous, easily cleanable surfaces with no joints or seams, for example, and materials for upholstery should be impervious. When it comes to ergonomics, however, there are more complicated factors to consider. Ideally, hospital furniture should be sturdy and stable without sharp or hard edges, to reduce falls or associated injuries; seat heights should be adjustable with posterior tilt angles and seat back reclines, with space beneath the chair to support changes in foot position; and locking casters should prevent rolling away. Furniture should be flexible enough to be configured into different groupings, for smaller or larger family groups, and research shows attractive, non-institutional designs that suggest a link to nature make a positive difference.

Building the future of healthcare furniture

Herman Miller has partnered with Nemschoff to focus on these human needs, producing a number of innovative hospital furniture designs that improve how people deliver and receive care. The Ava recliner has a lean form and thoughtful features that appeal both to patients and caregivers. Both comfortable and comforting, the recliner maximizes maneuverability with pivoting arms, easy to use controls and reverse recline. Italian manufacturer Pedrali also has credentials in the healthcare area. A good example of a perfectly outfitted space is the Matilda Hospital in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. IROCO Design worked closely with the hospital to provide Pedrali’s stunning Volt ( chairs for the catering area, and Kuadra chairs ( for the conference room (see images below).