Inside Fashion Designer Alice Keswick's Striking Home On The Peak
Fashion is out and interiors are in for Alice Keswick, the founder of fashion label Wondaland, and it’s proving a fruitful choice. Since the former model and fashion designer turned her creative hand to interiors, she has worked on properties for Merlin and Laura Swire on The Peak and in Shek O, and on Nick Buckley Wood’s colonial mansion on Chatham Path, Mid-Levels. But it’s in her own home that her distinctive creative talent shines brightest.
“My style is quite English eccentric with a bit of art deco,” says Alice. And walking into her house on The Peak—which she shares with husband Archie Keswick, heir to Jardine Matheson, and their two daughters, Coco and Grace—is much more like entering a cosy home in England than your typical Hong Kong abode, filled as it is with generous natural light and timeless furnishings, and enhanced with a dash of the fantastic.
From fashion to furnishings
Alice studied womenswear at Central Saint Martins in London before she and Archie moved to Hong Kong, where she spent time designing for Japanese denim label Evisu before starting her own brand. Then the couple moved to Vietnam for four years, during which Alice set up a studio and workshop where she did all her production for Wondaland.
Nods to the couple’s fond memories of Vietnam appear throughout their home. As well as antique furniture from the Southeast Asian nation, there are handmade lacquer accessories and pieces of furniture from friend James Lowther’s The Lacquer Company, which works with designers from around the world and highly skilled Vietnamese craftspeople.
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When the couple’s girls came along, Alice took a break from Wondaland. Reluctant to return to what she calls “the relentless pace of fashion,” she set out to follow her “actual passion,” interior design.
An appreciation for beautiful interiors was ingrained in Alice from an early age, as her mother is an interior designer. “She’s very good at colours,” says Alice. “And she likes to create a smart, symmetrical feel which means that she’ll use lots of pairs throughout the house. I’m a fan of not having things look too contrived— often I won’t use the same side tables or lamps beside sofas so it’s a little off-kilter, adding character.”
Interiors, for Alice, are not too far removed from fashion. “With each room, I almost always start with the fabrics, and from there I’ll go crazy with mood boards, playing around with ideas until a refined and clear plan takes shape. So I definitely start visually with what I would do with the fabrics, and that’s of course from fashion.”
As well as fun and fabulous fabrics, there are striking, sumptuous wallpapers and one-of-a-kind pieces sourced from the likes of 1stDibs, an online marketplace offering antique and vintage furnishings and art pieces from around the world, or created by Alice herself. She paints reproduction antique furniture, which she seeks out on trips to Vietnam, to make it more contemporary or fitting for its setting, or she’ll add mirrored elements to existing items.
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“I put mirrored tops on things quite a lot, just to lift things, especially in Hong Kong where you don’t have that much space and you need light and depth.” She will also re-cover sofas and chairs rather than go with new pieces, aiming to reduce waste, and even makes her own bedheads in various shapes and with an array of fabrics.
“I love prints and texture. I don’t love too much colour and I don’t love bold. Everything has to have a richness in terms of colour, texture and print, without being overpowering, And then a blending of old and new,” says Alice of the overall vibe she strives for. And it’s one she says is similar to her fashion style.
Making it personal
The Keswick home is set over four floors. On the ground floor, a generous living room is ideal for entertaining whatever the season, with a working fireplace and doors that open out onto the garden. Adjacent to this warm, welcoming space lies Alice’s whimsical Beverly Hills-inspired study.
“This is my favourite room in the house; it’s my sanctuary,” says Alice of her office. It’s easy to see why, with its pastel-hued furnishings, unique finds from 1stDibs, lacquerware to remind her of Vietnam and wallpaper with a banana leaf motif, not to mention the natural light streaming in from the garden. It’s also home to a piece of her grandmother’s furniture, an antique writing desk Alice brought over from England. “It’s so nice having old things in Hong Kong,” she says.
Upstairs there’s a playroom where the couple’s little ones can let loose, ensuring sophisticated style stays forefront elsewhere, and a large kitchen off an attractive dining area. Here the feel is totally different from downstairs, with tropical vibes and elements of the outdoors that form a continuation of the green views offered by the large windows.
Bedrooms take over the floor above—the master and one each for Coco and Grace, all combining the intriguing combinations of print and texture that feature throughout, while at the top of the house lies a guestroom with art deco-inspired en-suite shower room featuring geometric mirror and black-and-white tiling.
From top to bottom, artworks abound, some bought in galleries, such as the large David Mack in the living room from the Glaswegian artist’s sought-after Hong Kong series. Others are reminders from trips and travels, like a large Buddha statue purchased during a family holiday in Cambodia.
Elsewhere, fun, lively items reflect the couple’s zest for life, whether it’s whimsical wallpaper by Aimée Wilder, scallop lampshades by Matilda Goad, or the hand-painted candle shades by Susannah Garrod that add playfulness to the dinner table. And it all provides an insight into the spirited, refined contemporary design that Alice has to offer when it comes to interiors.
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