Next week Hong Kong celebrates the Mid-Autumn festival, traditionally a time when families get together to enjoy each other’s company in the great outdoors. With the welcome cooler climes, particularly in the evenings, now is the time for barbeques, patio parties and rooftop gatherings. But is your outdoor space fulfilling its true potential?
We all know space is scarce in Hong Kong, with every square foot coming at a premium. Our apartments are generally painfully pokey, but many come with balconies and rooftop areas that make for lovely open-air escapes at this time of year.
While indoorsy types might baulk at the idea of being left defenceless in a sweaty, bug-filled environment, never underestimate the pacifying power of mist fans, parasols, shade sails and insect traps. Once you’ve got the general climate and environment under control, the possibilities are endless; a small folding table and chair on which to take your morning coffee, a modular lounging sofa to fit any space, or even a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen and dining table for al fresco fiestas.
A trip on The Peak tram or a top-deck bus ride around Stanley will allow you to peer into some of the gorgeous outdoor oases created by modern Hong Kongers. However, according to Craig Pallister – Director of Everything Under the Sun, the city’s leading provider of high-end outdoor furniture – Hong Kong’s outdoor culture has taken a while to cultivate.
“When we stared the company 17 years ago there was little or no market for outdoor furniture in Hong Kong,” said Craig. “A big part at the beginning was educating people on outdoor lifestyle, and explaining that with the right products and accessories, you can make outdoors an extension of indoors, even with Hong Kong’s small balconies and rooftops.”
But outdoor furniture doesn’t get an easy ride in this weather-worn city of ours, having to deal with humidity, heat, rain and high UV levels in more or less equal measure. It’s therefore important to go for durable, quality materials if you want your new outdoor space to last longer than one season.
Having decked out the outside areas of top five-star hotels – including Langham Place in Monk Kok, TOTTS @ Excelsior on Gloucester Road and the Four Seasons Hong Kong – Everything Under the Sun knows which materials will go the distance. Craig recommends cushions, beanbags and sofas made from either Sunbrella, a durable outdoor fabric, or something completely waterproof such as synthetic leather or Texilene. For tables, he favours a fade and crack-proof Dutch material called HPL, usually used as buildings classing.
The company also designs and manufacturers its own furniture line, SunWeave, made out of durable, hard-woven polyethylene, and stocks products made from sustainably-grown Indonesian teak, a hard wood perfect for outdoor living.
However, the Pièce de résistance at Everything Under the Sun’s huge 10,000 square foot Southside showroom is no doubt the BBQ section, spearheaded by the multitasking Cadac Braaimax. With two independent cooking areas and interchangeable surfaces including grills, a wok, a pizza stone and a paella pan, this South African-made beauty will change outdoor cooking forever.
“Barbequing is a very social thing that gets everyone together in a relaxed environment, and there’s so much more you can do besides sausages and burgers,” said Craig. “Although you can’t always guarantee the weather here, you can still enjoy the whole outdoors living ethos, which hopefully comes with sunsets and beautiful views.”