A Hong Kong HQ by Brewin Design Office draws on its modernist building’s nature

A modernist-inspired office interior in Hong Kong by Brewin Design Office draws on its building’s 1980s Harry Siedler architecture

Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin dramatic modernist style waiting area
(Image credit: Common Studio)

In the decade or so since Robert Cheng founded Brewin Design Office in Singapore, the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard alum has become something of the architect of choice for elegant, thoughtful spaces – whether a cloistered library for a private collection of rare medieval books, a modern public lobby, or a luxury boutique hotel. 

exterior of Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin

(Image credit: Common Studio)

A Hong Kong family headquarters by Brewin Design Office

His latest project – a sleek new 8,000 sq ft HQ for a family office on the 11th floor of the Hong Kong Club Building – is no exception. 

The client’s brief began with a space that reflected the values and culture of the founding generation, but which would leave room for the next generation to evolve, especially as the business segues into investments and private equity.

Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin waiting area seating

(Image credit: Common Studio)

For Cheng, this required the insertion of boardrooms, sound-proofed meeting rooms and a trading floor in a way that balanced a familial mood with buttoned down professionalism. It certainly helped that the bones of the building – designed by the Australian architect Harry Siedler in the early 1980s – provided him with a vast, blank canvas formed by a column-free interior and mullion-free windows that open out to bracing views over Victoria Harbour and the Cenotaph. 

Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin corridor with seating and strip windows

(Image credit: Common Studio)

Inspiration for the visual cues came from various sources, not least the elongated planed lines of Siedler’s modernist granite facade; and subliminal nods to the family’s original shipping business by way of midnight-blue lacquered walls, curves that echo the lines of ship hulls, long torpedo-shaped ceiling coves, and, in the boardroom, a customised walnut table in the shape of an anchor. 

Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin timber clad interior

(Image credit: Common Studio)

Elsewhere, floors of dark-stained French oak and walls clad in American walnut are paired with bespoke furniture and classic pieces, among them, a ‘Marquesa’ bench by Oscar Niemeyer, and a ‘Croisillon’ lamp by Jean-Michel Frank. 

Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin timber clad meeting room

(Image credit: Common Studio)

For Cheng, designing family offices offers the opportunity to step away from the strictures of a standard workplace. ‘We have the leeway of making it a little more exciting, and being able to customise explicitly to the private owner’s requirements. Often, this allows for a larger front-of-house space as we’ve done here, as compared to a more traditional office, which typically would have more back-of-house spaces.’  

Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin timber clad study room

(Image credit: Common Studio)

If nothing else, these are busy times, the architect now skidding between working with David Chipperfield on a hotel in Nanjing, and another hotel in Kyoto with Kengo Kuma. 

Hong Kong brutalist inspired office by Brewin interior detail with blue painting

(Image credit: Common Studio)


Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.