AB Concept book explores timeless spaces, from Hong Kong malls to Algarve hotels

AB Concept book by designers Ed Ng and Terence Ngan unveils the art of timeless spaces, from carefully crafter chairs to decadent interior curation

AB Concept Paper Moon - W Hotel Algarve
Paper Moon restaurant at the W Hotel Algarve
(Image credit: Brandon Barré)

In creating The Art of Timeless Spaces, their new coffee-table book featuring the work of their studio, AB Concept, founders and designers Ed Ng and Terence Ngan would have been confronted by a store of extremely disparate residential and commercial projects that stretched back almost 25 years. We imagine ‘What to cover?’ turned quickly into an existential koan of ‘What to leave out?’

The solution was to confine the 336 thick pages of this handsome hardcover tome, published by Rizzoli, to projects created since 2018 - a five-year period during which, the book points out, ‘priorities have changed and luxury is more likely to apply to concepts such as time, space, wellness and consciousness than the big-time bling of the past.’

AB Concept I The Art of Timeless Spaces, book cover

(Image credit: Courtesy of AB Concept)

Navigating this new normal is the precise, insightful prose of Henrietta Thompson, our former Design & Arts Editor and editor-at-large here at Wallpaper*, who first encountered AB Concept’s work in Hong Kong, notably the monumental K11 Musea. ‘Ed and Terence have a real sensitivity and appreciation of art, nature and the changing seasons, and this - paired with genuine consideration for the human in every detail and decision - is what brings an unmistakable warmth and joy to every project. I hope the book goes some way to conveying this.’

Of the 23 projects that made the final cut of The Art of Timeless Spaces, it’s difficult to pick favourites. Each is striking and memorable in its own way, but the following stand out, perhaps, a little bit more.

AB Concept: The Art of Timeless Spaces

Itsu Sho Sha, Japan

Itsu Sho Sha interior

(Image credit: Courtesy of Itsu Sho Sha)

Of the three personal residences of Ng and Ngan featured in the book, the tree-clad estate in Nagano is easily the most complete expression of the duo’s design approach. Here, the landscape of mountains, cherry trees and red pine and horizon is enfolded into the high-ceilinged interiors, its serenity balanced by humour and great taste - a George Nakashima chair and Frank Lloyd Wright lamp here, a stuffed toy monkey and a bird-shaped mailbox there.

K11 Musea, Hong Kong

K11 Musea, Hong Kong I AB Concept

(Image credit: Courtesy of AB Concept)

Billed as the world’s first cultural-retail destination, K11 Musea is a sprawling complex is mesmerising in its interlocking layers of colours, textures and patterns. So much so that the grand stores of the actual tenants - Loewe, Delvaux, MoMA, among them, no slouches - feel almost like an afterthought.


W Algarve, Portugal

W Algarve - Guestroom Balcony

(Image credit: Brandon Barré)

AB Concept’s first hotel project mines local colours, materials and traditions to create an otherworldly space, whether the intricate patterns of mosaic floors, entire walls clad with plates, or a head-turning mass of multi-hued handblown glass lanterns cascading from the ceiling.


Viola Chair

Viola Chair

(Image credit: Poltrona Frau)

For Poltrona Frau, Ng and Ngan created a chair that artfully blends Frassino Mika wood with 60 strands of the design house’s signature Belle Frau leather, each hand-stitched into the frame. The result is a sleek, low-slung piece of furniture designed for long meals in a soigné restaurant or just sitting pretty at home.


Kohler Experience Center, Shanghai

Kohler Experience Center, Shanghai I AB Concept_ The Art of Timeless Spaces - Rizzoli

(Image credit: Courtesy of AB Concept)

Theatrical barely begins to describe Kohler’s first flagship store in China, every inch of its 44,000 sqft, four storeys and roof terrace sheathed with tactility and aspirational set pieces. The theme of water is gently semaphored. Ceramic dishes form the shape of a splash. The façade features handblown glass modules created in collaboration with Lasvit, whilst the bathroom fixtures themselves are set in a veritable Eden of hanging green walls.


AB Concept: The Art of Timeless Spaces, published by Rizzoli. $85.00 / £65.00 / €75.00 

Available from Amazon

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.