Known for their pastel-toned interior aesthetic and customizable furniture, architecture design duo Vincent Lim and Elaine Lu have made quite the splash in Hong Kong’s emerging interior design scene. The Cornell-trained architects turned interior and product design pair are partners both in work and in life. They’ve had quite the landmark year; from developing a range of innovative contemporary furniture pieces, to turning heads with their self-designed Happy Valley home, Vincent and Elaine have managed to establish Lim + Lu as a multi-faceted design firm that can do it all. Not bad for a hobby that began as a creative respite from their corporate lives.
Now based in Hong Kong full time, Vincent and Elaine are primed and ready to take full advantage of the abundant resources and interior design opportunities Asia has to offer. Their latest venture? The Reform Carpet Series – a pair of unique modular geometric carpets, designed in collaboration with Tai Ping, that can be reconfigured to create your very own unique carpet design. Here, we catch up with the duo to find out more about these extraordinary design pieces. Stay tuned for the pair’s top tips on how to stylishly incorporate rugs into your home aesthetic.
What was the inspiration behind the Reform carpet series?
Elaine: With the Reform series we wanted to challenge the traditional rug design. We started questioning why is a rug always static? Why is it always a rectangle? A central concept for a lot of our designs is flexibility – our Frame Table, for example, allows the user to reconfigure the design based on their lifestyle – so we started thinking, can we do the same thing with a carpet? What if the same piece could fit in a hallway and a smaller, different shaped room? That’s when the idea of using modules came in – modules that allow users to create different sized rugs whilst still maintaining the same quality and same aesthetic.
With the Reform I, the concept was to put our interior palettes on a carpet. We have marble modules in there, we have wood patterns and we have some metal in it. Tai Ping translated our palette through textile and we think it is quite amazing how well it turned out.
Why is this aspect of flexibility in furniture design so important to Lim + Lu?
Vincent: Everyone wants to feel like an individual, and what’s important to us is how to achieve this in design without having to customize everything. Now that we’ve been working more with furniture, we understand how expensive certain things can be when you want to go custom. We want to provide a platform for customization without fluctuating the price of our designs. We also want users to get a sense of customization and personalization without this really affecting the overall design.
Were there any challenges that came from working with textiles for the very first time?
Vincent: Definitely. I think the biggest challenge was getting the colors right. Because we’re designers who work with color a lot it was important to us to get the right kind of shade, the right hue. The colors can get very distorted depending on the carpet making technique – for instance, whether they high pile or low pile it, or how they knot it – so we did a couple rounds of trying to get the colors right with Tai Ping. Overall though, the whole process of working with Tai Ping was quite smooth.
How do you recommend to style the Reform carpets in a home?
Vincent: I think it actually goes very well with our other furniture pieces because that’s how we designed it, so gold polish items and metal bases with pastel colors. I think there are multiple ways you can play with this rug – it’s quite versatile because it has so many colors in it, you could just pick out certain colors in the rug to match the rest of your interior with. I think it would also go nicely in a white room with neutral furnishings and a wood floor.
Elaine: It’s really so flexible because it can also be hung as a wall piece. That’s what we did for our exhibition at the ICFF. So many people thought it was wall art at first; they were very surprised to learn that it was a carpet.
Do you have any advice on how our readers can incorporate statement rugs into their own homes?
Elaine: Don’t crowd it with too many things and don’t have too much going on around it. In general, I think a rug should complement the space.
Vincent: I think also when it comes to statement rugs, people are afraid to use bold and striking colors; but I think that’s the beauty of a statement rug, it’s really there to make a statement so I would say don’t be afraid to be bold. Especially as quality rugs tend to cost a lot – if you’re going to spend that money then choose something that really shines.
Can rugs work in smaller homes and apartments?
Vincent: I think it depends. A rug definitely needs breathing room; I think that’s what makes a rug really pop in a space. It’s like when you go to a gallery, a painting always has white space around it. I think the same principle applies with rugs – for a rug to be truly appreciated it needs room to breathe. Even if you have a small apartment you can still have a big rug as long as you give it sufficient breathing space.
What is the biggest mistake people tend to make with rugs in interior design?
Elaine: Choosing a style that doesn’t match with their decor. I have a lot of friends who are like ‘I want a Persian rug’, but then their home has a Scandinavian theme. You need to think about the big picture; don’t just buy things you like without thinking how it will fit into your space.
Vincent: As a general comment I don’t like it when the full sofa is either on the rug or off the rug – that’s a pet hate of mine!
Many thanks to Vincent and Elaine for taking the time to chat to us!