Lucas Sam is not one to shy away from a challenge. The restaurateur founded coffee shop Coffeelin in Sai Ying Pun three years ago, determined to serve up the famed Milanese GRISO coffee, albeit in a compact, less-than-ideal space. Now in 2021, Lucas had the budget to dream big, enlisting the help of designer JJ Acuna to breathe fresh new life into the brand’s second storefront, a coffee and cocktail bar in Happy Valley. The space, awash in an emerald green, oozes a timeless elegance while still offering a warm, inviting feel. Lucas invited JJ Acuna to recreate this same sentiment in his very own home.
Lucas only just moved into his new home, a 1,071 square foot apartment in Ap Lei Chau. “When I first thought of a place to move, a few things popped up in my mind, first it must be a place near the seaside, second, it should be a dog-friendly area, and third, easy to access but I should also be able to enjoy good vibes” And Ap Lei Chau very much fit the bill. Although a smaller apartment, every design element in the space feels intentional. This is thanks to designer JJ Acuna’s attention to detail: even air conditioners have been placed behind aesthetic white metal netting to prevent anything unsightly.
JJ Acuna had Lucas’ full trust going into the process. “I will share my overall style preferences with JJ and his team, but for the most part, I just followed the approach by JJ since his work in his previous projects built my trust in him – amazing masterworks of interior design.” The two had worked together on Coffeelin in Happy Valley, a place where Lucas’ home shares many similarities. Both spaces are heavily inspired by Milanese style and the mid-century modern era, from the furniture sourced to the finishing works on the timber. “Sometimes, it is not easy to find a designer who can share the same perspective as you, but I am glad that our communication has always been transparent and joyful.”
A deep, jade green is the dominant colour across the apartment, while burgundy reds and burnt browns permeate throughout, breaking up the space with personality and flair. The red-brick wall in the kitchen adds a rustic feel, reminiscent of a farmhouse-kitchen. Meanwhile, the burgundy marble across the bathroom adds a refined elegance to the space. In fact, Lucas explicitly requested that red be present throughout, for better feng shui. “In the very beginning, I was a little bit concerned that the overused red colour will become too strong and dazzling. But when you see the red marble in the bathroom, it is quite stunning indeed”.
The open kitchen is host to Lucas’ wine and whisky collection, leading to a cosy banquette dining area that has been neatly partitioned off. “I really love inviting my family and friends over the weekend, and especially in times of COVID, a home becomes the only place for small gatherings. I really appreciated that JJ designed a lovely and cosy dining area for us and I am sure the banquette is going to become a favourite ‘social corner’”. Perched opposite the banquette is a portrait of Lucas, painted by award-winning figurative portrait artist Brendan Fitzpatrick. “Compared to photography, I always think a portrait is like a storybook. It can express more complex feelings of one’s character.”
Seeing both his home and Coffeelin come to life was what Lucas described as “a dream come true”. The space is the embodiment of modern nostalgia, with sleek marble accents and chic lighting fixtures juxtaposed with red-brick finishing, rattan accents and a plush green sofa that echoes the signature green of Coffeelin’s storefront. And the restaurateur isn’t slowing down anytime soon – next up is Wanchai, where he will launch a quick and convenient “Coffeelin Espresso Bar” in November, while other flagship and pop-up locations are also very much in Lucas’ sights.