When one thinks of Hong Kong, the memory of piping hot dim sum, congested pedestrian walkways and antique infrastructure comes to mind. Closely associated with its vernacular, the blaring chatters that never seem to be too far away, also make up the city’s own unique character—one that’s relentlessly fast-paced and strong-willed. And in a place that’s considered one of the world’s most densely-populated, you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find a plethora of landmarks just at your fingertips.
But what seems to be easily overlooked is the city’s proclivity for art—starting with one of its most glittering attractions: K11 Musea. While a shopping mall wouldn’t necessary be the first on the agenda for any art enthusiast, this ten-floor wonder has been established for just that. In a move to make art accessible—a simple desire from its founder and group chairman Adrian Cheng–the retail destination has been dubbed Hong Kong’s “Silicon Valley of Culture”.
And for good reason—with the building standing as an architecture marvel at the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, at Victoria Dockside. An iconic landmark that pioneers culture commerce and champions contemporary Chinese culture. While Tsim Sha Tsui might seem like just another busy district with its central location, it’s an enclave that’s been closely affiliated to the arts since the early 80s and 90s, with landmarks like Culture Centre, Avenue of Stars and Salisbury Garden drawing in droves of locals and tourists.
To first experience the heart and soul of K11 Musea, head to the Opera Theatre—where an amalgamation of artworks and installations come to life. A cosmic vision that comprises cascading aluminium branches to mimic growing roots of a giant tree—with one of the core values of K11 being nature. Another eye-grabbing capture: the Atrium Oculus, where a dome ceiling comes into full view—injecting spheres of light into the main atrium. You’ll also see spherical architecture breathing life in the space, with another art piece titled ‘Gold Ball’, with the same level featuring other art works from local and foreign artists. Many of the art pieces found in K11 Musea, are in fact exhibited by K11 Art Foundation, a non-profit that was founded by Cheng in 2010—to democratise art and spotlight emerging Chinese artistes.
As you wander around the vast premises of K11 Musea, making considered stops at various luxury brands and artisanal coffee shops with the likes of Tokyo’s famed Omotesando Koffee, art can be easily admired all over the property. Like a towering industrial chandelier right at the mall’s entrance, that pays homage to the history of Victoria Dockside, which used to be a railway in 1910—as pipes form an avant-garde chandelier, to take its audience back to the older times. Various crafts like furniture are peppered across the floors, each accompanied with its own excerpt of the artist’s design philosophy.
Part of the first floor is the Muse Edition, which might seem out of place in line with the mall’s design philosophy, however it is a space which preserves original architecture from the past as the Intercontinental Hotel. Notably, the Waffle Ceiling above that was from the 80s, lends a gritty aura to the entire facade, as modern touches like LED lighting panels form the perfect juxtaposition. An escalator up, and you’ll probably find yourself spending way too much time at the MoMa Design Store.
Apart from the convivial art that blends in seamlessly as part of the K11 Musea’s interiors, the place also holds the annual K11 Art Karnival, which is on its third run. This year, with China’s first major exhibition titled ‘City as Studio’—a celebration of graffiti and street art that’s curated by Jeffrey Deitch. Here, you’ll marvel at the history of graffiti—as seen through revolutionary artists from all around the globe, with a guide tour available in various languages.
The art narrative doesn’t just stop at K11 Musea. As part of the collective group, the neighbouring residence K11 Artus, just right next to the mall, sits as another extension as part of Cheng’s efforts to promote the art scene. Within the luxury residence, there are art sculptures and ornate design details planted throughout the property’s hallways and lift lobbies. Even in the suites itself, the warm welcome of a bookshelf stacked with a tight selection of art history books will please any bibliophile. To make up a comfortable stay, the room grants sweeping views of the Victoria Harbour—with its own balcony—chalking up a generous amount of space. A crucial point of consideration, for anyone looking to stay in Hong Kong.
Visit K11 Musea here.