Project of the Week

The Imperfect Residence by NC Design & Architecture

Read time 4 minutes

  • Design House: NC Design & Architecture
  • Project Name: The Imperfect Residence
  • Location: Hong Kong
  • 157m²

Nelson Chow - head NC Design & Architecture (NCDA) - was recently asked to design the new Hong Kong home of some lifelong friends. They gave him complete freedom with only three provisos: it should look beautiful, be functional and age well.

Using a Japanese-inspired, wabi sabi style, he covered all their demands, creating a homely oasis amidst the bustling city.

Take a quick tour of the project below.


The ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi inspired this project from the ground up.

The philosophy is known for it's ability to embrace beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.


Throughout this scheme, NCDA harnessed traditional wabi sabi attitudes, sympathetically translating them into a contemporary aesthetic that mixes bold geometries with materials in their natural unfinished state.

On a psychological level, the design relaxes the occupants and feels like an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.

Wood and marble play an integral role within the scheme. Both materials have a natural finish and set a tone for relaxation and tranquility.

In some areas - including the living room - the flooring actually combines the two materials, scattering geometric marble slabs within the wooden panelling. This unusual element encourages a deviation from normal, everyday design.


Oxidised bronze and textured plaster finishes are also used throughout the apartment. Both of these tectures nod to the wabi sabi ideas of imperfection and incompleteness.

As Nelson Chow expresses, the exposure to this idea is designed to help "set the residents free from the everyday."


Ensuring these elements of visual interest do not overpower the scheme, the design studio kept accessories as modest as possible.

Storage units are concealed behind the room's walls, while the television and a doorway are hidden by plaster panels.

A couple of marble slabs are also used to cleverly hide the apartments sound system.


Bold, experimental yet homely and calm; in total this scheme offers a perfect example of 'imperfect' Japanese living.

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