Launched in 2016, HBX Archives has become a go-to place for sourcing unique pieces from the fashion and streetwear world. From brands like Gucci to sacai and Burberry, we often ponder the stories these sought-after items were once attached to.
As a nod to their past, Artifacts seeks to document the memories behind a collector's prized possession --- or as many call it, their grail. For the first installment, we talk to Ambrose Leung, who not only is well-versed in rare finds but has a penchant for the past.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ambrose, and I work on the editorial team at Hypebeast.
What is your artifact?
It’s a glass sculpture designed by Philippe Starck and made by CIVE, Italia. It was released celebrating the 1994 expansion of The Peninsula Hong Kong and the FELIX restaurant. It features an uneven bottom that can be rotated at various angles and holds a single faux apple.
When did you get it?
I purchased it a few years back as I thought most of them were long gone, but when I saw it, I knew it was something special.
Why did you get it?
For me, the design challenges the norm, and I love Starck's work. Most fruit bowls hold multiple fruits, but this sculpture reinforces its "art" aspect with a crevice for a single apple that's not even real.
Things like this give me pleasure in having them around the home. Clothing doesn’t quite do it for me anymore. It has almost come to a point where we aren’t wearing clothes for ourselves but more for affirmation. Something like this sculpture can be enjoyed privately.
Have you ever played SIMS? It’s like the Motive chart. You have hunger, social, bladder, etc., and then there’s that one bar for room and environment. This piece recharges that bar for me and gives me a better outlook for the day.
What’s an important memory attached to it?
This piece is tied to Starck, then the restaurant FELIX, the Peninsula hotel, the city of Hong Kong, my parents, my ancestry… it is like an onion.
Yes, it is just a sculpture, but it has such a historical significance, especially when tied to an iconic hotel. This hotel is a symbol of Hong Kong. The hotel is almost a century old, has survived the Second World War, and has really upheld its quality throughout the years. You can't stay at the hotel often as it's so expensive, but having this "piece" of the hotel is the next best thing.
Being born in Canada, I learned that Canada had a part in the Battle of Hong Kong and that The Royal Rifles served in my home province of New Brunswick. That little bit of information is always a good source of courage as coming from the East Coast, you can feel so far from home in Hong Kong.
Another thing is that the hotel is so East-meets-West and captures that colonial aspect of the city so well. As someone with Chinese parents born abroad, it just adds to the personal and sentimental energy tied to the dish.
Would you sell it and why?
I do have a lot of tchotchkes scattered around the home, and with my growing family, I find myself having to let go of past things to form new memories. I'm learning to let go of things the older I get, so I'm impartial in selling this.
Maybe I’ll list it and see if there’s interest. The thing is, I always want the next owner of my things to be as passionate (if not more) about the items they are buying.
Where did you get it?
Digging has always been a part of life. Prior to the pandemic, I would always pick something up from my travels, but I actually haven't been able to leave the city for quite some time. If you've ever been to HK you will find that the antique and vintage culture has really grown in the last 10 years. A local seller that got it from the hotel launch just had it laying around his apartment and was trying to get rid of it. I am a fan of Starck's work so I knew what he had in possession, and bought it off him right away to make sure it went to a good home.
Whose artifact do you want to see next?
On the topic of HK -- I feel like the city has so much charm and history it would be a shame not to talk about it more often -- I would like to see something from either Juno Mak or Kenji Wong.