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That Girl: Candace Campos, interior designer & founder of ID

This week’s That Girl is designer and creative powerhouse Candace Campos, founder of ID Interiors & Identity Design.

We’re in love with Candace’s awesome apartment and amazing design skills (so much so, we even got her to design our very own Sassy Hong Kong logo!), so we couldn’t wait to find out where she gets her ideas and inspiration, her most memorable design projects (including the interiors for Heirloom and MANA) and her top tips for making the most of HK’s small living spaces… plus take a peek around her pad!

Can you tell us more about your background and how you ended up in Hong Kong? What made you want to stay here?
Working as a Creative Director, I travelled to Hong Kong and China on product development trips. I got to know the city and eventually transitioned my life here. I started my business ID and now it’s my home. There’s a lot of growth and opportunity in Hong Kong you can’t find elsewhere.

Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
I live in Sheung Wan. I love the neighbourhood. It still has a charming mix of old and new. The buildings aren’t too high, so you can find great old walk-ups.  I remodelled my space four years ago and made a home I still love today.

How do you describe your personal style? How does it evolve and change?
During the day… simple, minimal, easy and something I can dust off (I spend most of my time on construction sites so I get quite dirty).  I love fall clothes like boots, tights and coats, but we don’t get to wear them that often in Hong Kong!  And jewellery, I love layering jewellery.

Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
When I have visitors, I take them to the fashion wholesale mart in Lai Chi Kok. It’s work digging through all the stalls but you find some fun pieces.

What are your must-have beauty products? Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
I’m quite low maintenance when it comes to beauty. But I love anything from Ilia, an organic make-up line a friend of mine started. I’m also a massage addict and get two a week!

What is your favourite thing to do at the weekend?
Lazy mornings, drinking coffee, being spontaneous – that’s my dream weekend but it rarely happens!

What is your favourite restaurant in Hong Kong?
My life is quite influenced by aesthetics. Environment is an important part of my dining experience. I think Yardbird does it right across the board – it’s a slice of home. I love Classified in Sheung Wan for their street-side seating and Linguini Fini because their friendly service goes above and beyond. Unar Coffee in Tai Hang is adorable and I hope to see more independent coffee shops like them in Hong Kong. My good friends just opened Restoration – it’s a great place to go for home-cooked comfort food. The new bakery Po’s Atelier is gorgeous – I wish I had thought of it! It’s inspiring to see food presented in new ways.

What is your favourite place in Hong Kong?
The bridge over the Tai Tam Reservoir.

What inspired you to start your own business, ID?
My parents both own their own businesses so I grew up with that as the norm. I can’t imagine it any other way.

How do you keep your creative juices flowing? Are there any particular places you go or things you do to get ideas and seek inspiration?
Travel – every time I come back from a trip, I’m inspired to incorporate something I’ve seen into my work.

The Wapping Project in London is amazing; it’s an old hydraulic powerhouse converted into a dining and installation space and they use a glasshouse as a library in the front garden. The space is all about the unexpected. Freemans in NYC is one of my favourite dining experiences. It’s set at the back of a small alleyway; you walk under twinkly lights and into a colonial tavern filled with taxidermy – you really are transported.

Melbourne has some of the best bars and restaurants in the world. They really up the mark… design, food and service. Last month, I spent a week in Copenhagen; every spot was so charming, rustic and so integrated into the city’s setting.

Where are your top places for picking up cool interior pieces?
Most of the furnishings I use are custom or imported. I love lighting; right now, I’m a huge fan of Lindsey Adelman, a lighting designer in Brooklyn. Her pieces are a wonderful mix of organic and polished industrial. Michael Anastassiades is really amazing – his lighting belongs in galleries.

Can you tell us more about the process behind designing an interior – do you start with ideas or do you see pieces/spaces and then design around them?
I start with a space. The usage, the floor plan, light patterns and materials all dictate the design. Residential is very different from F&B; with a restaurant, you have a concrete concept and everything you design needs to stem from that initial idea and the space tells a cohesive story. With a home, the design isn’t usually as directed. It’s a more personal process for the clients so choices they make usually take on tangents.

You recently designed the interiors for some of HK’s coolest eateries – Heirloom, MANA and TATE. Can you tell us more about the ideas behind their designs?
All are very different spaces for a very different dining experience. Heirloom was meant to be cosy and eclectic, a space that feels like someone’s home – the menu reflects that and so does the interior. MANA is all about recycling, upcycling and eco-consciousness, so our material choice governed the design. We wanted to bring the outdoors in and give it a very earthy feeling. TATE is fine dining with a bit of whimsy. The open kitchen is a big feature; each plate is prepared with so much care and you can see that from every seat.

What are some of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on and why? Tell us a bit more about them.
I love my residential clients that are willing to experiment. Last year, I was crazy about plywood, which is usually not a finishing material, but I love its rawness so we used it in some wall panelling in a client’s home… and it turned out great! This month, I’m all about Danish detailing and concrete. Next month, who knows! It’s always changing.

Have any of your designs sounded great in your head but ended up not working how you envisaged in real life… or vice versa?
It’s my job to ensure that doesn’t happen. I have to sell my vision to my client and communicate it to my contractor. If the end result doesn’t match, then I haven’t done my job well! At TATE, my client wanted to turn a bicycle into a display case. The idea was different, but it came together and we all loved the end result.

Any top tips for saving space in cramped HK apartments?
Open empty space is rare in Hong Kong. To keep your space clutter free, you need to be a discerning customer – don’t buy things that you don’t absolutely love or need. Large built-in cabinetry can cramp your space so instead think of unique ways to incorporate decorative storage; I have a collection of vintage suitcases that I use to rotate my seasonal wardrobe.

Do you have any advice for any other budding entrepreneurs out there?
Do what you love and work hard. There is always space in the market for someone who’s passionate.

All photos in the That Girl article above were taken by the hugely talented Sabrina Sikora of Sabrina Sikora Photography – get in touch with her at sabrinasikora@gmail.com.

Check out the rest of our That Girls here!

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