10 Questions With… Steve Leung and His Son, Nicholas

Discover the fascinating story behind the Leung family's holiday home, One of a Kind (Ooak), on Lamma Island and their prestigious private members club, Club C+, in downtown Hong Kong. In an exclusive interview, Interior...

Discover the fascinating story behind the Leung family's holiday home, One of a Kind (Ooak), on Lamma Island and their prestigious private members club, Club C+, in downtown Hong Kong. In an exclusive interview, Interior Design sits down with Steve Leung and his son, Nicholas, to delve into their shared passion for design, hospitality, and creating unforgettable experiences.

A Design Conversation With Steve Leung and His Son

Nicholas Leung at Club C+ in a black blazer, black pants and white sneakers. Nicholas Leung at Club C+.

Interior Design: What makes the Lamma site so special for your family?

Steve Leung: A friend recommended a pair of village houses on Lamma Island, and I instantly fell in love with the privacy and breathtaking sea views that make it feel like a hidden gem. It's a perfect getaway just minutes away from Hong Kong island.

Stefanie, my daughter, had the dream of becoming a chef, and I wanted to support her passion. So I gifted OoaK to her as a beautiful family home where she can run her private kitchen. It's a place where she can showcase her culinary skills influenced by Chinese culture, creating an extraordinary dining experience for our guests.

Nicholas Leung: OoaK reminds me of a memorable holiday we had in Rose Bay near Sydney. We flew to a restaurant by seaplane, and that experience has stayed with me. I hope that dining at OoaK becomes a treasured memory for our guests as well.

Twin houses make up OoaK Lamma, with an elevated herb garden connecting the structures Twin houses make up OoaK Lamma, with an elevated herb garden connecting the structures

ID: How does OoaK reflect Stefanie's culinary aspirations?

SL: Stefanie's dishes may not be extravagant, but they are meticulously crafted using a combination of local ingredients and fresh seafood. Her culinary technique has a French influence, combined with a strong connection to Chinese culture. My interior design for OoaK enhances her dishes and creates a harmonious atmosphere. I incorporated reclaimed wood from an old fishing vessel, showcasing its history and adding a touch of authenticity. The house interacts with the surrounding elements of sun, wind, and water, creating a unique experience for our guests.

The Ooak Lamma communal dining table is made from reclaimed wood and finished with smoothly polished resin designed by Steve Leung. The Ooak Lamma communal dining table is made from reclaimed wood and finished with smoothly polished resin

ID: Nicholas, what is your role at OoaK?

NL: While I may not possess Stefanie's culinary skills, I am deeply involved in the hospitality side of the business. I handle operations, marketing, and ensure a seamless experience for our guests. My love for the industry started during my visits to Napa Valley's wineries while studying economics at UCLA. After graduation, I joined my father's hospitality arm, 1957 & Co., and eventually became part of the team that opened OoaK. I now assist with its marketing efforts and enjoy being a part of this journey.

A romantic table set up in the jungle offers a chance to dine under the stars at OoaK Lamma A romantic table set up in the jungle offers a chance to dine under the stars at OoaK Lamma

ID: What is your favorite part of OoaK and why?

SL: One of my favorite aspects is the artwork within the house. We commissioned Marco Szeto to create murals on the feature walls in each bedroom. It's a collaboration where my wife, Anita, who studied painting under Marco, also contributed. The murals bring a sense of depth and panoramic views, creating a captivating atmosphere. Additionally, we have incorporated watercolor paintings by my wife in the corridors, adding a personal touch to the space.

NL: I love how Marco's paintings continue the panoramic views, giving the illusion of a 270-degree perspective. It's a memorable design element that leaves a lasting impression.

An outdoor lounge area at Ooak Lamma face the sea and Deer Island An outdoor lounge area at Ooak Lamma facing the sea and Deer Island

ID: What was your ambition for Club C+?

SL: Club C+ was a heartfelt gift to Nicholas. I wanted to create a space where cigar enthusiasts can indulge in their passion, enjoy excellent food, and engage in meaningful conversations. Most importantly, it's an opportunity for Nicholas to explore the "B" part of F&B—wine, as he has immersed himself in its study for years. I have always felt that Hong Kong lacked comfortable indoor spaces for cigar lovers, where they could enjoy a premium experience. Club C+ fills that gap.

NL: My interest in cigars began with friends, but my father has been my mentor in this field. During the pandemic, we spent time together, smoking cigars and discussing my aspirations. Club C+ became an exciting venture where I could contribute my skills and passion for hospitality.

Refined Cantonese dishes courtesy of executive chef Angus Chan accompany single malt whiskey and fine cigars at Club C+ Refined Cantonese dishes courtesy of executive chef Angus Chan accompany single malt whiskey and fine cigars at Club C+

ID: How is Club C+'s ambience supported by its design and cuisine?

SL: Unlike traditional cigar clubs with English manor aesthetics, we infused Chinese elements into the design while maintaining a contemporary feel. The coffee tables resemble tea trays, and the sliding glass doors feature a moon gate pattern. The space is flexible, allowing rooms to be opened up or closed off based on the need. The Maxalto sofas from B&B Italia, handpicked by me, add elegance and comfort to the club. The cuisine, curated by our chef Angus Chan, showcases Cantonese dishes using seasonal ingredients, such as steamed fish and prawns. We aimed to create a perfect harmony between the design, furnishings, and culinary experience at Club C+.

The salon at Club C+ is outfitted with contemporary wood paneling and Maxalto soft seating by B&B Italia The salon at Club C+ is outfitted with contemporary wood paneling and Maxalto soft seating by B&B Italia

ID: What are some of the challenges and rewards of operating Club C+?

NL: Working with my father has been both challenging and rewarding. Previously, our collaborations were limited, and he wasn't heavily involved in my projects at 1957. But with Club C+, we approached it as father and son, business partners, club members, and designer and operator. We maintained a high level of professionalism to ensure the best outcome for the club. The result has brought us closer together, with increased communication and shared experiences.

SL: We spent more time together than ever before, strengthening our bond and mutual understanding.

Sliding doors featuring a moon gate pattern at Club C+ afford more privacy for a VIP dining room Sliding doors featuring a moon gate pattern at Club C+ afford more privacy for a VIP dining room

ID: Do you envision Club C+ as a companion to OoaK?

SL: Absolutely. While Stefanie remains focused on OoaK and occasionally receives assistance from Nicholas, I hope that she appreciates his efforts at Club C+ and that they can share their respective experiences. The synergy between the two ventures would further enhance our family's projects.

ID: What were your aspirations when you began working together?

SL: I was relieved when neither Stefanie nor Nicholas wanted to study architecture, as I wanted to foster a sense of individuality in their aspirations. They may not be designers, but they share a common base with me—lifestyle. Stefanie is a food architect, and Nicholas is a lifestyle architect. Together, we collaborate on lifestyle projects that bring our passions to life.

View at Club C+ towards salons with cigar tasting room and humidor storage to the right. View at Club C+ towards salons with cigar tasting room and humidor storage to the right

ID: What is your next family project?

SL: Currently, I am working on the interiors of a tailor-made catamaran, a 72-foot luxury vessel designed by a Finnish naval architect. We plan to launch it in 2022 for our family's exclusive use. It's an exciting project, and we hope it sets the stage for future yacht designs. We also have OoaK Niseko, our holiday home in Niseko, which is already a success. We are exploring the expansion of the OoaK and Club C+ brands, considering possibilities in Shanghai and Tokyo.

Embrace the Leung family's journey as they combine their passions for design, hospitality, and creating exceptional experiences. From the serene OoaK Lamma to the refined elegance of Club C+, their projects are a testament to their commitment to excellence and a source of inspiration for all.

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