Name: JJ Acuna
Location: Hong Kong
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years Lived In: 1 year, renting
"I love all my chairs. I'm a chair person, and all my chairs have a story," interior designer JJ Acuna tells me as he shows me around his place. This part-working, part-sleeping studio is indeed home to many beautiful chairs that JJ has collected over the years. From the designer chair by Sebastian Herkner to vintage Memphis style chairs by Tonon Italia, to the American Maple chairs that JJ managed to get for free from someone who was moving, his home is full of beautiful chairs that are more than just pieces of furniture.
JJ's favorite, however, is the black rattan chair in the living room, which almost didn't make it to Hong Kong. "Our friends, the rattan furniture manufacturer in Manila, E.Murio, offered me a chair for the studio. It was a one-off sample piece from their R&D department that they didn't end up fabricating for commercial sale. Anyway, there was so much back and forth regarding the procurement of this chair, weeks turned into months, and six months later I still couldn't get the chair back to Hong Kong the official way—because crating, boxing, and shipping from Manila to Hong Kong would have cost triple the price of the chair.
So on a business trip to Manila I ended up packing practically nothing. Called my airline, Cathay Pacific, and they told me that I can carry anything on that is within 2m x 2m volume on my flight, as long as it met my weight requirements. Because I packed nothing, I was able to take this chair, delivered to me with just some bubble wrap, and took the chair with me and checked-in fragile on the flight. Everyone around me in the airport thought it was all pretty funny because here's me with a backpack and a chair basically. So I was able to "ship" the chair myself for free without paying any customs because it was a personal item, which to be honest, didn't really cost that much because it was a friend's rate I was given."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Humanistic and Relaxed.
Inspiration: The daylight the space gathers during the day.
Favorite Element: I love all my chairs. I'm a chair person, and all my chairs have a story. They're not all necessarily designer, but they're unique, special, and mostly handcrafted, and non-commercial.
Biggest Challenge: Creating a space as an interior Designer and architect that I can use as an office space but at the same time entertain clients and guests and sometimes spend the night in when the work hours get a bit long.
What Friends Say: It's a wonderful place to gather, work as a team, and generate new ideas.
Biggest Embarrassment: Not being able to ship the black rattan chair back to Hong Kong from the Philippines so I had to check it in on the flight with me on a business trip.
Proudest DIY: Creating a wonderful art and books wall using the biggest shelves IKEA offers and making my own brass mirrors.
Biggest Indulgence: Investing in wonderful curtains, plus glass and metal partitions to divide the space.
Best Advice: Never clutter, let all the elements breathe, and make use of daylight.
Dream Sources: I don't really have a dream source as all items are generally within my reach if I play it smart. As a designer I tend to get things anywhere at a price point I can afford—I'm just really smart at sourcing and procurement. Even for big name retailers, brands, and distributors—there are always discounts, floor models, sale models, and overstock items on offer. So I never buy retail price. Always ask for a discount, always.
Memphis style chairs — Vintage by Tonon Italia
Black rattan chair — E.MURIO, Inc.
Coffee table — Jamie Hayon for &Tradition
Gray Rug — Sourced in India
Chair — Sebastian Herkner for DEDON
Red pillow — KBEN & HOL
Kilim rug — Sourced in Turkey
Bar cart — Vintage Gio Ponti circa 1950s
Bar mixing set — Pottery Barn and H&M Home
Bar trays — Sourced in the Philippines
Artwork in pink frame — Sylvain Margaine
Antique brass wall sconce — ROANOAK CO.
Green towel — MUJI IDEE
Gold mirror — H&M Home
Brass mirror - designed and handmade by JJ
Chinese medicine cabinet — Handcrafted in Hong Kong
Antique Mexican Galleon pottery — Sourced in the Philippines