A couple of floors up a steep and narrow staircase in an apartment building in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, I find the home of Eyal Cohen. The house is what the Chinese call a ‘walk-up’, a building from the 50-60s with no elevator. The first thing I see as I step inside is a bright and colourful wall made of – egg cartons. It’s a cheering and welcoming sight and a real work of art.
His apartment is fairly spacious for Hong Kong, 575 square feet* and consists of one large room, a kitchen and a bathroom. It’s furnished and decorated by himself and filled with fun and eye-catching things. One wall has an image of a large ostrich with a hat. A full-scale sheep with blue wool is standing on top of a bookshelf. Origami squirrels are playing on a tree trunk on the floor. This is a home whose owner clearly has had a lot of fun whilst decorating it and I’m eager to hear the story behind it.
“Rental apartments here in Hong Kong are usually small and furnished,” he tells me. “Since I always have lived in furnished apartments that are purely functional, I was happy to find that this one was empty. Because this meant that I could create a place that resonates more with myself. A place I could put my heart into. I loved the tiled floors with the industrial imperfect feeling. They manufactured shoes here at one time.”
“Tell me about your ideas about furnishing and decorating your home?”
“This is a large room and I wanted to have a secluded space as a bedroom and I needed storage for my clothes. I came up with the solution to create a wall with cupboards to make a bedroom on one side and have a hallway on the other side. Then I went to the market and picked up egg cartons and covered the entire back of the cupboards with them. As I love colour I painted them with acrylic paint in different hues and added lighting on the top to enhance the effect. As I wanted to somewhat obscure the bed, I positioned a bookshelf as a fourth wall and this made the bedroom semi secluded.”
“I make it up as I go along,” he says. “Take the boxes on the wall. Since I like wine, I had these empty wine boxes and I started to think what I could do with them. I like to collect small things that I call ‘cutesy-stuff’. Some of them go back to my childhood. And especially since going to Japan for many years, with all their cute and cool small things they have there, I have a collection of cutesy-stuff. So I decorated the wine boxes with these, each with it’s own story. One is about my grandparents. My granddad was obsessed with cars. Another one has my parents in it. It’s just for fun, recreating a memory of happy times.”
This is an excerpt from the book Home Life Around the World and is one of the personal homes I visited on my travels.
Release date 15th May.
Home Life Around the World is available for pre-order in iBooks store, Kobo and Google Play. ISBN 978-91-984455-1-0
The book is also available for pre-order in the Kindle format at Amazon. ASIN: B079VDPBVF
Print edition ISBN 978-91-984455-0-3
Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer