Luxury Drawn From Design

Traversing time zones and cultural barriers, UHNW homeowners around the world share consistent ­interests, tastes, and definitions of luxury ­centered around bespoke

Over the past 50 years, the definition of luxury has changed. Initially, definitions of luxury in the United States and the rest of the world emphasized overt ostentatiousness. Classical, Baroque design styles and blatant branding predominated spaces. However, over the past decade or so, the idea of brand in design has moved from omnipotence to understatement. Even in China, where previously lavish branding reigned supreme, a new paradigm has appeared that focuses on uniqueness, provenance, craft, and creation. This shift has also ushered in contemporary design which seeks to meld international style and qualities of the locale as well as referencing the culture of the past. These trends translate into subtlety and a demand for the simple. 

A sitting room in an HBA Residential designed Beijing apartment

HBA Residential, the residential interior design division of HBA, holds the design philosophy that can be summed up as “Luxury Through Design.” This ethos maintains the process of design that creates luxury, instead of purchasing it, through application of a style. A luxury home is about qualities of space and light, material, and detail. These aspects add value, depth, and permanence to beauty. “Luxury Through Design” means understanding that each client defines luxury differently and translating that definition into a tailored, personal space, not found in a stylebook. 

It’s less about being ostentatious and more about having something bespoke, in the best sense of the word, conceived and crafted just for you.

In Mumbai, India, HBA Residential used a well-placed figurative sculpture to underscore the physical boundary where the 44,000-sq.-ft., nine-story house functionally splits in two. The front of the house is its public side, intended for parties and entertaining, while the rear, which faces the sea, represents its private side, a respite for the family that owns it. The home’s front also features jali screens that have been given a modern update and pressed into service as privacy partitions, as well as a canopy of thin-stemmed stainless-steel “trees” that greet arriving visitors.

This home is one of many HBA Residential projects that are nearing completion, with others in China, Russia, Hong Kong, and Bali. Many of these homes reflect the trend toward rooms and settings that would fit equally well in a boutique hotel. The desire to blur the lines between hospitality and residential spaces is built into the lifestyles UHNW individuals lead. Most have multiple homes around the world and spend a short time in each while also spending time in hotels around the world, which we believe has had an impact, consciously or not.


Spaces that would suit a boutique hotel can make pragmatic sense in a private home. The entrance of a Delhi villa opens directly into the residence—no hallways or other transitional areas—making the first impression a lobby-like space. HBA Residential is handling the interior design of the 2,000-sq.-ft., two-story home, working within the pavilion-style architecture and the limited palette of grays, dark browns, and blacks that the client favors. The chandeliers provide an aesthetic element that carries through several spaces. Bronze expands the neutral color scheme, adding subtle hints of luster throughout. A particularly clever use of the metallic shade is in the dining room, which features bronze mesh fabric sandwiched between sheets of glass.

A unique aspect of the luxury design market is working with manufacturers whose sole purpose is to create something never before seen. Everyday materials juxtaposed with metal finishes on acrylic, poured resin, and marble slabs become art unto themselves. It’s the expression of a material’s inherent beauty re-appropriated in a playful way to elicit a design that can be viewed as a beautiful response. 

FARMHOUSE VILLA DELHI, INDIA – koi pond in the courtyard

There’s general movement toward “less is slightly more,” a reasoned luxury which aligns with the HBA Residential philosophy and its highly personal way of working. It’s less about being ostentatious and more about having something bespoke, in the best sense of the word, conceived and crafted just for you. This focus on individuality and functionality is especially exciting with the upcoming HBA Residential expansion into New York City—the firm’s first mark in the Western hemisphere, with offices already in London and Singapore.