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An Auctioneer’s Information to Hong Kong

An Auctioneer’s Information to Hong Kong

Danielle So, auctioneer and specialist of 20th century & contemporary art at Phillips, shares her favourite spots in the city.

As Hong Kong gears up for this year’s Art Week, who better to give you a helping hand than the most prominent members of the city’s art community.

Danielle So is one of Hong Kong’s most promising auctioneers. Since she was first inducted into auctioneering in 2019, So now heads the evening sale at Philips, where she’s also a specialist in 20th century & contemporary art.

Although raised on the island’s south side, So now lives in Mid-Levels. She shares where to find the best cocktails, where to shop for Hong Kong-style vintage trinkets and the exhibitions she’s most looking forward to this Art Week.

Danielle So

Where in Hong Kong do you call home?

I lived in the south side most of my life but recently moved to Mid-Levels to be in the hustle and bustle of the city. Although I spent a number of years abroad for my studies, I’m born and raised in Hong Kong, and it definitely feels like home.

What characteristics and traits are unique to the people who call Hong Kong home?

Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures and I think Hong Kongers are incredibly resilient, resourceful, determined and entrepreneurial.

How would you describe the energy of Hong Kong during Art Week?

Hong Kong Art Week is electrifying and captivating – we have plenty of like-minded individuals who travel all over the world to be here, so there’s an incredible energy, and the city is buzzing with a flair for art and culture.

What does Philips have planned for this month?

We’re opening our New Now sale; as the title suggests, it focuses on the “new”, with artists challenging boundaries and mediums and of course the “now”, which refers to rising and emerging artistic talents, so we’re very excited!

The sale is taking place on March 29. Prior to the auction, the exhibition at Phillips’ Asia headquarters in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District will be open to the public from March 20-29.  

Guy Yanai, Rayol Without Me (2020) will be sold at the Philips New Now Auction on March 29

What are you most looking forward to this Art Week?

There’s so much to be excited about, but to name a few, I’m most looking forward to the Wifredo Lam retrospective at the Asia Society, the Louise Giovanelli solo show at White Cube and, Supper Club, a new initiative that’s between an alternative art fair and a space to gather.  

An art institution that should be on every Hong Kong visitor’s list?

Tai Kwun is one of my favourite art institutions in Hong Kong, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The galleries connect the new and the old, much like the entire site. It might not be the largest institution, but I always find their programmes to be very well-curated and focused. I really enjoyed the Patricia Piccinini show there last summer.

The JC Contemporary Building at Tai Kuwn designed by Herzog & de Meuron

The best place to eat?

Sang Kee Restaurant in Wan Chai is definitely one of my favourite local food joints, with a flair for Guangdong home cooking. I’m obsessed with their salt-baked chicken, spinefoot fish congee and lotus root cakes, which are my must-orders every time I visit.

And to drink?

My recent go-to is Kinsman on Peel Street. I love their Wong Kar-Wai vibe; they’ve really nailed everything from the interiors to the menu to the cocktails with a Chinese twist. My favourite drink probably has to be the Baijiu Sour.

A new F&B venue you love?

A recent favourite restaurant has to be Leela in Causeway Bay, headed by a dear friend, Chef Manav. His menu is deeply personal and captures the rich gastronomic essence of India’s heritage. And I’ve also been loving Rootdown in Sai Ying Pun for casual brunches and happy hours – their melted cheese is a killer!

Favourite hotel?

It has to be Upper House. There’s a good balance of tranquillity and warmth within the residence and it feels distinctly Asian with a zen vibe. There’s an understated luxury to the house and it provides an oasis of calm within the bustle of Admiralty.

The Wong Kar-Wai-style interiors at Kinsman

Where can I find the best fashion in the city?

I’m a big fan of Mongkok for accessorising and I visit the Fa Yuen Street Market from time to time when I don’t feel like splurging on trends. Hak Dei is another shop I love in the area; it brings out my inner retro lover every time as it’s filled with quirky knick-knacks, from old-style ‘cha chaan teng’ plates to vintage glassware.

How would you describe the style of Hong Kongers?

Hong Kongers have an incredibly diverse style, but I’d say we tend to dress stylishly with a huge range, from understated minimalist to maximalist with bold colours and prints and everything in between.

What’s something a visitor can’t leave without seeing?

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The Central–Mid-Levels escalator, for me, captures the intrinsic nature of Hong Kong as a city that’s constantly on the move, with so much to see left, right, centre and sideways.

What’s the best way to get around Hong Kong?

I love taking the tram, or ‘ding ding,’ as we call it in Cantonese; it’s the best way to really see Hong Kong Island at a leisurely pace and it’s unbelievably cheap! There’s a sense of nostalgia every time I step onto one.

An architecture lover’s heaven?

The interiors at the Indian restaurant Leela in Causeway Bay

I would say the Bank of China tower – it’s what makes our trademark skyline, with its design helmed by none other than I.M. Pei. There’s a great balance of modern architecture and traditional Chinese design, with the inspiration behind the building being the stature of bamboo and the prism-shaped triangular glass walls reflecting with a glow on a clear day.

Your happy place or hidden gem in the city?

It has to be my uncle’s rock house in Shek O; we’ve named it the rock house as it’s quite literally built on several rocks on the cliff side of the Shek O back beach. It’s the perfect place to relax, wind down and be one with nature when it gets too hectic in the city. Unfortunately, my uncle’s rock house is not available to the public, but the back beach at Shek O is also great!

Best view in the city?

The Victoria Harbour by day and night, ideally from the Carlyle & Co. roof, but otherwise, the Rosewood terraces work too. Every time I see the stretch of Hong Kong Island from the Kowloon side, either on a sunny day or a clear evening, I’m in awe and often think to myself that Hong Kong is really beautiful.

What traditions or customs should someone be aware of before visiting Hong Kong?

Hong Kongers live a very fast-paced life and always want to get things done as soon as possible. An example I always give is that when you’re at a local ‘cha chaan teng’ (tea restaurant), you may think you’re getting yelled at by the staff for not ordering quickly enough or taking too long to finish your meal, but that’s just how Hong Kongers are; they pride themselves on efficiency! Don’t take getting yelled at personally; it happens to all of us!

What do you love most about Hong Kong?

I love that Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures, and it’s a city that doesn’t give up. It comes with the energy that anything’s possible, with a vibrant arts and culture scene, and, of course, the array of food that the city has to offer, from street eats to fine dining, and all the nature surrounding the city is incredibly beautiful!

Check out gallerist Lorraine Kiang’s guide to Hong Kong here.

Source: Prestige Online

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