Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
Cathay Pacific Airways reopened The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), following an extensive renovation. Measuring 2,061 square metres, the newly opened lounge is located at Gate 63 in the North West concourse of HKIA. With a maximum seating capacity of 231, the new lounge expresses the heartfelt warmth, considered simplicity and contemporary Asian values at the heart of the Cathay Pacific new brand design ethos.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

They say that dreams really do come true for those who work hard and stick it out when the going gets tough… Just like you, I have many dreams, and my dreams only keep growing as I continue on this crazy path that is Yellowtrace. One of my personal dreams was having the chance to meet Ilse Crawford – the woman whom I know so many of you respect and adore. The woman whose work we’ve celebrated here a number of times (I first spoke to you about her in this candid post soon after I started this little corner of the internet). This dream of mine became a reality a couple of weeks ago, in Hong Kong to be exact, courtesy of our lovely friends at Cathay Pacific.

But let’s go back to the beginning. I was flying between Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne delivering our Milantrace talks, when an enquiry came through about a possible trip to Hong Kong with Cathay, regarding a top-secret launch of something that couldn’t really be discussed. I thought nothing of it – in fact – I immediately put it in the too-hard basket – I mean, why would we fly all the way to Hong Kong for the launch of “something” designed by “someone”, when there is so much other stuff we have on our plate? However, my mind was changed in a heartbeat after Nick received a follow up phone-call, where more details were revealed. Cathay Pacific offered to fly us to Hong Kong for the launch of “something top secret that simply couldn’t be discussed”, however they were able to share with us that the designer was, errr…. Studioilse, the London-based design studio led by Ilse Crawford. Say WHAT? I’m IN! I don’t care what it is, because I KNOW it’s going to be incredible, and worth flying over to Honkers to experience first hand. Add to this the fact that we were one of only two Australian media outlets (and one of the very, very few international media) being flown over for the event, and Cathay got themselves a deal baby!

 

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
The walnut and onyx horseshoe-shaped bar is the centrepiece and a theatrical focus for visitors to relax and enjoy a drink alone or together.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
Isle Crawford addressing the press during the Cathay Pacific’s First class lounge launch.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
Isle Crawford of Studioilse and Toby Smith, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager of Product.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
The Library is a comfortable and quiet place for reading and relaxing.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

 

And so we went, in true style I might add. Cathay’s flight in the pointy end of the plane was an unforgettable experience in itself, and I fear we have now been spoiled for life. Alas, you can only imagine my excitement when I eventually discovered that we were in fact attending the launch of The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. I literally squealed with excitement before we even reached our destination. My heart was racing and, although the expectations were sky high, I was not disappointed. Far from it!

The press conference was an interesting experience in itself – not something I am personally accustomed to, however Nick and I were incredibly lucky that we were assigned in a group that was lead through the entire space by Ilse herself, along with Cathay’s General Manager of Product, Toby Smith. Jackpot!

 

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

As an additional sensory experience of Cathay Pacific’s brand character, The Pier First Class Lounge is the first Cathay Pacific lounge to feature the airline’s bespoke fragrance. The four key pillars of Cathay Pacific’s new brand ethos – contemporary Asian, heartfelt warmth, considered simplicity, and the joy of discovery – have been assimilated into the creation of our signature scent which is a soothing blend of lavender, bamboo, green tea, jasmine etc. In using an iconic scent, the arrival at a Cathay Pacific Lounge is instantly recognisable and the passenger can relax in a familiar feeling of a comfortable home.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Oh hi there. Yes, that’s me chatting to Ilse Crawford for the very first time… and dying a little from happiness, I might add. Isle was warm, personable and incredibly articulate. Having had this chat with her, I now love and respect her even more, if that’s at all possible.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

As for the interior, I mean… What can I say? It’s simply heaven. The lounge expresses the heartfelt warmth, considered simplicity and contemporary Asian values at the heart of the Cathay Pacific new brand design ethos. The concept of a contemporary apartment is used as a framework for all elements of the design of the lounge. This is reflected in the choice of materials, furniture, and lighting; the same considered approach has been taken with the selection of food, music and art, all of which have been curated to feel coherent and support the idea of the lounge being an apartment that visitors are guests in.

The recognisable and hard to explain “Ilse’s magic touch” is evident in many aspects of the design. Warm, tactile and timeless materials such as onyx, limestone, and bronze are used throughout; acoustics are softened where possible and a considered approach has been adopted in the lighting. The abundance of plants supplements the lounge with a dose of nature and offers a healthy environment for the passengers. Contemporary Asian touches are tangible in the lounge’s green onyx walls (in a honed finish – they look delicious and smooth like wasabi butter!), as well as the walnut and bronze screens.

 

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Wellbeing is the core focus of The Pier First Class Lounge as a reflection of the company’s value of contemporary luxury. Complimentary foot massage is introduced for the first time in Cathay Pacific lounges to cater for passengers’ physical and emotional needs during travelling. In addition to the massage, the Retreat area consists of Day Suites and Showers. The Pier is fitted with a total of eight suites, each furnished with a comfortable daybed, a reading light, a mirror, and heavy curtains for added personal privacy. The adjustable lighting and blinds allow passengers to control the comfort of their own environment. Wrapped in walnut and with a view over the runway, the Day Suites make for a perfect area for a spell of soothing relaxation before boarding.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

The 14 Showers are furnished with natural limestone and timber, which provide a calm, relaxing and private sanctuary for passengers to unwind before their journeys.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

At the Pantry, passengers can enjoy grab and go delicacies with items changing throughout the day. A wide selection of wines and cocktails are also available at the full-service Bar.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

The Bureau feels like a home office environment with six iMac computers in private walnut-lined work booths, featuring classic desk chairs and beautiful table lamps.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

 

My eyes were scanning every single element in the space and taking in the beauty of all the details – from the furniture and lighting choices, featuring the likes of J.L. Møller, Fredericia, Azucena, Kalmar, Roll & Hill and Michael Anastassiades, to all the little details, like the refined balustrades and handrails, sophisticated signage in polished brass sitting against honed onyx walls, the beautiful finish of timber joinery and ceilings/ wall panelling… In truth, the list is endless.

But it’s not just the design of the interior that makes this place so special. The lounge is run by iconic luxury hotel group The Peninsula, with an all-day dining room serving five star a la-carte meals by Peninsula chefs. The bar is stocked with a brilliant selection of spirits, champagne and wine, with cool tunes playing in the background. You can relax with a 20 minute foot massage courtesy of Gentlemen’s Tonic from London, freshen up in a well-appointed shower suite with Aesop amenities, or have a nap in one of eight ‘day suites’…

 

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
With a greater focus on food and beverages, The Pier First Class Lounge features the Dining Room – a warm and handsome room with à la carte dining for 100 people at a time. The Dining Room offers table service with freshly prepared dishes made-to-order by the chef.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
The acoustic walnut ceiling softens the sound within the dining room. The dark leather banquettes with table lamps as additional division look super smart. Passangers can also sit at the brass-topped onyx bar for a wide selection of drinks.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace
Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, YellowtraceCathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse | Photo by Nick Hughes, Yellowtrace

 

So after all this, are you wondering what my personal highlight was? Chatting to Ilse, of course! I managed to have her all to myself for a little while, and she was just so wonderful. She is as warm, personable and divine as her work is, and I feel so lucky to have met her. Finally! We spoke about the challenges that a space like this presents for a designer – how one goes about making something that’s ultimately an institutional interior that has to work very hard and be practical, feel warm and personal. Not an easy task in the slightest. We also chatted about some of the furniture and lighting choices in the space, and how none of it felt like a fleet of contract furniture. Thank God! I reminisced about my visit to J.L. Møller factory last year in Denmark, and some other experiences I’ve had with a number of the brands in the space, and how pleased I was to see them adding a piece of their own lovely story to this beautiful interior. Ilse said that she is very keen to spend the money with the brands she believed in – those that not only create wonderful specialist products, but also have their own story to tell, perfectly aligning themselves with the philosophy of Studioilse, and the ethos of this lounge.

I know that many designers and companies claim these sorts of things, but very few are able to deliver on them with utmost authenticity. As someone who has had an insight into the work of many of these brands, to the heartfelt work of Ilse Crawford and Studioilse (do you remember this post?), not to mention our personal experience with Cathay Pacific in many aspects of their amazing brand, I can happily report that this superstar team just nailed it. The Pier First Class Lounge redefines the idea of luxury travel and sets a new benchmark for international airport lounges. Team Yellowtrace was super impressed, especially as we had the chance to experience the space as “regular customers” during our return trip back to Sydney. I’m still thinking about those Eggs Benedict and that foot massage… Mmmmmm.

 

 

The Pier First Class Lounge is open to First Class passengers, Diamond Marco Polo Club members, and Emerald oneworld members who are departing or transiting in Hong Kong. For flights to Hong Kong, visit cathaypacific.com.au

Team Yellowtrace were guests of Cathay Pacific during our trip to Hong Kong. All related thoughts, ideas and text in this post reflect our genuine opinion.

 

 


[Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Nick Hughes, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Interior Design, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places.

11 Responses

  1. David Flynn

    Great write-up and pics, but “the fact that we were the only Australian media… being flown over for the event” isn’t at all correct, as Australian Business Traveller (of which I’m the editor) was also there. That aside: isn’t Ilse amazing to chat with, and once you walk around the lounge can’t you see everything she says about her philosophy for The Pier coming to life? :)

    Reply
    • Dana Tomić Hughes
      Dana Tomić Hughes

      Thanks for dropping by David. I hadn’t realised you were there as well. It looks like we may have been misinformed – my apologies. And yes, Ilse is the best, and also incredibly good at articulating her thoughts.

      Reply
  2. Michele Kearney

    Great Article, thank you. Had the opportunity to hear And meet Ilse Crawford at the Stockholm Furniture Fair this year, she was fantastic.

    Reply
    • Dana Tomić Hughes
      Dana Tomić Hughes

      Thank you Michele. How fantastic you got to meet Ilse during the Stockholm Fair. I so wanted to go Stockholm this year because she was the guest of honour!

      Reply
  3. Leonie Hart

    What a great opportunity, well done you! Such a beautifully executed space, StudioIlse are exceptional.

    Reply

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