The Library, Showroom For luxury Car Collection, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Owning any kind of car today is questionable. Owning a whole collection of luxury cars even more so. But there is no denying that the cars of the past were much sexier and had more personality than today’s boring line-up with its mind-numbing sameness and boring repetition. There are exceptions, of course, especially at the luxury end, but generally nothing stands out. And yes, we are sure that car enthusiasts can tell the difference between any makes and models even today, but we cannot really get ourselves all that interested in cars. But we do favour preserving, restoring and respecting historic and iconic design and architecture, and that includes cars as well.

So, with all these caveats and explanations, we find The Library car collection space in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district deserving of attention. Designed by the Hong Kong, Paris and Bali-based A Work of Substance the ground and top-floors of the six-storey building convey an ambiance of romance to highlight the the owner’s nostalgic car collection.

The owner of the building wanted the top-floor as his private 6,120 square-foot (620 sq metre) lounge, bar, racing simulator and display space for his eight 1950s cars and memorabilia. The design firm co-founder Maxime Dautresme has said that the client wanted the feel of a living room with his cars around him. The space is also designed for entertaining

Everything oozes bygone motoring elegance, top-level craftmanship and attention to detail. Mid-century modernist teak and leather furnishings are accented by car-inspired details including lighting resembling car headlights, hand-stitched leather armchairs that pay tribute to the Ferrari Dino 246 GT (1969-1974), side tables imitating spark plugs and cabinetry handles channeling the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB (1959-1963) door handles.

The vehicles on display include a Ferrari F40 (1987-1992), Mercedes 300SL Gullwing (1954-1957), Aston Martin DB5 (1963-1965), Pagani Huayra (2011-2018), and a Porsche 911 Carrera RS (1973-1974).

On the ground floor, the security office repeats the aluminum roundness of the classic 1930s Airstream Caravan. Two stainless-steel car elevators, three-metre-diameter ceiling fans and the solid concrete walls create a masculine, industrial feel that is softened by the wood panelling and the car-seat inspired leather seating in the waiting area.


Rio de Janeiro-born, Paris-educated, Maxime Dautresme has a cosmopolitan background that speaks of curiosity and cultural variety. He was born to a private-banker father and a mother who is the daughter of Brazilian painter Cicero Dias and also the goddaughter of Pablo Picasso. Before moving to Hong Kong, Dautresme had lived in Rio, Seoul, Monaco, Paris, Shanghai and Miami. His first project with A Work of Substance was the House of Dancing Water show created by the Cirque du Soleil-famed Franco Dragone in Macau’s City of Dreams

A Work of Substance, founded by Maxime Dautresme and Florian Michaux in 2002 in Paris, is a multidisciplinary practice covering architecture, landscape, interior and product design as well as branding from strategy to identity, packaging, digital and marketing. The firm’s team represents 15 countries. Tuija Seipell

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