Pearl Lam talks personal taste: Part One

Pearl Lam’s Shanghai and Hong Kong galleries bridge the gap between Chinese and European contemporary art and design. Her new space in Singapore opens in November

Pearl Lam at her London apartment
Pearl Lam at her London apartment | Image: Shamil Tanna

My personal style signifiers are chunky bracelets and my purple hair. I have a large collection of bracelets; one favourite is made from hand-carved ebony beads used in Buddhist prayer, with a diamond clip holding a hand-sculpted jade monkey. My hair and bracelets play a key role in making me appear larger than I am – I’m actually quite petite. Lotus Arts ebony-bead bracelet, £1,575;

Lotus Arts ebony and jade bracelet, £1,575
Lotus Arts ebony and jade bracelet, £1,575

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of Mary Ching cashmere slippers. They’re beautifully made – soft and stylish – and are perfect for lounging around in at home, bringing peace to my feet after a long day pounding around galleries and artists’ studios in high heels. Mary Ching is the Christian Louboutin of China and I’m also a great fan of her evening shoes, which I love for their vivid colours and textures. Slippers, from £150; evening shoes,from £106;


The thing I’m eyeing next is the Tree-trunk bench by Dutch designer Jurgen Bey, whose pieces I love for their playfulness and the way he puts a new twist on familiar materials. He is also concerned with sustainability, which is why you can only order the three cast-bronze chair backs and not the tree trunk itself. He wants you to source that locally. €11,200;

Piecco Pang alligator bag, €1,713
Piecco Pang alligator bag, €1,713

The site that inspires me is Borobudur, a magnificent 9th-century Buddhist temple complex in Java. I like its proximity to Yogyakarta, a centre for Javanese culture, where I meet artists and old friends. I travel there every year. I stay at Amanjiwo, a stunning Amanresorts property designed by the architect Ed Tuttle, where you can admire Borobudur from your private garden.

Jurgen Bey for Droog Tree-trunk bench, €11,200
(chair backs only)
Jurgen Bey for Droog Tree-trunk bench, €11,200 (chair backs only) | Image: Gerard van Hees

The grooming staples I’m never without are Obagi Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte day cream, which works miracles as it gives you brighter and firmer skin, and I always wear Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF15, which provides UV protection and is invisible. Another favourite is Nars Matte Eyeshadow, which glides on smoothly and comes in gorgeous, luminous shades – I like Bali, New York and China Blue. Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF15, £30 for 30ml; Nars Matte Eyeshadow, £17; Obagi Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte day cream, £60.10 for 57g;

Amanjiwo resort, Borobudur, Java
Amanjiwo resort, Borobudur, Java

The best gift I’ve given recently is a handbag by Piecco Pang, a wonderful Hong Kong designer. The bags are made from soft leather in intricate patterns and great colours. They make fabulous presents for my best girlfriends. I buy them online and from Ra in Paris. From €810; Ra, 14 Rue de la Corderie, 75003 Paris (+331-4274 0407;

Obagi Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte day cream, £60.10 for
Obagi Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte day cream, £60.10 for 57g

And the best one I’ve received is a pair of Philippe Le Bac cashmere fingerless gloves that a girlfriend bought for me. From €19;


The last meal that truly impressed me was the thick toasted brioche with three duck‑egg yolks, layered with caviar, at Jean-Georges restaurant in New York. I love caviar and even mix it with Chinese egg noodles at home, but this brioche is really special as it pops and melts in your mouth all at the same time. 1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023 (+1212-299 3900;

An object I would never part with is a Mattia Bonetti lacquered sofa with hand-embroidered silk cushions that’s in my Shanghai penthouse. There are Chinese-newspaper headlines and reminders of a show I curated in Shanghai and Beijing, Awakening: La France Mandarine – the French Influence in Chinese Arts, painted on the sofa frame and embroidered onto the cushions. The sofa is really “me” in its mix of east and west and its celebration of Chinese craftsmanship. It reminds me of the support I received from family and friends during that time.

My favourite websites are the ones for news – Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times – and arts, such as Artforum and Art Share, for which I am on the advisory committee. It features curated, modern and contemporary Asian art shows online.;;;;

See also