Fashion designer Monki is known for the vibrant image of its apparel and the bustling energy of its chic in-store experience. So when executives with the global H&M group saw rough and aged concrete at two of its shops in cosmopolitan Hong Kong, they realized they needed help updating the facilities to better convey the brand’s colorful and youthful image.
Given the high stakes, the fashion house needed someone it could trust to get the job done correctly and quickly, thus allowing it to capitalize on the revamped look as soon as possible. But considering Hong Kong’s relative small size, local options weren’t abundant.
That’s where Kwong Man Kee Engineering Ltd. (KMK) comes in. KMK is the only coating or painting contractor publicly listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and that credibility helped project officials believe they were the right fit for the jobs.
“There were very tight time constraints,” recalled Jason Yip, KMK’s general manager. “The client wanted to open up the shop ASAP. It was critical that the tight installation deadline was met, as the high rental rates and the fact that other trades had to be accommodated meant that no aspect of the store fit-out could overrun.”
So with a high sense of urgency, eight workers from KMK traveled to the Monki sites at Causeway Bay Windsor House and Langham Place in Hong Kong to freshen up their looks. Each ~2,000-square-foot (185.8 m2) shop expected completion within one working week, or five days.
Shopping for the Right Look
While the selection of coatings contractor was one part of the equation, another was selecting the appropriate system from a coatings manufacturer to apply.
“The fashion label’s interior designer chose two tailor-made styles for the stores, a glittering gold and a sleek, dappled silver and black,” said Yip. “The systems were applied next to each other across the retail outlet’s floor to create contrasting blocks of color.”
Curving lines were used to separate the colors, thereby creating both an interesting aesthetic effect and also serving the practical purpose of marking out different areas of the store. The glossy, light, and dark-patterned silver coating would be installed in the entrance and changing room areas, while the majority of the shops’ floors was coated in a solid swathe of gold.
A two-part system from Flowcrete was chosen for the coating, including the fast-drying floor screed Isocrete 1500 and the epoxy resin floor finish Flowflake Kristalina. The Isocrete 1500 is described by the manufacturer as a polymer-modified, cementitious, single-component surfacing compound designed for use on new or worn concrete substrates, while the Kristalina is characterized as a sparkling, seamless, and smooth epoxy floor system designed to shimmer underneath foot traffic in commercial settings.
“This system was specified thanks to its aesthetics, versatile design potential, and its ability to provide the functionality required within a busy commercial environment,” said Francis Tang, general manager of Flowcrete Hong Kong. KMK is the coating manufacturer’s approved applicator for the Hong Kong area.
Making a List, and Checking It Twice!
Before the two coating products could be applied, both safety and environmental concerns needed to be addressed. Since the scope of the indoor project was to resurface the floor only, this limited some of the safety considerations, but certainly not all.
For surface preparation work such as grinding, standard personal protective equipment (PPE) was to be worn, including ear muffs, masks, goggles, gloves, and safety boots. Then, for mixing materials during the new application, PPE consisted of the same gear but without the ear muffs. All PPE items were locally purchased, with some manufactured by 3M, Yip recalled.
Since both shops were located inside of shopping malls, the largest environmental concerns were dust and smells, while excessive noise also posed the potential of disrupting the experience for shoppers in other stores. This played into the selection of the Flowcrete system, which is low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and designed for fast-track application. Dust collection attachments were used during grinding works to control any generated dust, and grinding was performed during nighttime hours to minimize noise disruptions.
Going for Gold
Wearing PPE and with a plan in place suitable for shopping malls, the crew began work at each site by using European-branded grinders to remove the laitance and uneven surfaces.
With the surface prepared, crew members then applied the Isocrete 1500 floor screed via hand trowel at 8 to 10 mm (0.3‒0.4 inches) of thickness while allowing each section one or two days to cure. After curing, the Flowflake Kristalina was also trowel-applied at an average of 2 mm (0.1 inch) of thickness.
Crew members alternated between the roles of applying, mixing, handling equipment, and safety monitoring, thus ensuring that all workers were in the loop on the various aspects of the project and how it came together. “They were working as a team and not specifically focused on who is doing which part,” Yip said. “Sometimes they take turns in each role, just to keep things smooth to finish up the job.”
With the Kristalina topcoat, which includes embedded flakes for a decorative effect, the crew used different colors — with gold for the majority of the shop itself, and silver and black for the entrance and changing room areas.
“This design created a luxurious aesthetic that would serve as the ideal backdrop for Monki’s eclectic and lively line of high-end fashion,” Tang said. “The bespoke look and attention to detail would reinforce the store’s identity for existing customers, while ensuring that new customers leave with a great first impression.”
According to the manufacturer, the hardwearing nature of the Kristalina coating avoids scratches, scuffs, and stains, thus ensuring that the floor retains an unblemished appearance over the long haul despite the inevitable heavy foot traffic, impacts, and spillages from the commercial setting.
The sparkling topcoat cured within two days. In all, both facilities were completed and ready for foot traffic within the specified one-week timeframe, and Monki was thus able to re-open both shops on schedule.
“The flooring system gives a glamorous feature to welcome their customers,” Yip said.
“Thanks to the applicability of the products and the expertise of the approved applicator, the floor was ready on time for the unveiling of Monki’s new stores,” Tang added.
Ultimately, good teamwork between the coatings manufacturer and approved applicator led to a seamless, tailored solution for the fashionable client. In this Olympic year, Monki can now boast both gold and silver!