Bangkok's Modern Masterpieces
Soi Ekamai in Bangkok is a treasure trove for Midcentury furniture mavens, whether you’re after replicas or the real thing. By JENNIFER CHEN, with reporting by MONSICHA HOONSUWAN
Published on Sep 21, 2010
+ JOE’S BEAUTIFUL OBJECTS
A trained architect, Sangkorn “Joe” Soonthornkasemsuk began by importing authentic pieces from Scandinavia, but later moved into reproductions as originals became scarcer. Located in his 1970’s bungalow, the brightly lit, crammed showroom features skillfully made replicas of designs by such Modernist heavyweights as Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl, two of Joe’s design heroes. Every item is customizable; there’s dozens of swatches to choose from, but make sure to ask Joe about the retro fabrics that he buys off eBay. The showroom is only open in the afternoons, so best to call before you make the trek.
284/2 Ekamai 18, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand; +66 2 711 5780; firstname.lastname@example.org; shipping available
Looking for the real thing? This packed-to-the-gills retro emporium is the place. Owner Pramet Srithongkul developed an affinity towards streamlined Scandinavian design during stopovers in Copenhagen while working for Thai Airways. “They use a lot of teakwood—maybe that reminded me of Thailand,” he says. Pramet sources original pieces by Midcentury masters from auctions held in Europe; printouts of his recent acquisitions are taped on the wall by the door for reference. A self-taught furniture expert, he’s happy to consult one of his many design books—retro finds themselves—to tell you a piece’s exact provenance. Take your time to comb through the jumble: patient, eagle-eyed shoppers will be rewarded with vintage crocodile bags and rare 1960’s ceramics from Denmark. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, Pramet can direct you to his warehouse, about 15 kilometers away on Ram Intra Road. Before you go, flip through the photo albums cataloging his inventory. Upstairs is a bar popular with the neighborhood’s bright young things, should you need a stiff drink before dropping Bt40,000 on a genuine Wegner chair.
24 Ekamai Soi 21, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand; +66 2 711 5629; shipping available
+ HAWAII FIVE-O
Kitty-cornered from Y50, this plain-looking store churns out well-made replicas at reasonable prices; chairs run between Bt6,000 to Bt18,000. Owner and antique enthusiast Satit Thammapapkul has filled the store with originals by the likes of George Nelson and Eero Saarinen; customers are encouraged to test out chairs before making a decision.
34 Ekamai 21, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand; +66 2 711 6415; hawaii50bkk.com; shipping available