BANGKOK DESIGN WEEK 2024, 27 JAN–4 FEB

Revamping Legacy Businesses and Legends of Hua Lamphong by CEA x RTUS-Bangkok

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Revamping Legacy Businesses and Legends of Hua Lamphong District

Through Design and Creativity with CEA x RTUS-Bangkok

 

Hua Lamphong District, famously recognized as the site of a historic train station that has been a part of Bangkok since the reign of King Rama V, has gradually seen its prominence as a gateway to the capital diminish over time with the evolution of the city’s mass transit system.


However, the story of Hua Lamphong is ongoing. Beyond its iconic semi-circular facade, Hua Lamphong Station has hidden gems: restaurants known for their delicious offerings, longstanding businesses that have been passed down through generations, and works of unique craftsmanship that many have yet to discover.


For this year’s Bangkok Design Week, the Creative Economy Agency (CEA) has partnered with ReThink Urban Spaces Bangkok (RTUS-Bangkok), a group of young individuals and local hosts from Hua Lamphong who recognize the area’s significance as a site for ecotourism and education. They are inviting people to explore and get to know the area as more than just the original location of Bangkok’s first railway station — through a variety of activities. One of the activities we would like to highlight is “Made in Hua Lamphong.”


The Hua Lamphong area is full of shops that have been integral to the community for generations, such as old eateries. The district also features unparalleled craftsmanship, an aspect that is often overlooked. The Made in Hua Lamphong project was initiated to shed new light on the district and transform public perceptions of the district, as well as allow venerable businesses to keep pace with the changing times. RTUS-Bangkok selected five creative teams to collaborate with six legacy businesses in Hua Lamphong, adding value to their products and stories. This has yielded incredibly creative works that inspire more people to explore the area. Let’s discover these five projects!



1. Silpmuang x ease studio

Silpmuang, located on Rong Muang Road, has specialized in manufacturing, retailing, repairing, and selling materials related to umbrellas for street vendors and outdoor umbrellas for over 60 years. Each step is meticulously handcrafted, with special attention paid to every detail. The shop also produces special umbrellas for events and general companies that require customized umbrellas for advertising.


For this collaboration, ‘ease studio’ – a craft design studio that enjoys experimenting with different materials through new techniques – introduced a concept for developing a new collection of street vendor umbrellas. These umbrellas have enhanced functionality, sporting eye-catching designs with a base that can serve as a table leg or chair. This reduces the carry burden while increasing convenience. Additionally, the umbrellas are easy to assemble and help save space.



2. Num Eiang Astrology x Ek Thongprasert

Num Eiang Astrology, founded by Feng Shui Master Hieng Saengow in 1956 in Hat Yai District before moving to Soi Phraya Singhaseni, also known as Trok Salak Hin, has been for generations a beloved companion of families who favor auspicious timing through the Chinese astrological calendar. Adapting to the modern era, they developed the Num Eiang Astrolendar app to help pass on Chinese astrological knowledge to future generations.


Ek Thongprasert, a renowned fashion designer, is another figure who values Chinese astrology as a spiritual anchor during life’s pivotal moments. He collaborated with Thanawat Klongvicha to develop the ‘Only Good Days’ project, assembling auspicious days verified by Num Eiang into a collection of vibrant wall and portable calendars. Designed to appeal to the younger generation, these calendars can serve as artistic decorations for any room.



3. Chaikit Paper Factory x Likaybindery

Chaikit Paper Factory traces its origins back to the hard work of Chai Kee, who started out by peddling paper wholesale in the Soi Yotse area, eventually owning a large paper mill and warehouse in Hua Lamphong District. Initially, the business bore his name, ‘Chai Kee,’ which means ‘good luck’ in Chinese, before transitioning to ‘Chaikit’ in its second iteration. The flagship product was blue paper, popularly used for wrapping cotton to sell, as well as other goods like matchsticks, candles, and clothing. Additionally, the factory offered brown paper, white ream paper, and reused exam paper, cut down to resell for use as paper bag folding. However, with times changing and paper declining in popularity, the factory closed down in 1997.


Though the paper factory no longer exists, the third generation still values their family history, transforming the original site into a ‘Play Space’ community for coffee enthusiasts and artists. The store uses blue paper to wrap its drink cups, continuing the legacy of the Chaikit Paper Factory once located in Hua Lamphong. Phantipa Thanchookiet, a paper artist and co-founder of Likaybindery, was captivated by the unique blue paper and used it to design cutout flags to celebrate the Hua Lamphong District Festival. A workshop was also organized for everyone to create their own stamp designs on blue paper.



4. Baan Italy x COTH Studio

Originally focusing on importing European-style door decorations through an Italian intermediary, the store was aptly named ‘Baan Italy (also known as JNC Stainless & Wrought Iron).’ It is renowned for its diverse, finely crafted, and beautiful products, some of which are hard to find anywhere else, making it a highly frequented establishment for over 30 years.


The designers from COTH Studio, known for their expertise in metalwork and community stories, took the store’s hallmark of meticulous attention and friendly service to craft a unique work of art. They arranged the store’s products into a piece that conveyed heartfelt smiles, with the intention of adding some color and drawing people’s attention while also encouraging more support for local shops in community areas.



 5. Grandma Chokeng’s Turnip Cakes and Bea O CHa x Witti Studio

Given the community’s history spanning over a century, Hua Lamphong District is filled with established eateries that have served delicious food for decades. In an experimental project to develop the area, Witti Studio applied its design skills to enhance the visibility and original appeal of shop signs while preserving each establishment’s unique identity. This is done by transforming the owners’ handwriting into Typo Logos and improving the packaging and menu boards, while also designing versatile clothes with maps to help guide people through the various flavors.


One of the two chosen establishments is Grandma Chokeng’s Turnip Cakes, a street food cart operated by two sisters who have been carrying on their mother’s secret delicious Teochew-style turnip cake recipe for over 40 years. Known for its perfectly balanced taste, crispy exterior, soft interior, and aromatic fragrance, the menu also features coconut pancakes as a must-try secret item.


The other selection is Bea O CHa, a coffee shop with over 80 years of history in Hua Lamphong. Originally just a mobile coffee cart, it eventually opened a storefront selling duck noodles and beverages. Bea O CHa has adapted and evolved throughout the decades, now offering over 60 varieties of coffee, brewed drinks, and smoothies, along with simple, affordable breakfast options.


This initiative aims to preserve the community’s traditional wisdom in a manner that is both accessible and understandable to a new generation, fostering collaboration between traditional shops and craftsmen to raise awareness about the area’s valuable assets. Designers utilize their expertise and traditional shops gain new insights and ideas, supporting one another in this endeavor.


For more details, visit www.facebook.com/rtusbangkok


Bangkok Design Week 2024

Livable Scape

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27 Jan – 4 Feb 2024


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