I hope you’re ready for an adventure seeing as it’s summer after all. Summer is well underway and should only mean a few things, work less, get out in that sunshine and get some exploring underway. Hibernation is for winter.
This summer I’ve taken this advice quite literally, packed up my bags and left the humid city behind in search of creative inspiration crossing the waters into the South East Asian seas, first stop being Thailand’s Bangkok.
Itchy feet have come my way several times and I’ve been fortune enough to explore quite a few incredible countries. Working in the creative industry it’s important to take yourself out of your comfort zone, see different cultures and soak in some inspiration from places further a field. (Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)
We all know a good day starts with breakfast; we opted for mammoth ones after combating our jetlag. Pancakes for Laura and doorstopper size French toast for myself. Once our tummies were layered with sugary goodness we set out to explore.
Bangkok is a city that you either love or hate, having visited previously I can only say good things about the metropolitan city. Yes it’s one hot sticky mess and leaves you feeling gross but London isn’t far off that in the summer season after all.
The city has a buzz not only by the noise of traffic but an excitable energy as tuk tuks fly past, people flood the streets selling all sorts of crafts and the air wafts with street food stands as locals cook up a storm.
Climbed aboard a tuk tuk donning fluorescent lights, it rocketed us into the city centre, providing us with one huge hit of adrenaline dodging cars, trucks, buses, humans and animals until we reached Jim Thompson’s house.
One thing I’ve always found fascinating is how advanced design in this part of the world is, it’s experimental and eye opening ranging from local artisans, through to product design and of course interior design.
Jim Thompson was an American businessman who helped revitalise the Thai silk industry in the 1950s-60s. After several trips to Bangkok and the restoration of the Oriental Hotel, he decided to settle in the city after falling in love with the place.
JT disappeared in 1967 aged 61 on a trip through the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia; his age was a significant number according to his horoscope.
He is well known in the interior design industry for his collection of sumptuous silks that are used worldwide to this day. Fox Linton distribute his fabrics to the interior design industry, proudly representing his hand-woven iridescent coloured silks. The quality of the silk is unrivalled and has been incorporated within many projects I’ve worked on.
The house provides a respite from the hustle of the city and is a spot I would recommend to anyone visiting Bangkok keen to see a different angle of design. It’s great to step away from high-rises that fill a large proportion of the skyline and have an insight into traditional Thai interiors.
The house is made of six connecting teak houses.
The traditional teak house is full of precious artefacts that Jim Thompson sourced and rescued from various countries, the collection is varied with ceramics, antiques, sculptures, furniture and of course lots of Thai silk.
The stunning dining room and living room overlook JT’s garden, which he described to relatives as being like a jungle. The garden is plush with wild trees and plants that glow against the redness of the teak timber house.
Outside there are giant pots with little fish swimming about and a large rectangular pond with fast coy splashing about.
In the gardens you’ll stumble across a tall stone figure that looks as though it is taking a step forward, the stone shows beautiful folds on the draped cloak. The sculpture is made from grey limestone and is aged c.800 years old.
There’s a beautiful little spirit house that sits in the garden. Thai people believe that when you build a house you have to respect the spirits of the people that lived on the land previously, so they build a little house outside for them that must not be positioned in the shadows of the new house.
Each week they offer food, drink and flowers to the spirit house as an offering, in return they receive good luck.
Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the house only externally, so I’ll guide you through the key parts of the property.
The main entrance has a marble chequerboard floor that is 200 years old, taken from an old palace it was reclaimed and installed to help keep the floor cool.
To enter a room there are planks of wood that you have to step over, that resemble cut out doorways floating in the walls. This is to prevent evil spirits from entering rooms as they can only travel in straight lines according to Thai tradition.
JT installed an internal western style staircase as opposed to the traditional outdoor staircase favoured by Thai tradition.
Jim Thompson made the table lamps in the living room; he created them by using Burmese drums that he turned upside down to form the base of the lamp. A fine example of the innovative way Jim Thompson’s creative mind worked.
Traditional dining would consist of sitting on the floor but Thompson wanted to provide his guests with some added comfort and created a dining table instead. The dining table is made of two Chinese gaming tables pushed together.
Through the hallway there are a set of double internal doors located on the first floor, they were found in a pawnshop. The doors are exceptionally intricate made with iron detailing and lead to the master bedroom.
In the bedroom there is a miniature wooden house, back in the day people dyed mice different colours and watched them run through the house for entertainment. Back when TV, tablets and the internet didn’t exist (can you imagine those times!)
There are two small garages converted to represent further collectible ceramics and artwork.
There is a stunning shop filled with vibrant silk scarves, kaftans and patterned bags for anyone in need of sumptuous silk souvenirs.
Needless to say we wanted to purchase everything but being the first stop of the trip we scurried away before we left loaded with items and empty purses.
Soaking in all our newfound knowledge on Thai interiors we sat by the large pond watching the fish swim by. Feeling very inspired it was fascinating understanding Jim Thompson’s passion to revive the silk industry and it is clear why he is such an important figure in Thailand’s art society.
After perusing through the drinks menu, delicious mojitos found their way to our table and slid down our necks ridiculously well. Lemongrass & passionfruit concoctions.
Sheltered from the monsoon rains it was an idyllic spot overlooking JT’s house and reflecting on our first days adventure. #feelingtranquil
Next up I’ll take you on the next Thai discovery…