The New Moderns
Text by Charlene Chan
Photographs courtesy of the store owners
SOI ARI, BANGKOK
Flanked on two sides by some of Bangkok’s most popular attractions (Pratunam Market and Chatuchak Weekend Market), Soi Ari is a district that’s gone largely ignored up until the last few years. The neighbourhood, which is also known colloquially as Phahonyothin Soi 7, was formerly home to military and ministry officials, but has experienced quite the evolution since, making a name for itself with its growing brood of charming local boutiques and eateries.
Compared to the bustle and congestion of its neighbours, Ari’s elaborate network of sois, or side streets, lends itself to a burgeoning community of quieter, more restrained options for the discerning visitor. Its tree-lined alleys run counter to the usual imagery the Thai capital is known for, providing a welcome respite from the restless energy of the city. This has made Soi Ari the ideal spot from which to set up camp; visitors and residents alike enjoy a slice of tranquility while remaining in the heart of Bangkok.
With hordes of tuk-tuks plying the streets, riding or buying a bicycle might be the last thing anyone in Bangkok would think of doing. But the Thai offshoot of Japan’s Tokyobike, located in an airy two-storey compound in the Ari neighbourhood, has become a favourite amongst guests for its food and drink choices as well.
Cooked up by the team at Laliart Coffee, the café serves up a selection of ice creams, pastries and beverages, making it a popular destination for a mid-afternoon break.
Vick’s Weekend was launched in 2014 as a companion label to Thai designer Teerut Wongwatanasin’s original clothing line Vickteerut. Helmed by design director Aurapraphan Sudhinaraset, the label is priced more affordably and attempts to capture the comforting, low-key atmosphere of weekends and holidays. The clean lines and earthy tones of its clothes are matched fittingly by the brand’s Soi Ari flagship store, which is outfitted simply in bare brick and concrete for a soothing space away from the buzz of the streets.
Located in the south of Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta, Kemang is a neighbourhood that’s something of a study in contrasts. Taking its name from a species of mango, the area was originally a kampung, or village, which witnessed an influx of expats towards the end of the 1970s due to its proximity to the city’s central business district. This has given Kemang a distinctive and endearing blend of new and old: locals, having lived there for generations, anchor the energy and global dynamism of the region’s newcomers with time-honoured traditions and crafts.
In the last couple of decades, Kemang has undergone a shift away from its residential roots, going down a more commercial path and drawing a younger, more cosmopolitan crowd. This has introduced quite the variety of concepts and experiences to the area, offering both locals and visitors an eclectic mix of options set against the homey, easy-going atmosphere of the neighbourhood.
Amidst a growing number of galleries in Jakarta is Dia.Lo.Gue, an artspace that also hosts a café and store. Its name might not mean much to the uninitiated, but is translated rather more meaningfully into the local Betawi language to mean He/She.You.Me. This, shares founder Engel Tanzil, is a reflection of the desire for more forthcoming creative dialogue to take place among artists, designers and the general public—something the gallery aims to foster by embracing all forms of media.
True to its vision, the building, designed by renowned Indonesian architect Andra Matin, houses a number of communal spaces where guests can mingle and exchange ideas following their visits to the rotating art exhibitions. A series of high-ceilinged rooms and open galleries, set within the nature-infused compound, functions as an oasis of sorts in the midst of the Kemang traffic.
Weekends in Kemang see Kinosaurus open for business. The microcinema, which screens a selection of local and international indie films that larger cineplexes are unable to accommodate, has quickly gained traction amongst Jakartans seeking lesser known titles. Founders Meiske Taurisia, Muhammad Zaidy and Edwin—all of whom have backgrounds in film direction and production—launched the concept in December 2015 in a bid to offer greater diversity in film to locals. On weekdays, coffee shop Ruang Seduh extends into the space, while those more inclined to music can browse records in the adjacent Monka Magic Vinyl store.
Read more in The X Press N˚2.