Q: Did you immediately see the potential of the area?
A: “Yes, I saw the potential immediately because the area is so well located (Chinatown, Silom, Chao Phraya River) and Charoenkrung is the frst road in Bangkok, so there are many old buildings, and very lively sois. It’s a rare part of the city where you can actually walk around and observe artisans, mechanics, metal shops, retail shops of all kind of motor engineering workshops, small fresh markets, small Chinese temples, historical Chinese settler’s houses, converted warehouses, art galleries... I loved Talad Noi for all those reasons. The Creative District is now emphasizing and developing this community into a interesting destination and blend of upcoming creative businesses and old craftsmanship together.” Thomas Menard - Speedy Grandma, Soy Sauce Factory, Soulbar.
Peter Compernol & Stephanie Grusenmeyer - Founders & Design Directors, P. Tendercool
Q: What attracted you both to this area?
A: “Stephanie and I used to be dealers in Oriental art, we have been visiting for 25 years now and always stayed in this area as it is the Oldest part of town, near always exciting Chao Phraya River. We’ve always found this a very authentic part of the city and love the small shops in Talad Noi leading up to Chinatown. We loved it so much that 12 years ago we renovated three shophouses, now known as Speedy Grandma. When our current gallery became available for rent we did not hesitate one second: an art deco gem in not exactly high street. We figured that if we were good enough, people would find us. They did.”
Q: Do you think the district will continue to evolve?
A: “We are convinced it will. Just check the numbers of bars, restaurants, galleries which have popped up in recent years: 80/20 restaurant, Black pig Tattoo, 100 mahased, Jua, Maison Close, Tropic City,… not to mention what happens a bit further at Soi Nana in Chinatown. Warehouse 30 runs regular exhibitions, we are converting our warehouse into exhibition-space, Atty relentlessly puts her shoulders under the increasingly popular Gallery Hopping nights. This is just the start.”
A collective of like-minded individuals are focused on continuing to spearhead the development of the Creative District; and so far it seems to be working.
One of the key groups championing the area is The Creative District Foundation, a registered non-proft driven by local private active citizens and permanent residents, working voluntarily to improve livability and livelihood for those living and working in the area while developing it into a creative hub of the capital.
The foundation is but one of a few organizations working to realise the potential of the Creative District. It places the preservation and protection of current local way of life and businesses above all else while encouraging new developments, particularly responsible and creative ones. Its vision is to have a district that is economically robust and diverse, with new innovative and creative products and services standing side by side with traditional ones that were there first.
Some luxury hotels in the area have seen the benefit of the Creative District as an added experience for their guests.
“For the Peninsula Bangkok the Creative District is the perfect representation of Thai creativity, entrepreneurialism, heritage, harmony, discovery & surprise.
I have yet to meet a guest not captivated by the sensory overload an exploratory walk offers.
We are using it to differentiate a stay by the river and demonstrate clearly why this is indeed the centre of Bangkok once again.” Geoffrey Webb, Director of Marketing, Peninsula Hotel, Bangkok
Over the past five years many more newcomers have moved in, all bringing something different with their own takes on what to inject into the area.
Two of the biggest arrivals have been Warehouse 30 and the new TCDC (Thailand Creative & Design Centre).
Opening its doors in August of 2017 Warehouse 30 would be happily at home in Brooklyn, New York. Inhabiting a space of what was once a World War 2 storage facility, and under the guidance of renowned and visionary architect Duangrit Bunnag, Warehouse 30 has become one of the centrepiece destinations in the district. When you explore what lies behind the towering glass doors you’ll soon discover there is pretty much something for everyone such as fashion and accessories from local and international designers, vintage clothing and bric-a-brac, books, food, coffee and even documentary flm screenings.
As you would expect in a ‘Creative District’ art can be found everywhere with a number of art galleries and unique art spaces calling the district home and many of Bangkok’s best street artists have left their mark on the sides of many buildings and walls adding to the artistic ﬂavour of the area.
Speedy Grandma: Thomas Menard and Unchalee Anantawat’s frst foray into the neighbourhood and the destination that started it all. This art gallery and event space focuses on experimental art and ideas.
672/50-52 Charoen Krung Soi 28
Soy Sauce Factory: Another of Thomas Menard’s creative ventures, this art space and bar focuses on photographic exhibitions and good drinks.
11/1 Charoen Krung Soi 24, Bangkok, Thailand
Maison Close: Part art gallery, bar and tattoo shop that hosts weekly events, exhibitions, movie nights, an underground film festival, and more.
397/399 Charoen Krung Soi 45
Galerie Adler: Contemporary international art gallery found on the same Soi as Outlaw Cuisine and Maison Close cocktail bar.
373/2 Charoen Krung Soi 45
Bangkok River City: One of the long standing presence’s in the area has recently launched their new RCB Photographer’s Gallery on the second ﬂoor with a show with renowned photographer Patrick Brown.
Charoen Krung Rd, Soi 24
Serindia Gallery: Showing fne art and photography exhibitions by international artists.
OP Garden, 36 Charoen Krung Rd.
Atta Gallery: This gallery’s sole focus is contemporary art jewelry.
OP Garden, 36 Charoen Krung Rd.
Most Gallery: Creative space dedicated to photography.
672/63 Charoen Krung Soi 26
1 Projects: Located on the ground ﬂoor of the same building as Most Gallery. Showcasing the works of local and international emerging Asian artists.
Eliseo Barbàra, MOST Gallery + MOST 2414 Digital Marketing Agency
Q: What’s missing from the Creative District?
‘I would like to see more entrepreneurs and startups move into the Creative District, from industries not strictly connected to art and food & beverage. It would be great to have people doing innovative stuff such as mobile and web solutions, content development, and media production.’
If it’s some personal art you’re after, the ink on skin type of art, then head to Black Pig Tattoos where you’ll fnd New York transplant Luke Satora, a Japanese-American tattoo artist. Luke made the move to Bangkok in 2016 and gravitated to the Creative District. You can fnd his shop positioned above the Tropic City
Speaking of bars, when it comes to food and beverage offerings in the area, and aside from the delicious local street food delights, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Chet Adkins, Chef/Co-Owner of Jua.
Q: Why did you decide to open in this area?
A: We chose the creative district area due to its proximity to the river and the feel of being in “real” Bangkok. It doesn’t have the feel of other areas like Thonglor, Ekamai and the like.
These areas are congested and overcrowded with tall buildings and masses of people.
Q: Any other plans in the Creative District beyond Jua?
A: We are planning to do more projects in the area as we really feel it is a better place to live and work. There are not to many areas in Bangkok like this and with groups trying to protect the architecture and soul of this area we would rather be here.
Refurbishing older buildings rather than building new ones makes a place hold on to its heritage and history which we feel is important in a city like Bangkok.
Jua: This Izakaya style restaurant and bar opened by chef Chet Adkins (ex - Ku De Ta, Bangkok) and photographer Jason Lang serves up a fresh and innovative Japanese menu and a list of enticing drinks.
672/49 Charoenkrung Soi 28, Bangkok, Thailand
Take the scenic route and arrive at the Si Phraya Pier.
Tropic City: Downstairs from Black Pig Tattoo, Tropic City is a cocktail bar founded by two Swedes - Sebastian De La Cruz and Philip Stefanescu that specializes in gin based creations. The vibrant tropical exterior makes it easy to fnd on
Charoen Krung Soi 28. 672/65 Charoen Krung Soi 28, Bangkok, Thailand.
Outlaw Cuisine: Owned by artist turned chef Romain Guiot, Outlaw Cuisine offers up a Mediterranean focused menu. Keeping with the vibe of the area the exterior of the restaurant is emblazoned with mural artwork.
415 Charoen Krung Soi 45, Bangkok, Thailand.
80/20: Around the corner from Little Market is this innovative Thai restaurant with a menu that comprises of 80% locally grown and organically produced ingredients. Chef Napol “Joe” Jantraget serves up some truly eclectic dishes that are perfectly at home in a creative district.
80/20, 1052-1054 Charoen Krung Soi 26, Bangkok, Thailand.
Maison Chatenet: Situated on the corner at the entrance to Warehouse 30 sits this taste of France helmed by chef/proprietor Marcel Chatenet. From coffee and pastries to quiche and porchetta sandwiches, this sleek designed two-level spot is yet another welcome offering in the district. Maison Chatenet, Warehouse 30
Charoenkrung Soi 30, Bangkok, Thailand.
Foojohn: You’ll discover a mix of crepes, wine, American barbeque, and live music spread throughout this multi-level venue.831 Charoen Krung Soi 31, Bangkok, Thailand.
You can also get your groove on in the Creative District. If it’s some live music you’re after you can’t go wrong with SoulBar found at 945 Charoen Krung Rd., a vibrant and intimate venue that caters to fans of good soul and funk music.
Rodd Chant is an Australian and an ex-New Yorker, he spent many years working as a Creative Director for major advertising agencies in Sydney, Singapore, and New York and he has a passion for all things creative, especially in the Asia region. You can find him on Instagram @roddchant