| D Destiny |
ART is no stranger to the Thais, just like how Thailand is no stranger to tourists. Bangkok has embraced the endless possibilities of the contemporary art scene in recent years. Holding a handful of major galleries including the Museum of Contemporary Art and Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, more independent galleries with great initiative have surfaced around the city.
If your time in Bangkok is limited, and you want to focus on shopping but your love for art is immense, then head right to Siam Centre, and you are likely to leave satiated as you will get a great introduction to the Thai contemporary art scene.
Nestled just opposite of Siam Square, the three Siams as many would call, have Siam Centre sandwiched between Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon.
The issues with most shopping centres in many Asian cities are their lack of creativity. Regardless of how modern and clean they can look, they generally remain dull with the concept where shops are usually lined up along an open atrium. Siam Centre attempts to break this tradition and make Bangkok shopping experience unique, infusing some excitement by integrating art and design into its commercial concept.
According to the owner and operator of Siam Centre, “Retailing is no longer about retailing, but about providing variety of experience and an arena where people can be inspired, excited, and entertained. In fact, we are no longer a shopping centre. We’re creating an ‘ideaopolis’ – a place where great new ideas are presented, where art, fashion, technology, lifestyle and entertainment converge to create the unexpected and an inspiring experience for every visitor, and at every visit.
Visitors posing on a scooter
“We are pioneering a revolutionary new retail development concept – one you couldn’t find anywhere but at Siam Centre. We call this concept, ‘Absolute Siam’.”
Innovative is the integration of art at any floor of Siam Centre. From the entrance to the lighting with over 500 LED screens and monitors providing an ever-changing atmosphere to the seats, and from the sleek-looking escalators to the colourful ceilings, all are reflecting art and design. Pieces of art from Thai and international artists are also on display on each floor.
Furthermore, with every step you take in Siam Centre, you are in the middle of future innovations. You will enjoy the experience of having a close interaction with all technological advances. It may sound like a contrast but the overall vibe successfully blends natural elements with high-tech facilities. In some corners you will find branches emerging from canvases and trees made from blonde wooden blocks and in others it is all LEDs, TV screens. There will also be no more posters or billboards but interactive digital walls and surfaces, as well as ‘digital stylists’ and even ‘digital closets’ where people can do ‘digital fittings’.
There are also stairways that light up in a series of bright colours. The stairs of symphony sounds like music to the ears, well, it really does! The stairs are like a piano keyboard, every step is a chord and you can play music if you are talented enough – Take it literally to the dance floor, perhaps?
Watch out! Mr P is in trouble, carelessly wandering around Siam Centre with his headphone on, and little did he realise he is about to step on some … well … some alarmingly orange poop, while the others were only busy snapping away at his misfortune. Worry not, Mr P is only a mascot from Thai design brand, Propaganda, which a few of its sculptures can be found inside the shopping centre, but not as prominent as the one outside. Having highlighted so, in fact, many of the sculptures and displays inside the building come in XL size, such as Model’s Own impressive over-flowing nail polish or the bird nests housing a shop. If you are not interested in these, then why not hop on the stationary scooters and motorcycles for a photo opportunity, or pose behind cardboard cutout displays. All these will certainly fill up the bytes of your camera memory.
It may be a bit too conceptual for casual browsers and the black backdrop may be off-putting to some, but many shops have quality art installations that you may not want to miss. In my point of view, if a modern art museum and a shopping centre would have a child, Siam Centre would be it. It is not only a feast for the eyes but also a feast for the senses. Everything is artsy fartsy, in a good way.