It is the birthplace of Bangkok’s creative community hub.
And now, Charoenkrung welcomes yet another uber cool hangout spot that pays tribute to its legacy. Introducing Central: The Original Store.
A time-traveling portal between the past and the present, Central: The Original Store has opened as a revival of Central Group’s storied retail lineage. It pays homage to the brand’s deep roots by offering a blend between its mid-twentieth century origins and a contemporary lifestyle hub. It’s a creative space that features all a coffeeshop, a library, a bookshop, an exhibition space, and restaurant by a renowned chef, and a secret bar.
Don’t mistake it for a remake of the past, it’s rather a tribute to the era’s unspoken language of aesthetic unity. A time-traveling portal between the past and present, Central: The Original Store is a revival of the brand’s storied retail lineage that pays homage to the brand’s deep roots by offering art that blends the mid-twentieth century origins and contemporary lifestyle. Thailand’s leading retailer Central Group just launched this new cultural station that revamped the existing retail store into a new creative space calling all cool cats to come by and hangout. Here’s why you need to check it out.
[All images courtesy of Central: The Original Store]
1. The history
Central: The Original Store sits in Bangkok’s first cosmopolitan street in Charoenkrung. Back in the 1950s, this place was the go-to spot for all Bangkokians and foreigners who wanted a piece of the international world – from imported western books and magazines to products. Today in 2020, this 5-story building has been re-imagined by renowned Belgian minimalist architect Vincent Van Dyusen, to bring us a piece of the family heritage honouring the history of Central Group. While paying homage to the building’s origin and history, this exciting cultural centre also embraces the context of Bangkok’s neighbourhoods and the changing world around them.
2. The museum-worthy magazines
Bringing back the glory days of Charoenkrung, find yourself in awe with the artful displays, retro merchandise with contemporary graphics, adorable items with a spin of modern usage – all punctuated by historical anecdotes of the post-war era. Consider this your mini-museum and a gateway to the 1950s where you can explore old-school classics and magazines, spanning Look, Time, GQ, Reader’s Digest, and more. Back then, magazines were a staple of communication and culture from the western world for Thai people. Today, despite being immersed in this digital era, we continue to value and cherish the art of magazines. The best part? You can even purchase many of the original copies at friendly price points, too.
3. The Siwilai Cafe
Sip some freshly-brewed coffee and a la mode refreshments to kickstart your day at Siwilai Cafe. Hungry? They also have a full menu if you want to dig into some Thai classic breakfast dishes. Siwilai Cafe is a sustainable cafe, and purveys to the conscious community to enjoy the celebration of Thailand’s thriving coffee culture.
4. The Kolophon Retail Library
In celebration of Central’s legacy as a pioneer retail industry in Thailand, the Kolophon Retail Library is Bangkok’s first library to be devoted to education and learning, retail history, and be a resource centre for retail businesses. Their digital databases cover food, fashion, design, and business stories. The library functions under a pay-per-use system and is membership-based. It comes with many benefits like education programs, promotions, and other activities.
5. The Exhibition and Cultural Space
Delving deep into the rich histories of Central Group, there’s a cool exhibition on at the cultural spaces at the moment. They’ve got ‘The Origins of Central Since 1950’ on display for guests to explore the history and turn back the pages to see where it all began. It’s an ideal place for various themed exhibits on the upper floors of the building.
6. The events
From social gatherings to meetings, performances, and more the Central: The Original Store can house many kinds of events. Level 3 and Level 4 offer an intimate, cosy space to cater to all many requirements. Planning an art show in Bangkok? There couldn’t a more perfect place than here in this artsy neighbourhood.
7. Michelin-star Chef David Thompson’s Aksorn Thai restaurant
Fancy some old-time recipes from renowned chef David Thompson’s archives? The Michelin-starred chef has opened his first restaurant in Bangkok in over a decade. Indulge in some mouth-watering dishes that bring out flavours from the mid-twentieth century recipes from Chef Thompson’s personal collection of vintage Thai recipe books. Accompanying this is a beautiful open air kitchen where you can witness the dishes being prepared, as well as romantic outdoor seating overlooking the area.
8. Siwilai Sound Club and the secret bar
Get yourself into a jazzy affair at the courtyard where you might be sipping your espressos by day, and espresso martinis by night accompanied by some tunes. Given that Charoenkrung road has always been abuzz with jazz bars, it only comes naturally. The club houses more than 1,000 vinyl records and is the ideal destination for all music lovers. On the ground floor, there is a complete jazz-focused live room that features a grand piano and has been enriched by ever-changing light permeating from the courtyard’s glass ceiling. On the second floor, the audiophile bar is a complete devotee to vinyl with vinyl-only DJs. The shophouse style bar has been designed to create a jazzy mood for the evening and is tucked behind a secret entrance. A cool atmosphere, some great music, and a few crafty cocktails to suit.