The new IKEA store in Johor, Malaysia was dubbed Southeast Asia’s largest when it opened for business four months ago. That’s about to change as the candidate for the top spot will open in Thailand in a matter of days.
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The world-renowned, Swedish-founded furniture retailer will launch its newest, largest store in Southeast Asia in Bang Yai, Nonthaburi on March 15. It will be the country’s second IKEA store that’s geared towards meeting the needs of people in Nonthaburi as well as outlying districts in Bangkok’s Northwest.
The newest retail establishment in Bang Yai spreads over a surface of 50,278 square meters, compared to 46,700 square meters at the IKEA Tebrau store in Johor. The Malaysian store was opened on November 16, 2017.
The IKEA Bang Yai store is partially solar-powered. Its solar arrays comprising 4,548 photovoltaic cells mounted on the rooftop are capable of producing 1.5 megawatts per year, or about 13% of the building’s electricity needs. It is LEED certified for quality and achievement in green building features.
Unlike other IKEA retail establishments, the Bang Yai store has cashier stations on every floor. The new design enables shoppers who are short on time to get in and out of the store faster.
IKEA’s world largest store is located in South Korea. Opened in December 2014, the IKEA Gwangmyeong has 59,000 square meters of business space. The chain retail establishment has six stores in Southeast Asia — two in Singapore, three in Malaysia, and one in Thailand. The Bang Yai store will be number 7 in the region.
The Hla Day Shop in Yangon is no ordinary crafts store. It sells works of skilled and authentic craftsmanship produced and marketed by a community of over 400 people working in an integrated, sustainable way with a product development team.
Story: Samutcha Viraporn
At the beginning of July Hla Day celebrated its first anniversary at the Pansodan Street location in Yangon; but in fact this group has been working since 2012 to support small community businesses in Myanmar in developing local products and bringing them to the international market, with an emphasis on quality and social sustainability. Hla Day was successful almost from the very start, its goods so well received that it was able to expand. With Ulla Kroeber as its leader, the team now works with communities in Yangon and many rural areas, giving recommendations to craftsmen on product types, materials, and production processes. Among other benefits, these efforts provide work and income for women who have contracted HIV.
Products include pillow covers, scarves, ornaments, cards, and dolls, and usable items from recycled materials. Besides being finely crafted work, a core goal is that products be contemporary and useful, and success in all this has resulted in project support from the AirAsia Foundation. “Hla day” in Burmese translates as “beautiful,” and the beauty here runs deep in the creation of true utility and value for crafts communities, buyers, and society as a whole while never forgetting to help the people at the back of the line.
Café culture is blooming in Phnom Penh. But here, unlike other cities in the world, Starbucks is not the leader in the business. Let’s find out who really is the coffee king in Cambodia?
Today, many good cafés can be found in Phnom Penh. But if you ask people on the street what is the no.1 coffee shop in town. The answer is most likely “Brown”. Even among the expats and tourists who have visited Phnom Penh many times over, the answer is most likely the same. Anupol Yooyuen, a Thai designer who just launched his furniture at Studio 18 in the city center, told us: “You should go to Brown café. It’s really nice. Cool!”
Brown was founded by four Cambodian cousins. Chang Bunleang is responsible for running the business. Kang Hok is the architect, while Chhong comes in as pastry chef and interior designer, and Kang Sen as structural engineer. They opened the first café on Street 214 in Phnom Penh in 2009. It is locally known as Brown Samdech Pan. The brand “Brown” is synonymous with “t’nort”, which is Khmer for the color brown and the national tree of Cambodia.
Nowadays Brown has 14 shops on prime locations, which have become popular hang-outs among students, young professionals, middle aged people, and expats. Starbucks made its debut here in 2015 and has since had 5 outlets at tourist spots, like BKK1 and AEON Mall. Actually, there are other players in the business besides Brown, and Starbucks. They can be found at practically every corner in the city center, among them Gloria Jean’s, Café Amazon, and local cafes. But Brown is clearly outstanding in terms of architecture, interior design, food on the menu, and especially the staff, who take orders from the table. Coffee quality is the thing that no one can take away from Brown. It’s the local hero, like “Jack the Giant Slayer” in Cambodia’s coffee business.
Not only is it Instagram worthy, but it’s also hip to be part of a thriving café culture. Next time you’re in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, here are ten cafés to chill out with a cuppa and post your best OOTD shots.
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– Merchant’s Lane / Kuala Lumpur –
Its location in bustling Chinatown serves as constant inspiration in defining this stylish café’s aesthetics. The phenomenally popular Merchant’s Lane is known for its vintage touches, most apparent through its traditional rattan chairs. The upper level, a beautiful blend of traditional elements and modern touches, provides more space to cater to the quaint café’s ever-growing number of fans.
For more information on Merchant’s Lane, click here.
– Peter & Mawar / Kota Damansara –
Its namesake alludes diners to the café’s contradicting yet complementing elements. The heavy use of wooden panels on the walls and floors are cleverly contrasted with floral murals and pops of color from the Scandinavian-inspired furniture, giving the space a warm and welcoming vibe.
The upper level uses mirrors to make the narrow space appear roomier. Meanwhile, those enjoying a cup of latte at the outdoor area may be tempted to take a wefie or two against the iconic exterior walls.
For more information on Peter & Mawar, click here.
– Nippori / Empire Damansara –
A step into this minimalist café evokes the feeling of stepping into someone’s home, in line with the café’s concept of serving home-style Japanese food. The sunken seating is a refreshingly unique feature and blends perfectly well with other quirky elements in the café, from the magazines hung on the ladder to the colorful display of kitschy collectibles on the open shelves. The beautifully modern Nippori celebrates food through its eye-catching dishes, serving up neat, perfectly-arranged bowls of steaming rice and fresh salads.
Sharing a courtyard with popular backpacker spot BackHome Hostel, this cute compact café sets itself apart from KL’s long list of hipster joints by including top-notch local coffee in its menu. Its signature lightbulb-lit sign serves as a beacon for passers-by, tempting them to make a pit-stop for a rich cup of coffee. LOKL proudly proclaims its love for Kuala Lumpur through the iconic posters hung on its feature wall, often serving as a vibrant backdrop for OOTD shots.
For more information on LOKL Coffee Co, click here.
– Rimba & Rusa / Kota Damansara –
Lush greenery is prominently featured at this hip coffee joint, starting from the mini rainforest adorning its entrance. Mint-colored accents used throughout the café is a welcomed complement to its collection of live plants, creating a cooling retreat from the city’s hot and humid weather.
The pretty desserts showcase, neatly displayed using see-through cake stands, is the first to greet diners stepping through the entrance. Pick your favourite cake, grab a seat by the ceiling-to-floor windows and watch the world go by.