Blog : Cultural Heritage

Peranakan Moderne: A Synthesis of Chinese, Indian, and Malay Cultures

Peranakan Moderne: A Synthesis of Chinese, Indian, and Malay Cultures

The Singapore-based designer brand “ipse ipsa ipsum” has unveiled one of the finest collections of Peranakan-inspired home décor and accessories.

/// Singapore ///


The front and rear of the floor standing mirror. — By ipse ipsa ipsum.
Bright and beautiful colors, and design on the rear panel tell fascinating stories of the Peranakan experience. — By ipse ipsa ipsum.

Bold and beautiful, Peranakan design is the product of Chinese migration into the Malay archipelagos of centuries ago. Making its world debut at last year’s International Furniture Fair Singapore, the new product line called “Straits Reflection” included a tabletop mirror and a floor-standing mirror that told stories of a fascinating amalgam of Chinese, Indian, and Malay craft traditions.


The designer brand was launched in 2016 as an initiative of “Sam & Sara”, an established Indian silverware business headquartered in Singapore. Combining ultramodern materials with traditional craftsmanship skills, the new brand aimed to create original designs under the slogan, “The extraordinary for the ordinary”.

“Straits Reflection” by Jeremy Sun and Nicholas Paul was the result of collaboration between the designer brand and the Peranakan Museum in Singapore. Peranakan Chinese, or Straits-born Chinese, are the descendants of Chinese who migrated into the Malay archipelagos form the 15th to 17th centuries. Over time, their cultural heritage, architecture, design, and cuisine have become prominent landmarks in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and parts of southern Thailand.

Indian floral patterns, Chinese bird paintings, and Malay-style bold colors bespeak centuries of cultural interactions. — By ipse ipsa ipsum.

“Straits Reflection” is evidence of an artistic ability that has evolved through on-going interactions among Chinese, Indian, and Malays. Its design aesthetics combine Indian floral patterns with traditional Chinese bird paintings, and Malay-style bold colors.

A curious mix of the old and the new, “Straits Reflection” includes a tabletop mirror that displays temperatures and air quality values, and a matching floor-standing mirror that reflects on the Peranakan experience.

Sam & Sara booth at IFFS 2018


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Thai-Style Chaise Lounge and Wedge Pillows: From the Traditional to the Modern

Thai-Style Chaise Lounge and Wedge Pillows: From the Traditional to the Modern

Perfected over time, the chaise lounge paired with triangular-shaped pillows offers a fascinating glimpse into Thai culture. As time goes on, the design is sliding into obscurity. The chair with a lengthened seat for leg rest and reclining differs from the European-style sofa in that the former is a short-legged, backless couch. The absence of a backrest is compensated by a set of wedge pillows.

/// Thailand ///


The Thai-style chaise lounge is a traditional appraoch to reclined seating. One way of sitting comfortably in one is to sit with your feet up. The wedge pillows serve both aesthetic and functional purposes and can be made from a variety of textiles. The traditional chaise lounge set is designed for side-lying and semi-reclining positons.

The “KIRI” chaise lounge paired with wedge pillows features a blend between traditional design and the Thai Modern concept.

Reviving interest in the design that’s quintessentially Thai, designer Ath Supornchai has debuted a chaise lounge set that mixed strong traditional values with the Thai Modern concept. Winning enthusiastic praise at this year’s International Furniture Fair Singapore, the sofa set called “KIRI” is selling under the brandname “Mobella”. It is also furniture of choice in the reception room at Line Chat App’s Thailand office.

The KIRI chaise lounge set has pride of place at Line Chat App’s Bangkok office.
KIRI is debuted under the Mobella brandname


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A Boutique Hotel Treasures the Charm of Ipoh

A Boutique Hotel Treasures the Charm of Ipoh

In the old town of Ipoh, a stylish boutique hotel not only blends into its historical surroundings, but also contributes to restoring all its former glory. Check this out.

/// Malaysia ///
Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Design: Ng Sek San




The history of Ipoh dates back to 1880 when Hakka immigrants arrived for work in tin mines and made a permanent home here. As mining industries continued on the decline, the once exuberant town was losing its luster. A pleasant twist of fate, the waning days of Ipoh attracted the attention of many designers, who banded together to keep the old-world charm from disappearing. Giving it their best shot, they succeeded in bringing Ipoh back in the limelight.

Among the projects aimed at restoring glory to Ipoh was Sekeping Kong Heng, a small boutique hotel designed by Ng Sek San, an internationally renowned Ipoh-born architect. The charming small hotel is tucked away on the upper floors of a three-story Colonial era shop-house complex in the old town. The first floor is reserved for a famous local coffee shop known for a variety of Chinese-style coffees and Ipoh’s favorite dishes. Its food menu includes the noodle dish called Hokkien Mee, satay, and spring rolls. Its existence guarantees that hotel guests will never run short of delicious foods and beverages.





To check in, know that the entrance to the hotel lobby is located on a small alleyway. Sekeping Kong Heng offers three types of accommodation — standard rooms, a family room and glass boxes. With its location, hotel guests can expect the authentic Ipoh experience. They wake up each morning to the heavenly smell of coffee being brewed fresh in the shop below. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The same applies here. Come breakfast time, expect to eat with locals and like locals do. Time well spent is time spent exploring this and other alleyways a stone’s throw away.

The hotel’s time-honored appeal blends seamlessly with Ipoh’s old-world ambience. It’s obvious the Ipoh-born architect has intended to keep this part of town like it has always been. In the process the hotel’s existing structure is left intact. A loft-style twist adds contemporary feel to the hotel’s interior, while patches of greenery adorn the exterior walls keeping the building cool. Open-concept design provides easy access connecting the café to retail shops and a flea market nearby. The architect’s thorough understanding Ipoh’s lifestyle is manifested in the way the hotel is neatly restored. Sekeping Kong Heng now contributes in its small way to breathing new life to the old city.







A Day Trip Through Charoen Krung

A Day Trip Through Charoen Krung

There is more to Charoen Krung than iconic landmarks. Keep walking and you will discover richer cultural heritage beyond the famous tourist attractions. A day trip through the historic riverfront neighborhood is one way to find out. Let the journey begin. 

/// Thailand ///

Story: Bundaree Deewong / Photo: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Bundaree Deewong, Peerapol Taiyaithieng



The historic neighborhood of Charoen Krung has attracted many tourists and locals looking for a glimpse of old-world Bangkok. Originally called New Road, the avenue and namesake pretty much follows the path of the Chao Phraya River. Rich in historical and cultural heritage, it’s a chic place to chill out if you have time on your hands.

The area is gradually transforming into a “creative district,” thanks to active collaboration between the Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC) and Thai Health, a wellness promotion organization. The initiative is aimed at promoting healthy behaviors for a better lifestyle and eventually mature to become a torchbearer for other districts to follow. Designed by Shma Soen, the project master plan recently won a highly commended award at the World Architecture Festival 2016 in Berlin.


Living ASEAN invites you on a journey for pleasure to discover beautiful places and come back the same day. Let’s get started at:

09.00: The journey begins on the hour at Taksin Bridge BTS Station. The venue is chosen for the start because it is easy to get to. You can come here either by the Bangkok Transit System or by boat services on the Chao Phraya.



On exiting the BTS station at Taksin Bridge or a nearby riverboat pier, take your time to admire Wall Art Exhibitions. Beautiful works by international artists have turned this neighborhood into a landmark ideal for photo shoots.




The first attraction that you shouldn’t miss is Chiew Eng Buai, a beautiful Chinese shrine located a stone’s throw away from the BTS station at Taksin. The historic building was erected in memories of Chinese traders arriving by sailing ships but later killed due to a misunderstanding some 150 years ago. The Chinese architectural masterpiece is bedecked with beautifully patterned tiles, religious images, and dragon statuary. You are most welcome to drop in and pay respects.



From the shrine, take a sidetrack next to the Shangri-La Hotel and you come to Charoen Krung Soi 50. The minor path is home to a Vintage Loft-style hostel named Glur Hotel Bangkok. It is popular among foreign tourists and backpackers looking for a decent place that won’t cost them an arm and a leg.



From the hostel heading north, you are back on the main avenue of Charoen Krung. The famous Bang Rak Market is located between Choroen Krung Soi 46 and 42. It’s a slice of paradise for shoppers and great experience for people who love to eat. The main drag is lined with old row houses showcasing the architectural style of old-world Bangkok.