#ARTBASELHK13: 032C Magazine Makes A Race For Hong Kong, We Speak With HK Native and Friend, Editor Carson Chan
This Thursday 032C Magazine will be making its Hong Kong debut via a block beer party during Art Basel week… at where else… but Kapok on Sun Street of course. This seemingly low kew shindig is a pretty big debut considering 032C is currently one of the most sought after “Style” magazines around. We’re talking Fashion, Art, Design, and Architecture turned upside down and inside out. In the last issue alone (and there are only two issues a year) we find a conversation between Wolfgang Tillmans and Neil Tennant, Cory Arcangel and Paul Chan, sculptor Thomas Houseago interviewed by Cornelius Tettel, photographed by Hedi Slimane, and a report on the Dutch countryside by Rem Koolhaas.
Although publisher/managing director, Sandra von Mayer-Myrtenhain, will be in town to meet and greet guests and followers of the magazine, my real connection is with a pal and ex-university colleague, Carson Chan, who is currently the magazine’s Editor-at-Large, and who has had his eye on Asia for awhile, not just because of China’s cultural and consumerist power, but Hong Kong is where his family is from. Last month, Carson tapped my shoulders earlier to brainstorm a Hong Kong debut for the latest issue, a tell-all by Nicolas Ghesquiere and Cate Blanchett in bondage.
Carson Chan (left). Courtesy of Biennial of the Americas.
On top of being Editor, Carson ran a multi-disciplinary artist-in-residence non-profit gallery, PROGRAM. He also just completed his work curating the Marrakech Biennale, and now is on to make a mark at the Biennial of the Americas in Denver.
We sit with the busy boy and discuss our lives at Architecture school and the paths he took since with 032C Magazine.
theW+: Hi Carson, so we’ve been classmates since the first year of Cornell Architecture, and at Cornell we’ve always dabbled beyond the confines of the Architectural program, for example remember the year we both worked on bringing in Fashion Designers from New York City, AsFour, Diva Pittala, Adrian Cowen and Benjamin Cho, whose works we thought had a more architectural/formalist edge. As well as worked with artists and other architects whose works had a fashion edge like John Demas and Sarah Morhaim, tell me did these University Projects influence the way you chose your path after you and I graduated the program?
Carson Chan at the’Emerging Fashions’ Architecture show at Cornell University School of Architecture in Ithaca in 2002. Exhibition curated by Carson Chan and JJ.Acuna.
CC: Definitely, there’s no question in my mind that the intellectual freedom and seemingly limitless opportunities at Cornell Architecture led me down the path I have taken since. I remember that one of the first things we were told was that the we were in school to learn how to see the world through architecture, not necessarily to learn how to build buildings. The sensibility towards space, form, function, context and history that was ingrained in me at Cornell has been key to my work as a writer, editor, and curator.
Julian Charriere and Andreas Greiner at Carson Chan’s PROGRAM Berlin, 2011.
theW+: Your role as Editor-at-Large at the very influential “Style” magazine 032c reflects your earlier interests in Fashion, Art, and Architecture. How did you get to this point and what about 032c excites you?
CC: For me, 032c is first and foremost a physicalization of our chief editor Joerg Koch’s imagination. His eclectic worldview is what has driven the magazine for the past 13 years, from the first issue on; it’s an almanac of his various obsessions. I think the quality that people appreciate most about it is its intellectual freedom and generosity. Few so-called style or fashion magazines would have embarked on some of the things we’ve done. Issue 19 (Summer 2010) featured almost 50 pages on American novelist William T. Vollmann; Issue 23 (Winter 2012/2013) featured a cover dossier on contemporary farm machinery along with an essay on re-thinking the countryside by Rem Koolhaas. We publish interviews with historian Eric Hobsbawm the same way we would with the elusive fashion photographer Steven Meisel.
Barkow Leibinger “Loom Hyperbolic” at the Marrakech Biennale, curated by Carson Chan 2012.
theW+: What do you feel about Asia at the moment? Magazines like Monocle, Surface, and Wallpaper* have made big in roads here in the last few years. What do you think 032c can contribute to the market and do you think readers here will understand where you guys are coming from?
CC: It’s an interesting question because it’s not the type of thing we discuss much in our editorial meetings, perhaps at our own disadvantage. We have a large following in Europe and in North America, and a growing one in Japan - but in general, as a platform for communication, we’re definitely interested in reaching out to new audiences. Our publisher, Sandra von Mayer-Myrtenhain is currently visiting Beijing and Hong Kong to learn more about the current cultural climate, and learn how we can participate. Issue 5 (Summer 2003) was called the Shanghai issue; it featured original photography from Wing Shya, Oliver Helbig, Heiji Shin; Joerg and Sandra spent time there to develop it, but where in 2003 the attitude was very much one of observation, today we see ourselves as viable contributor to contemporary Asia. The magazine’s byline is “Manual for Freedom, Research and Creativity,” a mantra that people in Asia are embracing in all aspects of their lives.
Elin Hansdottir “Mud Brick Spiral”, curated by Carson Chan for the Marrakech Biennale 2012.
Based on the weather in Hong Kong lately, it seems like the city is not yet ready to give up on Spring (ie. rainy and chilly). So therefore, while it is still Spring out in the city, take your umbrella and go to some of these shops I checked out with friends, MacArthur and Peter (as in SOM, one of the US’s hottest designers today.)
Peter and Mac getting along just fine!
Not knowing how to spend the Sunday, I decided to meet up with Peter and Mac post-brunch for coffee. Soon after some gossip updates, we all decided that it was best to do some exercise .. and by exercise we mean a walking tour of one of my most favorite neighborhoods… the Sun Street / St. Francis Yard / Sau Wa Fong
(triangle?) in Wanchai Admiralty.
+ CARVEN / Moon Street
Our first stop of the tour, straight to Moon Street to check out the latest Spring looks at the newly opened CARVEN boutique.
For those who do not know, CARVEN was founded in 1945 at Rond Point des Champs-Elysees by Madame Carven to house her collection of Haute Couture. The shop has had a few transformations since the 90’s when Mardame CARVEN retired from the label, and since then the brand has been building a collection inspired by CARVEN’s very clean, elegant, and youthfully romantic approach to the “CARVEN” aesthetic.
In 2010 Guillaume Henry joins the CARVEN house as its newest Art Director. His biggest change? Adding the brand’s first men’s collection for the Summer 2012 line.
And by the looks of what’s on offer at the Moon Street CARVEN, this season it’s all about neon tangerines, electric greens, and florals. (A different interpretation of Spring than what we’re all stuck with in HK.)
Im loving the collaborative pieces with PORTER Bags and Zespa Shoes.
The friendly neighborhood CARVEN guy said “Hi”.
+ KAPOK / Sun Street
Next stop, we wanted to show Peter the original KAPOK shops. I know these days there are other locations… but I still think the Sun Street and St. Francis Street shops are the best. KAPOK is where you can go to find labels and goods before they they show up anywhere else in Hong Kong. They’re the true purveyors of fine goods in the city.
This time around we checked out sunglasses by Smith & Norby, the latest wallets by Jack Spade, and card cases by MAKR Carry Goods.
That said, i’m a big fan of these easy to carry Wm.J.Mills&CO. Sailmakers Bags from Greenport NY. (According to the label).
They have KINFOLK!
+ THE MEN’S SHOP by CLUB MONACO / St. Francis Yard
I’m a Club Monaco addict. There I said yet. I think my friend, Whitney and I buy at least one thing from this store every week.
Men in Hong Kong get an an extra special treat with The Men’s Shop concept on St. Francis street because they do ship in some extra special items only found in this store from some independent labels in the states. I’m loving the “needlepoint belts” from Smathers & Branson above.
We we all loved these great pair of loafers from Mark McNairy.
I was also tempted to get this umbrella from London Undercover.
Meanwhile I wore my new Club Monaco blazer for this season. It’s got green and yellow flowers printed all over it like wallpaper… but that’s exactly why I love it. It’s quite quirky.
+ WDSG Art & Craft Department / St. Francis Street
Around the corner we we went to check out the newest goods at the WDSG Shop… which looked more like a General Store from the wild west… That… or Williamsburg today.
Bangkok is quite good with super “Designed” Wallpaper*-esque nightlife concepts and offerings and has been since the emergence of “IT” joints like Bed Supper Club, FACE Bar, and Fallabella in the last decade.
While those bars are a memory of what they once were, making waves as of late are two new hotspots located high above the city with, SCARLETT, perfect for those wanting a sunset with a scene, and a new “speakeasy” very low underground, at the new/old Maggie Choo’s, for those wanting a bit of naughty privacy.
If you plan on going to SCARLETT, make sure you get reservations first because patrons come here early to catch the sunset with pre drinks, and then follow-up with delicious Tapaz, cold cuts, and cheese, with wine pairing. In addition, the menu is formulated by 2-star Michelin Chef Manuel Martinez.
The original SCARLETT is located in Beijing. The Bangkok bar is the sister location.
Designed by friends of mine at P49 DEESIGN, one of Asia’s top hospitality design studios, SCARLETT’s has plenty of greens for that softer touch and nice comfy outdoor lounging areas, plus indoor share tables perfect for big groups or impromptu meet ups. Tables are lit with exposed pendant bulbs to have that floating candle-light effect, and are framed by by colorful black, white, and red graphic tiles on the floor to add a bit of that Spanish fun and color but in a modern and subdued way.
It’s located centrally on the 37th floor of the Pullman Bangkok Hotel G where I stayed earlier this Spring. Its very easy to get to.
The sunset views are really the best part of the Pre-Dining experience here.
That same week, my friends and I were trying to figure out where to go for nightlife. And thinking that I wanted to blog about something new, a friend mentioned to me that a new bar, called Maggie Choo’s, just opened up by the same team which includes “IT” designer and “Nightlife Baron”, Ashley Sutton.
You may know Perth-born Sutton’s work via his other destination bars, Iron Fairies and Fat Gut’z. And recently he’s just opened a family friendly eating establishment at Siam Center, Mr. Jone’s Orphanage, and a bookshop/bar called Bookshop Bar. Funny that.
Just when you thought 1920’s Shanghainese fetishism in design has gone been-there-done-that… well, you can change your mind again with Sutton’s version of the concept… a concubine’s haven run by head-mistress, a character named, Maggie Choo.
What’s great about Maggie Choo’s, is that it’s truly a “speakeasy”, even the theatre of the sense of arrival gives you a feeling of naughy (using the word again) anticipation.
The door (as all faux-speakeasies tend to be) is a side door on the Ground floor of an old Novotel on Silom Road. You walk in, see a tiled wall with a picture of men eating noodles, then you notice you’ll need to walk down a flight of stairs (hand carved) and enter a what seemingly looks like an old-school dai pai dong Cantonese noodle bar.
“Is this it?”, you ask yourself, “Where are the concubines on a swing I keep hearing about?”. Just when you thought you’d give it all up, a lady tells you to follow her through a door with curtains.
And then just like some magic trick, the space expands… into this…
…A lush cavernous bar lined with vaults clad in steel and brick, a plush central bar that looks like a bank teller… and swings… everywhere. That night I got there too early so there were no concubines on swings, (they were swinging on their own… ghastly), but I got the point.
You’ll be surprised to know that all the bricks, steel, and vaults were actually already there and were just incorporated by Sutton for the design… so no faux “Disneyfication” here.
The site was originally a 1947 East India Company Bank underground vault. The concept works great with the space. Each vault has a VIP sitting area, and i’m sure you can close it up for privacy. Also each vault area connects to the other vaults so you can have one big party.
We ordered yummy “cantonese” snacks of friend dumplings and chicken wings plus fries and fried peanuts with house cocktails which tasted like the 1920’s.
These two served us.
It’s very well done. Although next time i’ll really want to try the noodles and dumplings at the cafe out front… which you can do before or after drinking!
According to their Facebook Page:
Maggie Choo’s was named after Shanghai cabaret owner who fled her hometown in 1931 following the Japanese invasion that tore the city.
Shortly after arriving in Bangkok, she found a 19th century Thai Chinese shoe box restaurant crammed into a basement 10 meters below Silom road serving authentic Thai chinese shophouse food.
When one day, she discovered behind the walls in the corner of the restaurant an entrance that lead to a derelict 19th century East India company bank built in 1847 used for storing porcelain and spices that the British used to carry back to England for Queen Victoria, her past caught up with her and she converted the old bank into a cabaret, just like when she used to back in Shanghai.
Today the cabaret is yet to be revived again…
Have a great night in Bangkok! We always do!
Songkran a.k.a. Thai New Year starts so much later in the year relative to Western or Chinese New Year, and this year the Thais celebrated this festive day on April 13th.
I was just so happy that I had the schedule to leave Hong Kong’s cold and wet Spring to bask in the Phuket sun as I was attending my first Songrkan while at the same time staying at the Maikhao Dream Resort & Spa in Natai, Phang Nga, one of Phuket’s newest and most luxurious resort properties.
According to Thai tradition, New Year rituals begin early in the morning when Thais rise to give alms to Buddist monks at the temple. As practice, children and the young are supposed to pour scented water over the hand’s of elders, and are then wished good health, happiness, and prosperity in return. This exchange of water for wishes is called “Rod Nam Dam Hua”. However, these days… it’s like an episode of “Thais Gone Wet & Wild”.
It’s the only time of year when Thais let loose and en masse go to the streets to go all water crazy. Using big water guns, pails, and hoses, locals splash water on themselves, other cars, and unsuspecting tourists who should know better. That said, most foreign visitors go to Thailand during Songkran just so they can party and get dangerously wet on the streets.
While my friends opted for Bangkok for the same weekend, I was looking for Phuket’s more chill environment. That said… with trucks and vehicles blasting dance music, and people with water guns all over the street, the Songkran scene in Phuket is not any less than other parts of the country.
Overall the trip was indeed sunny, fun, wild, and wet.
The Maikhao Dream Villa Resort and Spa played extraordinary hosts to the long Songrkan weekend. They had an amazing festive set up on New Year’s Day which included the freshest Thai Food market-style with the best spices, greens, and seafood available.
I mean seriously. The chef went to town. I think I pretty much had the best Pad-Thai of my life at that resort.
The properties, and there are two… one located in Phuket at Maikhao Beach and another one 15 minutes away at Natai Beach in Phang Nga, are rare in that they’re literally beach side (meaning you can step out of your villa and jump right into the water), and that the beaches are surrounded by National Parks, making them completely private, luxurious, and quiet from “party tourists”.
You can literally have breakfast, lunch, and dinner quietly while watching the waves go by.
And if the beach is not your thing, every villa and room has immediate access to the central Salt Water swimming pool… while a few, like my suite, has a private pool extending directly from the room.
The resort’s designers, Bangkok based dwp, opted for a simple, lush, and contemporary subdued style which relates strongly with Thailand’s traditional colonial architectural history.
It was a tough week overall with terrorist attacks in Boston, my sister’s hometown. The attacks plus tighter than usual deadlines at work almost brought me to the end of my rope. So it was quite refreshing to see a “TGIF”-style invite on Facebook for a little get together at Casa Capriz in Chai Wan, an artist’s haven in the industrial area aka. the last stop of the MTR’s Blue Island Line.
The Capriz part of the name refers to studio owner, Irene Capriz, pictured above, the lovely lady of Italian-Malay descent who came all the way to Hong Kong from Bologna, Italy, her hometown. The traditional lifestyle/retail space in Hong Kong’s more central districts maybe tight and expensive, but Casa Capriz’s roomy 2,600 square-foot showroom showcasing curated vintage furniture from around the world, is a breath of fresh air for those who are in a no-pressure mood to search of something different and with a curatorial eye. (Ie. not cheap metal, plastic, flat packed, and mass produced.)
Irene shares the space with Claudia Albertini, director of Platform China, and Paola Sinisterra (below) and Ignacio Garcia of the Tangram fashion label, to create a haven where one can go from trying out furniture, to perusing edgy art, while walking around in one of many Tangram clothes… again just a try. It’s a new way of experiencing shopping for a variety of things at one go while supporting independent creative initiatives.
This past Friday, the Chai Wan collective of artists and designers, known as Chai Wan Mei, organized a neighborhood shindig which included galleries like A0 Vertical Art Space, Latitude 22N, and YY9 Gallery. At Casa Capriz, a selection of erotic art curated by Platform China was on stage with kinky accessories by Sally Coco, a new line of lingerie from Tangram, and an amazing feast of fresh bread and pate from the bespoke bakers at Bread Elements.
The husband and wife team from Bread Elements, sharing their classic “Campagne” Loaf.
I was there with Time Out HK Editor and RTHK Radio Personality, Arthur Tam. We were fresh off our taping of his weekly show “From Top to Bottom” focused on queer issues locally and globally.
I met milliner, Jay Cheng, for the first time, whose studio was also in Chai Wan. Cheng’s hats were on sale and on display around the gallery and the space.
The biggest surprise of the evening was meeting theWanderlister+ reader, Norbyah, a cool mother of three, teacher, and an overall stylish lady… who like Irene, is half malay as well. She wore her market finds from Stanley Market. It’s lovely.
I had such a great time that night. For me a trip to Chai Wan is a creative re-charge, but for these artists and designers who work and live here… this is their everyday. And fingers crossed/pray to God, that the Hong Kong government does something to support all their endeavors.
Enjoy the rest of the photos!
Okay, so Chai Wan wasn’t the last stop. Arthur and I met up with DJ Angus Wong in Central to have a bit of classic Cantonese food at Lin Heung. (We were supposed to go to Ngau Kee, my favorite local cantonese dive, but this weekend they were closing shop and there was a line… so Lin Heung it is.)
I really miss Ngau Kee, but eating in Lin Heung is quite nice as well. The decor takes you back to mid-century life in Hong Kong. The food and sea-food is amazing as per usual. I love the Dim Sum here, but I think I prefer dinner where I can really appreciate the atmosphere and the old-style hospitality without the manic crowd.
Thanks to Chai Wan, Casa Capriz, and Lin Heung for being the light at the end of the dreary tunnel that was last week.
While the first part of Easter was spent quietly with family in the Philippines, I actually finished the last weekend of Easter Week in a different country altogether, for a third trip back to Thailand in Bangkok this year alone. The occasion was special, we went to celebrate the marriage of my friend, Jiki (above), with my sister, Bernadette (below), coming along for a chill weekend of sightseeing, shopping, and spa, just us three. And because Jiki never got a proper hen’s night pre-wedding, we thought we’d just do a last minute trip out to celebrate the nuptials.
It’s been a while since I’ve been on a proper trip with Jiki, and never with Bernadette since she moved to Hong Kong a couple of years ago. This was a great opportunity to bond and spend some quality time with my real sister, and my adopted sister….especially now that Jiki went from Ms. Jiki Lim to Mrs. Jiki Ford last month.
Good timing too. With proper holidays for easter and the husband being away back in London, well… I guess here we all are. Always eager to relax.
Overall, it was a pleasant couple of days back in a vibrant and creative city I love, which I’ve pretty much established in an epic post about Bangkok a few weeks ago.
Check out the view from our hotel room!
Almost a near perfect trip really, thanks to Pullman Bangkok Hotel G Silom and Medium Asia for hosting all of us for those two nights. I say “almost” because the taxi situation in Bangkok has gone from bad to worse. Good luck getting a cab with a driver willing to drive you with a meter on or to take you anywhere for less than 200 baht!
Speaking of taxis, as per usual, traffic in SIAM SQUARE is horrendous.
But the shopping in the Square itself… always a treat. Check out my new favorite brand, Common-T which I’ll do a post on soon.
And another #JJStyle kind of place, Headquarter The Fifth… which I think made it to this month’s issue of Monocle Magazine.
Beyond the square, in Siam Center across the street… of course there’s always Level 3 Thai Indendent Designers where everything is just divine. The girls did pretty well at PEDZ.
… and my favorite, Greyhound where Bernadette purchased this skirt.
Staff at Greyhound are just so slick.
I on the other hand, picked up a pair of camo swimmers from TIMO, my favorite brand of the moment at The Selected Boutique on Level 3.
It was a tough choice… especially with this number…
Word on the street is… TIMO is doing a collaboration with Hong Kong’s, Kapok. Now that news is just epic. Don’t believe me? Ask Arnault.
Meanwhile I had to stop by CONTAINER Bags to drool.
And then a quick nibble at Greyhound Cafe. (Much MUCH better in Bangkok than in Hong Kong, FYI. Cheaper too for better quality food.)
Other places we were able to check out on this trip for the first time… the Jim Thompson Outlet! There are two of them in Bangkok, with one location only two blocks from the Pullman Hotel we stayed in. I was so excited I lost my wallet between getting out of the taxi and getting into the shop. Not so “outlet” after all.
We also went to check out a brand spankin’ new, family friendly, Drag Show at the Calypso Theatre at Asiatique, Bangkok’s new version of Marina Bay Sands on the river. Everything was a complete homage to cabaret and Hollywood-esque stage spectacles from the 20’s to 50’s. Very glam. And very talented these women.
The best thing about our hotel is the 24-hour burger joint on the ground floor, called 25 Degrees, a concept imported from the Los Angeles original located within the Roosevelt Hotel.
We ate here very late, and had breakfast here very early a few hours later.
I loved our hotel. It was chic. And the staff was even chicer.
While having sunset drinks at the roof top bar, Scarlett, a wine and cheese tapas bar run by 2 Star Michelin Chef, I bumped into a friend of mine, Pao Patpongpibul, who is the mother of a uni friend. Pao owns a hospitality interior design firm in Bangkok called P49 DEESIGN… the same firm which gave the hotel its fresh look. They designed pretty much all the public areas, ie. all the lobbies and restaurants at the Pullman Bangkok Hotel G. It was great to catch up with Pao over a glass of wine.
Would I return to stay at Pullman Hotel G? Most definitely. From P49 DEESIGN’s amazing interiors, the hotel’s central location, on top of the excellent service, I would definitely return in heartbeat. Main advice… have the American Breakfast at 25 Degrees, and skip the hotel buffet. The buttermilk pancakes at 25 Degrees is really something else. Also make use of the Pullman “Welcomer”. They’ll take care of ALL your Bangkok concierge needs.
That’s all folks!
STAY Pullman Bangkok Hotel G / DRINK Scarlett Wine Bar & Restaurant / EAT 25 Degrees Burgers, Wine, and Liquor Bar / EAT Greyhound Cafe / WEAR Common-T / WEAR Headquarter The Fifth / WEAR TIMO / WEAR Greyhound / WEAR PEDZ / WATCH Calypso Cabaret / SHOP Jim Thompson Outlet