There’s an old Thai saying that sums up the difference between the two types of people: งานเสร็จหรืองานสมบูรณ์? I guess you could translate it like this “is the job complete or is it perfect”

We belong to the group that lives for the second answer to that question.  We wanted to collaborate with an established Thai brand with a strong heritage and when the opportunity presented itself with Lotus Arts de Vivre, we chased it all the way.  In this part of the world, Lotus Arts de Vivre is synonymous with extravagance and exclusivity; one of the oldest family-owned lifestyle brands in Asia. It’s crystal clear that their elaborate creations are a product of a meticulous pursuit of nothing short of sublime, tried and tested over and over throughout the generations.

In the early days and early talks of this potential collaboration, Sri Von Bueren kindly gave us an exclusive tour of the family’s traditional Thai teak houses and all the treasures collected, created and casually displayed within this rare way existence. 

Super low-key.  

The entrance to the estate is an unassuming (what essentially is the guard’s) door, quietly nestled amongst a vast array of flora, exotic birds and wildlife roaming the property.  

While in the pool (doing the backstroke) nonchalantly, you can’t help but notice the four sided backdrop of modern skyscrapers towering over the property, reminding you that we do live in the modern era and this place isn’t some time travelling vessel that’s neatly warped back a couple hundred years in time to this very moment. 

Taking a step back and noticing the vast difference in the usage of space, materials, and overall build quality: the contrast between the old and the very new is something that just throws us off balance (in a good way).

From the weathered teak wood of the estate and the strong contrast of the painted cement of the skyscrapers to the greens from the garden and the cold reflective windows of the corporate office towers, to the sheer size of the scrapers looming over this green patch of life.  I don’t know how to best describe it, but it’s so exclusively Bangkok.

 Inside p Sri’s Lanna style home is where things get really interesting, an eclectic mix of hand me down records, bongo drums, odd musical instruments, vaporizers, McIntosh audio equipment and 80s tube speakers, modern Dysons gadgets, collectable books, Asian antiquities and artifacts, military uniforms from another time period and less technologically developed war, furniture from his atelier, flamboyant graffiti works, trinkets collected from all corners of the globe and antique Tibetan carpets literally everywhere.  So personal and full of character!

The organized chaos of it all set in a very traditional Thai style layout is so timeless and the equally strong emotion of contrast automatically gets printed into your soul.  

The parti of the space is situated in the center of the living room where an elevated rectangular cabana that protrudes from the scuffed teak floor provides a peaceful space to relax, casually decorated with traditional Thai Leewadee Silk pillows nudging you to sit down and enjoy the conversation and the permanent sounds of P Sri working the turntables with his equally interesting mix of distinctive friends and family.

Seeing how the Von Buerens live, the factory can be best described as a natural extension to these Arts De Vivre (ways of life).  

Situated on the banks of the mystical Chao Phraya River, the complex is enormous and has an in-house gallery that would have most art institutions shaking their heads in confusion over the sheer size and wall space available.  Their factory is teeming with rare skills that will surely be replaced by a more modern solution with in this generation. 

  

From white gloved artisans delicately setting Scarab Beetle wings to some extravagant custom jewelry piece, to rock hard calloused hands carving petrified and rare pieces of wood into something with flair, to nifty wax carvers working the proposed shape to cast their trademarked material of choice: SILVER!  To leather workers hand stitching every single component of their marvelous creations. The talent and increasingly rare skills nurtured from a young age and passed down generationally that is needed to create this level of quality for the worlds Royal, Rich and Famous is all conveniently located here and ready to make your dreams come true. 

 

Our imaginations ran wild at the idea that we could help guide these rare talents into shaping and personifying our nonchalant, punk rock-fish and streamlined aesthetic into something beyond drastic and still very casual in its drama; a post-radical dream…

 

FLASH FORWARD… a year and a half later to D- day, the 11th hour, 2 minutes to midnight, P Sri summons us into the very same statically charged factory floor that zapped us into believers, putting together the bike when several parts fresh from the painters, chromers and polishers arrive, and of course, nothing fits.  Each component was fabricated to leave as little of a gap as possible and this eclectic mix of materials is proving to be experimental to say the least and very unforgiving to solidify the notion. Sterling Silver, Aluminum, Stainless and Damascus Steel, Siamese Crocodile, Galuchat and Cow Stomach Leather, Tigers Eye and so on… For Pete’s sake there’s even Japanese Silk thread used to stitch the Galuchat Leather grips!  Far out!

Anyway, p Sri is jumping around, ordering his most trusted guys to bend, break, borrow and steal to deliver, as in a few hours Bangkok’s elite, celebrities, taste-makers, artists, bloggers, heirs, playboys, models, CEOs, trusted advisors, media companies and visiting friends would be gathered, standing on Rolf Von Bueren’s (Dad) humongous 15 meter, 100 year old Oriental carpet reclaimed from a British Embassy.  Contrastingly styled with our Paulins, Pantons, Tramp Arts, Sottsass’, Prouves and Perriands. As our guests enjoy the best street crab noodle joint hired for the evening and freshly shucked oysters flown in that morning and as FVBKK mixes up their experimental Guava Bellini’s. Grooving to the first of three DJ sets of the night easing everyone into the imagined mood. Awaiting the unveiling of this creation that is housed under a 60 years old, nail-less, joint worked, Thai-Issan shingled structure and stage.  With customized lighting designed and fabricated by a mentor who prefers to remain in the shadows and the built up hype surrounding our unlikely partnership is all seconds away from disappointment and disaster. 

 

“Fuck it, let’s get to the party!”  We trusted that this is what all those years of experience of hosting events would pay off on Lotus’ side, after all… we had to jump on our bikes and zip across town to LHONG 1919 to arrange and decorate the space and welcome our first arriving guests.

Like the champion he is, p Sri got the bike formed and fitted, waxed and polished and up on the stage just 30 minutes before the show…  As we take a moment to recognize the magnitude of what just happened and contemplate the complexity of this creation fully formed and viewed (by the three) of us the first time, like a gang of rebel cousins at an awkward family reunion, we hit the bar in perfect sequence and quietly sigh with relief.

 

As the booze blankets our stomachs we find a few minutes to regroup, we share laughs and tell jokes about how last minute everything always is which settles the mood as dusk arrives.  We wait and wait but no one shows up, we keep waiting and soon realize that there are more staff than there are guests. More noise from the boats commuting people back home (after a long day of work) 50 meters away than that of our supposed unveiling party.  And then all of a sudden, like a black Friday sale in America, our guests explode onto the grounds. (Thank you dear friends for coming to support, it truly means everything to us <3)

 

Turns out everyone had been stuck in the same traffic jam on Sathorn Road on this end-of-the month Friday night.   Twiddling their thumbs, rocking to the same current in the sea of cars that makes up our home, Bangkok.

 

The success of the night has to be attributed to the new friends we made through this collaboration, Sri, Nikki, Rolph, Oppas and last but not least, our legendary friend Pooh.  Who with his lightning fast reflexes stopped the last attempt of KETO to escape from the stage and slither back to the dark underworld from which he spawned from. In another reality and far different scenario, the bike would have tipped over, caught fire, and burned down the entire space, killing everyone, all because of the onslaught of guests that just wanting to get a picture with this handsome villain.  But you saved it! Thank you man. 

As I write this piece that is now well overdue, I can’t help but time travelling back to the moment when we first proposed this collaboration with big brother Lotus Arts de Vivre.  The positive experience of working together and the dynamite enthusiasm needed to create something this pure and void of any shortcuts has to be attributed to the shared vision and approach to craft, creation and these art de vivre. This relaxed state of mind and tireless work ethic has ignited something truly magnificent and original.  A fire breathing and water slithering mechanical showstopper that is a perfect example and product of the unequivocal right answer to the question that began our quest in the first place “PERFECTION”  

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