Vincent Van Duysen

Central: The Original Store . Bangkok


Vincent Van Duysen . photos: © DOF Sky|Ground

Thailand’s leading retailer Central Group announces the launch of Central: The Orig- inal Store, a new culture station located at the Group’s original general store building in Bangkok’s Charoen Krung district. Central: The Original Store is a revival of the brand’s storied retail lineage; it bridges the past and the present, paying homage to the retail brand’s roots by offering content that links the building’s mid twentieth century origins and its history with contemporary lifestyle offerings.

Back to the Origin – The original store was the very first asset bought by Central Group’s founders, father and son Tiang and Samrit Chirathivat, in 1950 on Charoen Krung Road Known for their imports of Western books, magazines and products, this store was a place where Bangkok people and foreigners came for imported goods, ideas and inspiration from abroad, becoming a portal to the world and a source for international culture for Thai people. Along with its neighboring jazz bars and restaurants, this store was one of the key establishments that made Charoen Krung, known as Bangkok’s New Road, the most cosmopolitan street of its time.

In October 2020, the launch of t he new Central: The Original Store revives this 1950s legacy within a contemporary context. Central: The Original Store is the new cultural hub that offers specialty books and merchandise, a library, exhibition and event space, restaurant, café and music bar a gathering place for Bangkok’s new urban generation. Central: The Original Store Central: The Original Store is comprised of a small complex anchored by the main 5 storey building connected by a courtyard to an antique 2 storey house. The structure has been re imagined by renowned Belgian minimalist architect Vincent Van Duysen, and is his first project in Southeast Asia.

Level 1 on the ground floor features a shop selling vintage magazines, lifestyle books about the era, Cenrtral: The Original Store souvenirs, a café and music bar, reflecting the store’s history of selling books, magazines and imported goods.

Level 2 features the new Kolophon Retail Library, with more than a thousand book titles and modern digital databases covering food, fas hion, design and business stories. Celebrating Central’s legacy as a pioneer and continuing leader of Thailand’s retail industry, The Kolophon Retail Library is Bangkok’s first library de- voted to retail history, education and learning, and is a knowledge a nd resource center for retail business. Levels 3 and 4 are exhibition and event spaces.

Level 3 presents Central Space, a venue for Central stories and temporary exhibitions. Currently on display is ‘The Origins of Central Since 1950’, which recounts and reimagines the stories of Central Group’s history since its early days at Central Trading Co., Ltd. Both Levels 3 and 4 are open to various event possibilities, including art exhibitions and openings, performances, meetings and social gatherings. Level 5 is the home of the new Aksorn Thai restaurant, Michelin star Chef David Thompson’s first restaurant to open in Bangkok in over 10 years. Featuring mid twentieth century recipes from the chef’s personal collection of vintage Thai recipe books, Aksorn Restaurant highlights old time recipes from the chef’s archives, featuring a new menu every three months. Aksorn’s interiors, designed by Japanese design studio Tripsters, evokes the mood of a diner from the 1950s era.

The courtyard does double duty as a plac e to enjoy coffee and meals by day and music by night. When evening falls, the space transforms into Siwilai Sound Club, where live jazz music evokes the energy of The New Road golden era, when Charoen Krung Road buzzed with jazz bars and an international beat that attracted the city’s cool crowd. With timeless interiors conceptualized by Japanese design studio Tripsters, with over 1,000 vinyl records Siwilai Sound Club is a destination for music aficionados to enjoy a ground floor that hosts live bands, an d a second floor completely devoted to vinyl, that will host vinyl only DJs.

Reviving the Roots of Bangkok’s Multicultural District – True to its roots, Central: The Original Store sets new firsts that move this district forward as a place for ideas and inspiration innovating Bangkok’s first retail library and retail knowledge center, and launching Michelin chef David Thompson’s first new restaurant in Bangkok in over a decade.

Central: The Original Store is where the old meets the new. An homage to Central’s founding era in the context of the modern day, reflecting the family’s aspiration to enhance the quality of life of Bangkok’s communities and its neighborhoods, bridging the culture and spirit of mid century Charoen Krung with a modern experience that welcomes all generations.