SookSiam centrepiece for IconSiam
IconSiam will showcase the best products, services and artistic creations from Thailand’s 77 provinces in a single exciting destination when the massive THB 54 billion (US$1.7 billion) riverside landmark development opens later this year.
Called SookSiam, the retail space will take up 15,000sqm of the ground floor of the massive shopping destination being built on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.
The THB 700 million (US$22.4 million) SookSiam is expected to attract 21.9 million visitors, annually, and introduce a new retail concept to Thailand which IconSiam calls “co-creation”.
Chadatip Chutrakul, IconSiam director and Siam Piwat CEO, promises SookSiam will be “an immersive, emotional and entertaining” drawcard to the mall.
“It is a part of IconSiam’s commitment to bring all that makes Thailand great to the world’s attention. It will help small enterprise owners, artisans, artists, and performers who are local heroes from around the country access a globally visible, omni-channel platform on which to showcase their creations and become integrated into a greater commercial ecosystem. This will help local heroes become national heroes and global heroes,” she says.
“SookSiam is conceived as a place that will present the cultural heritage of the four main geographic regions of Thailand, capturing their arts, handicrafts, performing arts, and local wisdom. Within SookSiam are outlets of varying types that are built in the style of their respective regions, and which offer regional specialties, whether they be crafts, foods, beverages, or services that are unique to that region.
“We have layered on top of this a completely new, emotional dimension by letting visitors experience the stories behind everything they see, and we let them know about the people involved with each place, product, and service at SookSiam. It makes the offerings at SookSiam exciting and meaningful, and the destination very much more engaging because of the deeper knowledge that visitors will have about all that is around them,” says Chutrakul.
Local builders drawn from each region will construct SookSiam and more than 200 artists have been commissioned to decorate it.
“Their involvement in the creation of the regional zones has been the key to making the entire destination impeccably faithful to the artistic heritage of the localities and in a way that could only be done by a truly local person,” she says.
“What’s never been done before and what makes SookSiam truly unique is its authenticity.
The outlets at SookSiam are real stores that all also exist in towns and villages around Thailand and which have been transposed into SookSiam. They are small mom-and-pop operations that are famous in their localities but which have never had a chance to present themselves to a wider national or global audience. They are stores with real, extraordinary stories and real, multi-generational legacies that are rooted in their respective local communities,” says Chutrakul.
“SookSiam is like a window into every province and into every corner of Thailand. People can see, feel, and experience with their every sense the true heart and soul of each locality.”
She believes the destination will help every Thai and foreign visitor connect with and admire products, recipes and artistic creations that are the result of dedication and accumulated knowledge built up through generations.
“Because of this, the destination has an emotional dimension that comes from the lives and life stories behind everything present at SookSiam. It is a very moving experience because it honours the heritage of so many great people who have been a living part of our culture and of Thainess, but who have been hidden from view. Nothing like this has ever been done in Thailand before,” she says.
SookSiam is being produced and curated by Luckana Naviroj, who is known for her expertise in sourcing authentic products and foodstuffs from around Thailand.
Naviroj said the outlets in SookSiam all have a real counterpart in small towns in Thailand, and that many of them are enterprises that have been operated by several generations of the same family.
“We travelled the entire country to find these unique shops, artisans, and artists, and invited them into SookSiam, which will serve as an extraordinary platform onto which people – the “local heroes” from around the country – can place their talents and products, and draw global attention as well as expanded sales opportunities, 365 days a year.
“Thai and foreign visitors to SookSiam will have the opportunity to experience or purchase some genuinely exciting and special offerings which have been hidden away in towns and villages around Thailand,” she says.
Preserving the nation’s heritage
Naviroj says helping these small operators will help preserve Thailand’s cultural heritage and the rapidly disappearing Thai way of life.
“SookSiam offers a platform that will help the next generation turn their legacies into bigger enterprises that can challenge and reward them enough for them to continue in their families’ proud traditions while preserving Thailand’s priceless cultural heritage at the same time. Without an opportunity to expand their businesses and become part of a greater commercial ecosystem, or for artists and artisans to attract more sponsors, the next generation will, almost certainly, abandon their occupations and turn to new sources of employment leading to the loss, forever, of our cultural heritage and the way of life that has defined what it means to be Thai.”
Meanwhile, Chutrakul says SookSiam is the first example of a new retail approach called “co-creation” around which the entire IconSiam development is designed.
“Everyone involved with IconSiam, whether they be outlets selling products, or designers and artists showcasing their creations, are an inseparable part of our business model and our design and development process. IconSiam is being created in collaboration with thousands of tenants and other partners. SookSiam represents that co-creation concept perfectly because everything special being presented at SookSiam is actually created by someone somewhere else in Thailand. We ‘co-create’ with them by adding our knowledge of consumer preferences and supporting them with innovation as well as retailing and marketing techniques based on our insights into the needs of Thai and foreign visitors. We also assist them in ‘curating’ the selection and presentation of their offerings at SookSiam, all in a way that is consistent with the government’s Thailand 4.0 program to help people add value to their intellectual property and proprietary skills,” she concludes.
IconSiam will open in the last quarter of this year.