In Chiang Mai’s temple-studded Old Town, one set of pointy roofs is not like the others. Built in wicker-patterned grey brick, the high-pitched gables of Kalm Village are a far cry from the gilded and jewelled gingerbread trims of its divine neighbours. The community here has swapped worship for workshops and put traditional artisans from Thailand on a pedestal.

Inside the Kalm Village store
Inside the Kalm Village store © DOF Skyground
A view from the second floor to the central courtyard of Kalm Village in Chiang Mai, Thailand
A view from the second floor to the central courtyard of Kalm Village in Chiang Mai, Thailand © DOF Skyground

“We wanted to create a space that would bring people together through the love of art, craft and culture,” says creative director Achariyar Rojanapirom, who opened Kalm Village with her brother Araya in the spring of 2021. 

Children of architects, the siblings grew up in a wooden Thai house on the outskirts of Bangkok that was brimming with hand-woven textiles and local wickerwork. It was there that they first learnt the value of craft. “The only way to ensure the survival of our ancestral wisdom is to bring craft back into our everyday lives,” Achariyar says. “Kalm is our way to play a small part in passing on the things that give our lives depth and richness.”

Local ceramics for sale
Local ceramics for sale © Kalm Village
Clothes and homewares in the shop
Clothes and homewares in the shop © Kalm Village

The pair settled on Chiang Mai, where they have roots, and with the help of their family’s Bangkok-based design firm, conceived a small village of eight distinctively Thai buildings made from reclaimed teak and handmade brick. As in every Thai hamlet, each building holds a specific function: there’s a library of books on local history and contemporary design; a coffee house and an archive of ikat sarongs, silk weavings and other textiles from all corners of the country. A gallery space hosts rotating exhibitions on everything from historical northern Thai fabrics to crafts made from recycled plastic waste. Two tree-lined courtyards host talks and workshops by craftspeople and designers.

The Kalm Village archive room
The Kalm Village archive room © DOF Skyground

Spread over three and a half buildings, the boutiques stock suitcase-friendly homewares sourced from across Thailand. There are handpainted bamboo umbrellas created in partnership with Chiang Mai’s oldest umbrella-making community (£115), two-tone woven reed mats from Yasothon in north-east Thailand (from £35) and mugs, matcha bowls and plates from a local ceramic studio (from £11). The largest boutique holds textile goods, with racks filled with hand-stitched linen shirts (from £32), indigo tie-dye tees (from £30) and chequered drawstring pants made from pa kao ma fabric from north-eastern Thailand (from £20). 

The reception building
The reception building © DOF Skyground
Kalm’s private collection of antiques on display with the products
Kalm’s private collection of antiques on display with the products © Kalm Village

While the focus lies on local crafts, the siblings also look beyond the kingdom for inspiration. “People have been migrating, bringing along their stories and practices, since the dawn of time,” Achariyar says. Cross-cultural collaborations have resulted in some of the store’s most colourful capsule collections, including sarongs and camisole dresses block-printed in Jaipur and collared shirts from kaleidoscopic Indonesian batik. “We want our guests to see parts of themselves through things that came from across the border.” 

Earlier this year, a ninth building flanking the entrance pavilion opened as the Museum of Makers. This shoppable showroom was inspired by the work of the Loewe Foundation, which forges connections between traditional artisans and forward-thinking designers. Soon, the Rojanapiroms will stock homewares and apparel made with a Hmong community in Payao and vases melding the crafts of a local ceramic studio and bamboo weavers in northern Thailand. “This region is blessed with so many craft communities, but some are stuck in the past,” says Achariyar. All that’s been missing is “a creative matchmaker”. 

Kalm Village, 14 Soi 4 Prapokklao Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand;

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