Samui Wining & Dining
The Loft ventures through Southeast Asia to bring you the latest in interior design.

The Loft ventures through Southeast Asia to bring you the latest in interior design.The style is funky, trendy, yet decidedly comfy and practical – it wows and cossets at exactly the same time. And it’s all a delight to the eye. Step into the store and you’ll soon be lost in contemplation. Each time you visit, there are dozens of striking artefacts to see, and sublime details that emerge as you look around. Just a few examples, seen on a chance Saturday afternoon: a ceramic plate features a blue octopus frozen in mid squiggle as it attempts to slip over the edge; a mirror made of mosaics beguiles with multiple tiny reflections; lamps built on giant seapolished pebbles invoke a rocky coastline, while a red mahogany cabinet from Beijing seems to channel a bygone imperial past.


The Loft is full of surprises both big and small, and some of the most enjoyable minutes of a day can be spent browsing the selection on offer. There’s always something new to see, something that catches the eye or inspires the mind. You can see as soon as you step inside, that the contents and the feel of the place are quite special. It’s the brainchild of Michael Dietvorst, the founder of Oriental Living. For years Michael and his team have catered to the island’s villas, apartments and resorts with a mix of creatively artistic furniture and furnishings and always high-grade quality. It’s been – and still is – a high-profile business and serves an unusually loyal clientele. Most decor lovers on the island are familiar with their work. And just as enchanting, their latest creation, The Loft, showcases a splendid yet casual array of items that are filled with flair.


The Loft is unmissable; it’s located right opposite Big C supermarket on the ringroad in Chaweng. It’s open from 9:30 am until 6:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays and from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm on Saturdays.


But it’s not just the contents that are special; the atmosphere itself is unique. As a creative launch pad, The Loft is rather different from the usual kind of interior decor store. You know how things usually proceed when you go shopping for furniture or furnishings; you step over the threshold of the store and an insistent salesperson pops up by your side, instantly ready to make a sale. You’re the customer,The Loft ventures through Southeast Asia to bring you the latest in interior design. and the faster the cash till rings your purchase up, the better. We have all been through this and gritted our teeth.


The Loft isn’t like that at all. For a start, you’re not viewed as a customer. You’re a guest. And as such, coming here is a lot more like visiting an art gallery, or some creative space that calls to be wandered around, savoured and of course – enjoyed. Actually, it’s even better than that. Have you ever been to an art gallery where the first thing that happens is that you’re warmly greeted and offered a cup of coffee?


That’s how it is at The Loft. And as you enjoy that coffee, you’re aware that the entire store doesn’t really look like one. It’s more like an openplan apartment with different areas, which you can take in at your leisure. It’s spotlessly clean and super contemporary, and definitely not stuffed to the brim with products to be sold. As such it’s unexpectedly relaxing.


Staff are on hand to help, not to stand intimidatingly close to you or wear you down with sales chat. Neither are they absent figures who you need to call over in loud tones if you need help. They’ve got the balance right. And a lot of that is to do with the personality of the person who’s running The Loft. Khun Wilai Raksai – though most people just call him Khun Alex. He embodies friendliness, and is a relaxing person to be around. He’s also equally knowledgeable. Ask him about the tiniest artefact in The Loft and he’ll be able to tell you all about it.


While I’m in the store, people come in to have a look around and most seem to know him already, and there’s the feel they’ve dropped in to a friend’s place. There’s certainly no pressure on anyone to buy anything, and because of that, people seem to include The Loft as somewhere to drop into when the mood takes them.Page58-3


And it’s definitely a good idea to do this. Again, this is the complete opposite of a store where the products sit for months, if not years, gathering dust, and where maze-like corridors lead through dull known-in-advance sections. It’s the opposite. The stock changes – frequently. It’s not mass-produced, and many of the items are hardto- find or impossible to re-order. “We go all round Southeast Asia looking for items for The Loft,” says Khun Alex. “For example, we travel to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and further north. It’s not about getting the same things in each time, either.


You have to leave your comfort zone – you have to go looking for the kind of things that are unusual and completely different; you have to go beyond the expected.”


The search takes them to unusual places, as you can imagine, and even as far afield as China. Once renowned for cheap and cheerful products, there are now places in China offering very high quality furniture with cutting edge designs at very affordable prices.


The store’s contents certainly suggest a great diversity and unusual charm. As we’ve said, what’s here today may not be tomorrow, or may simply have been replaced with something different. You’ll find large items such as sofas, beds and wardrobes and these have all been chosen for specific qualities – not just useful, but durable and outstandingly good-looking. Exactly what you want, in other words, when you think about filling your living space with beautiful furniture that’ll last for generations.


Khun Alex shows me an amazing teak table. “No need to have a guilty conscience,” he quips. “It’s recycled.” The wood shows the grain quite clearly and it definitely has a unique feel to it. Few people will have seen anything quite like it. There are also cupboards made of teak that look incredibly reliable as well as aesthetic. Sofas abound and are dotted here and there throughout the showroom. And then there are the beds.


“We get guests to lie on them, rather than just look at them or sit gingerly on their edges,” says Khun Alex. “I mean, how can you know if a bed’s good just by looking at it? And if you could, then how would you know if the mattress is just right for you?” It’s a good point. The Loft has various degrees of hardness when it comes to mattresses, so you can order the one that’s most suited to you. For sofas, the procedure’s the same: The Loft ventures through Southeast Asia to bring you the latest in interior design.try them out. Most stores will let you sit very carefully for a minute on their sofas, but here you’re encouraged to really see which one is best for you. It’s a hands-on approach. And of course, it works.


So what happens if you decide to buy a large item such as a bed? Khun Alex says the procedure’s exactly the same as the one that’s in place at Oriental Living. “The team will come and install it for you. They’ll also give advice on usage and how to protect it. Everything comes with a warranty, meaning there’s great peace of mind.” He adds that if a piece gets damaged through the fault of the owner, they can do repairs. “Virtually at cost price,” he says. “We like to make sure everyone is happy.”


The Loft is also the place where you can discuss the turn-key furnishing of a villa, apartment or resort. The experience that Oriental Living has in this area, together with the widening of their collection with all these new, exciting and affordable items, makes The Loft an ideal place to go for furnishing projects.


Khun Alex and his team speak excellent English, so there’s no language barrier. Staff know all the technical terms too. It’s a cinch therefore to discuss your requirements with them. And you’ll find they’ll always be happy to help and offer tailor-made solutions for you.


Immerse yourself in the world of The Loft, filled with a diverse treasure trove of beautiful furniture, furnishing and artefacts. Step into what might be a friend’s house to enjoy the best of creativity and style. Savour the strong, iconic look that The Loft is bringing to the island and be treated not as a customer but a guest.


 Dimitri Waring


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