Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Style
Even during the current global economic downturn, Oriental Living is still flourishing.


Samui StyleIt’s a tricky business, building a house. Once you have the land and foundations sorted, it’s time to think about furnishing and decorating your new palace. This can be harder than it sounds, as you wrestle with not only curtain and sofa choices but colour schemes and style as well. This is where Michael Dietvorst comes in; a man who fell in love with and settled on Samui 22 years ago.


Michael owns Oriental Living in Maenam, a shop specialising in Asian furniture, interiors and art, and where all furniture is hand-made to a customer’s design. The business started out in 1999 as a showroom in Chaweng where he still lives, and has been on the Maenam ring-road since 2005. It’s come a long way from when Michael first arrived on Samui on his first trip to Asia all those years ago and knew almost right away that this is the place he wanted to be. A couple of years of hard work back home in Holland followed before Michael came back to Samui for good.


So why interiors, and how did a career in fashion and hospitality in Amsterdam lead to establishing one of the most highly-regarded furniture and interiors shops on Samui?


“I love being able to be creative and transform a space,” Michael says. “When I was younger, I was always changing interiors – it drove my mum crazy. So, even though I was in fashion and hospitality back home in Holland, this is something that worked well for me from the start. We started off just as a gallery, somewhere to buy upmarket souvenirs, but then it just grew.”


And it’s been growing ever since. You’d think that with the much publicised economic downturn around the world people wouldn’t be building second homes in Thailand as much as before, but Oriental Living is about to open another shop in Phuket to keep up with demand. Michael’s been in the business for over 20 years and has seen styles come and go, but for Oriental Living, things stay fairly stable.


“There are trends in business and it can go up and down,” he says. “But it was when I was working in my restaurant in Chaweng that I was very aware of when the busy times where and which nationalities were coming to Samui, and when. This type of business is different and we’re busy most of the time. May and June are our quiet months when we don’t get so many walk-in customers, but we still do a lot of business with our web shop. And when we open in Phuket in October, it will be high season there even though it will be low season on Samui.”


If the thought of adorning your new space is overwhelming you and you don’t know where to start, Michael and his team offer ‘interior packages’, where they can come out to your newly-built home and advise on décor and style – then help you design and choose everything you need. Have to go back to your home country whilst your dream house is being built here on Samui? No problem – Oriental Living will take over managing the work whilst you’re away, whether that’s chasing up contractors or just keeping an eye on how things are going. Or maybe you just want a new bed or a dining room table – send in a rough sketch or picture of an item you like, and Michael and his team will design and manufacture the furniture according to your specifications and budget.


For the past two or three years, the interior packages have been extended to hotels, which has played a big part in keeping business thriving. Whether it’s fully furnishing a new hotel or just giving it a facelift with some new pieces, Michael consults with the owner or manager, gives his advice and works with them until the hotel is full of the quality furniture Oriental Living specialises in.


“We have factories in Indonesia and Bangkok, so we’re well placed to order and provide furniture for hotels as well as homes,” Michael says. “For hotels especially, it’s important to use high quality furniture, to cope with sand, the sun, people sitting on it in wet clothes ... there’s no point buying something cheap you’ll have to replace a year later. Our furniture is of high enough quality that it doesn’t have to be replaced, so it’s more economical in the long run.”


For anyone who already has their house furnished, but just wants something stylish to finish it off, Oriental Living quality also extends to artwork and ornaments. The Asian art on offer includes Buddha statues, Burmese and copper statues, lacquerware and antiques, all meticulously crafted with individual attention to detail. For furnishings, you can shop by fabric type or colour, or just pick the room you want to transform, whether it’s kitchen, bedroom, office or dining room.


And if you’re just visiting Samui, but want to get a unique piece of furniture for your place back home, there’s no need to wait around until your designed piece is finished, as Michael will oversee the process for you and have the piece shipped. You can even design and buy your furniture online once you get home, browsing the site for ideas and chatting to Michael on the Oriental Living messenger for inspiration. The furniture is sold directly from the factory, so discounts of 40 or 50 per cent are the norm, and Michael will arrange shipping of your new piece to Russia, Europe, New Zealand, the USA or wherever you happen to be.


It’s good for Michael, of course, that business is still booming despite the worldwide economic downturn, but it’s also good news for anyone living on Samui who wants to furnish their house, or for hotel and resort owners wanting to give their place a facelift. Oriental Living offers a definite Samui style right across the board, with Michael expertly overseeing it all.


Laura Canning


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