Travels : Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House Main

During my traveling I stopped off in Bangkok, Thailand. While there, I saw many interesting sites from gold plated temples to art museums and floating parks. One exceptional site I saw was the Jim Thompson house. 

It combined my love for fashion and design with 17th century architecture and excellent craftsmanship. 

Jim Thompson is not only an impressive fashion figure, renowned for his silk, but equal impressive is the building and its history in which Jim’s antiques and work sits.

About:

Jim Thompson was an American architect and businessman who was one of the main figures in helping revive the Thai Sink Industry. He pioneered the bright, vivid and detailed pattern we now know Thai silk to be.

A quote from TIMES MAGAZINE – “ … almost singlehanded[ly] saved Thailand’s vital silk industry from extinction.”

The House:

The house its self is a collection of Jim’s personal belongings and antiques. Six Thai houses (some over 100 years old) were dismantled and bought by boat from Ayutthaya and Bangkrua to Bangkok. They were then carefully assembled back to their original profiles. Jim Thompson added his own touch to some of the structures, for example raising floors above ground level or reversing wall panels. 

Visiting the house was special and felt to me like a little Oasis in the concrete jungle of Bangkok.

Manufacturing & Ethics:

He had an interesting supply chain strategy of ‘cottage based manufacturing’. He allowed the majority of his workforce – women –  to work from home. This meant they could continue their household duties, while also making an income. Subsequently, raising thousands of Thai families out of poverty and improving the standard of living for many rural communities. 

His take on business and manufacturing is something that I admire greatly and demonstrates that profit doesn’t have to come at the cost exorbitant extraction from the less fortunate. 

This is a lesson which I want to take forward throughout my career as a designer and in my personal life.