A metal craftsman who’s been in the business for decades mounts glazed celadon and steel “bamboo” – a commissioned project from the Siam Celadon brand that will later be installed in a nearby teahouse once perfected – a group of British academics meet with Chiang Mai makers to discuss how to build a more sustainable future for the local creative community, a young couple comes in for coffee with the obligatory cameras around their necks to capture the picture-perfect cappuccinos against concrete walls and terrazzo counters.
It may sound like an eclectic mix of people all under one roof, but it’s just a typical Thursday morning at Weave Artisan Society in Chiang Mai. Housed in a former ice factory, the multi-functional creative space is breathing new life into the crafts-focused Wualai district immediately south of Chiang Mai’s walled old city.
Originally home to Chiang Mai’s silversmiths and jewellery artisans, Wualai has an extensive history of handicrafts yet, over the years, has become a little stale, relying on traditional trades that don’t appeal as much to modern audiences.
Weave is trying to bridge that divide between traditional Thai handicrafts and contemporary design, long-held customs and new-found appreciation, local artisans and foreign audiences, wizened experts and young generations. It’s a space where local artists, craftsmen, designers and makers can meet a broad creative community to exchange knowledge and celebrate beautiful design as well as the design process itself. Not only do the activities, exhibitions, workshops and events constantly change, drawing from the talents and inspiration of a variety of artists and makers, but the space itself always appears different, marking just one more way Weave is trying to continually attract and bring in the community – whether it’s local students or first-time foreign visitors to Chiang Mai. It’s always a fresh experience.
Upon stepping through the three-storey-high doorway, one immediately senses the creative energy coursing through the space. To the left, a small florist outpost from Les Fleurs Fac invites guests to create their own bouquets, while design and architecture magazines are spread throughout seating areas for visitors to draw inspiration from as they sip on espresso from Taste Atelier. Separated by a sheer curtain, a centre platform is often used for workshops or small group discussions while the back of house provides workspace for whatever installation or project is currently in the works. Climbing the stairs to the second level offers a view over the entire space as well as an ongoing collaboration with Life is Plantiful, an initiative to share plant-based wisdom, healing and crafts.
After only a few months of officially being open, Weave has welcomed a variety of artists and organisations, ranging contemporary Thai artists and TedX Chiang Mai coordinators, to chocolatiers and musicians. A recent event for World Clean-Up Day showcased Weave’s inclusive, multi-dimensional community efforts incorporating a volunteer clean up with Chiang Mai Clean City followed by learning about recyclable plastics and making up-cycled plastic products with Chiang Mai-based Bope, and live painting with local artist Tua Pen Not on recycled plastic canvasses that are now displayed at Weave. Starting in late-October, early-November a new schedule of regular classes and craft workshops run by in-house and guest makers will be geared toward culture-minded travellers visiting Chiang Mai to further connect with the local community and culture.
Open to the public every day from 9:00am – 6:00pm, Weave is also building up a nighttime programme as the space segues into the evening for private events, performances or even 80s-inspired “glam-aerobics.” There really is something for everyone.
The communal approach extends to Weave’s team as well. Try and get one of the co-founders, Julian Huang, to explain who’s actually behind Weave concept and you get a meandering answer. Though the seed of the idea may have come from one person, creating Weave has been a group effort over several years. With a core group of design-minded Southeast Asian and European founders, as well as different in-house teams managing events, artist liaisons, community involvement and F&B, many different people and backgrounds have a hand in Weave.
First and foremost, the team wants to create a space that could then take on a life of its own, shifting and evolving to meet the needs of the local community while different communities to meet – a goal that it seems to be already achieving as it slowly but surely weaves itself into Chiang Mai’s creative scene.
How to Visit
Weave Artisan Society is open every day from 9:00am – 6:00pm
Taste Atelier at Weave Artisan Society is open every day from 10:00am – 5:00pm
Check the website or Facebook Pages for current information, times and events.
Address: 12/8 Wualai Road Soi 3 T. Haiya, A. Muang Chiang Mai, Thailand tel.+66 062 046 3338