Field Notes:
People of Nang Loeng

Date: 07 Nov 2022
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
By: Felix Ng (Anonymous)
This year, Anonymous turned 17.

During this time we went through 3 shifts.

The first was in 2009 when we decided to divide our time equally between designing for clients and designing for the public. This led to the creation of A Design Film Festival, Bracket,, as well as other exhibitions and events.

The second happened in 2016. Our focus moved from graphic design to cultural research, strategy and marketing, which led to the launch of Uniqlo flagship stores and campaigns in Southeast Asia.

Our third shift is happening right now with the opening of our first international outpost — in Nang Loeng, a quiet neighbourhood in old Bangkok.

Nang Loeng

Nang Loeng was a bustling trading port more than 100 years ago. Today, it’s transformed from a crowded commercial area into a quiet residential suburb, and is best known for the Nang Loeng  Market, a historical centre for traditional Thai food — especially Thai desserts. Part of the neighbourhood’s charm lies in its clean and quiet streets, full of colonial architecture and shops selling traditional dishes, goods and services. Despite being so close to the popular Khao San Road and Yaowarat, Nang Loeng is still largely unknown and rarely explored by Thai youths or tourists.

As we take root in Nang Loeng, we wondered how we could exist with our neighbours in a meaningful way, to help their businesses; and learn more about the neighbourhood.

So we created People of Nang Loeng, a guide to the neighbourhood told through photo essays and short interviews with its people. The goal: to raise awareness of the place and to drive people there.

Many place-making efforts suffer from over-enthusiastic attempts to disguise an old place with the same old solution — over-branding. More specifically, ‘updating’ heritage with contemporary graphics, and traditional typography with a ‘modern edge,’ in the hopes of appealing to a new audience… It all kind of feels like false advertising to us.

Our approach for this project, as with many of our other cultural research projects, is simple.

  1. Show the place as it is. Dressing it up with over-enthusiastic graphics or witty taglines are unnecessary.
  2. Focus on the ‘Originals’. The people who have been in place and in the place for years, who continue to serve the community every day through their tireless dedication and craft.

So instead of featuring the 1000th cafe serving a specialty brew, we shine the spotlight on Aunty Aeow and her coffee shop, where coffee is still prepared with the traditional coffee sock. And instead of showing off another restaurant offering “an European twist on traditional Thai cuisine”, we highlight Hua Hin Pochana, a Thai-Hainanese restaurant with a 70-year history.

Not everything needs to be new or loud for it to be seen.

Sometimes, all it needs is a shift in focus.

Find @peopleofnangloeng on Instagram.