October 29, 2018
A hotbed of craft and creativity, Siem Reap is home to a vibrant community of artists, designers and makers both local and global. Here are a few of the town’s top spots repping Cambodian art and artisans.
Fresh from an extensive nip/tuck, this demure boutique bower near Wat Polanka channels Indochine nostalgia and modern comfort while showcasing a handpicked selection of artisan-made furniture plus Khmer art, textiles and collectibles. Opt for no less than a pool suite, which provides elegant respite with jumbo-sized beds, steam rooms and a choice of plunge pool or Jacuzzi (go for the latter for complete privacy), plus beck n' call service, but natch.
Outside your chamber, there’s a pretty Banyan-shrouded pool with yoga sala perfectly posi’d for a post-temple flop, massage and wellness at the Spa and the hotel’s centrepiece: a handsome, lofty ceilinged mezzanine restaurant/bar serving mod Khmer-Euro bites, afternoon tea and craft ‘tails. Round out the experience by booking one of the beautiful vintage cars for your temple ride – I say!
A long time Siem Reap resident, Madagascan-born, Paris-trained couturier Eric employs more than 40 weavers, embroiderers, crocheters and tailors, while all the silk used for his collections is hand-dyed at his home. Pop to his swish atelier just off Charles de Gaulle Blvd to browse the rainbow range of scarves, gowns and bags; the colourful designs are heavily influenced by Eric’s homeland, while referencing Angkor and Asia, and imbued with European finesse. Better still, book a private jaunt with Siem Reap Art Tours to snag a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the atelier hosted by charismatic Eric himself. Priceless.
A 10-min tuk-tuk drive from Eric Raisina is this labyrinthian compound set around a pretty garden that’s part artist's residence, part studio, part gallery and part shop. Venture inside to discover the wonderful world of Takeo-born, French-trained artist Lim Muy Theam, whose collections of traditional folk-inspired, artisan-made carved elephants, lacquerware and paintings are accompanied by exhibits of his artworks and Khmer musical instruments. Shopportunity awaits at the expansive onsite store. Go late afternoon for a better chance of having the place to yourself.
Luscious precious stones sourced from Cambodian provinces are transformed by Khmer-French jewellery designer Ly Pisith into nature-inspired silver bijouterie. Think: glossy aquamarines, citrine and smoky quartz moulded into delicate lotus-shaped necklaces and Angkorian-inspired ear chandeliers. Order a custom piece, or pick up pieces to go from one of the two boutiques in Old Market or Kandal Village.
For jewellery veering an edgier aesthetic, Ammo is your go-to. Founded by British designer Madeline Green in 2013, this studio-slash-social enterprise trains local Cambodian creatives in the art of making jewellery from spent brass ammunition cases (geddit?). The striking, modern collections of pendents, wrist cuffs and earrings riff on Khmer influences with names like ‘Temples’ and ‘Deities and Demons’, while custom pieces have been created for several European brands as well as Angelina Jolie and the crew of ‘First They Killed My Father’. Book one of the excellent jewellery workshops to forge your own (albeit simpler) masterpiece.
Planning a Siem Reap adventure? Don't forget to take a copy of the LUXE Cambodia guide...
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