As KPN LAND prepares to open the doors to its crown jewel, The Diplomat 39, Kantaluk “Ying” Hongladarom talks about how art, inspiration and a global education have inspired the project.
Amid a property boom on Sukhumvit 39, one project stands above the others: The Diplomat 39. To say the super-luxury, 31-storey property by KPN LAND is sought-after would be an understatement. Located on the doorstep of The EmDistrict, yet offering something of a sanctuary on this surging soi, The Diplomat 39 had more than 80 percent of its units swooped up within two months after the initial launch.
The project is now nearly ready to be unveiled, and anticipation is high. Behind the buzz, believes Kantaluk “Ying” Hongladarom, Chief Operating Officer of KPN LAND, is the company’s unique ethos.
“We believe in building homes,” says Ying, who is a cousin of Kris, Nop and Korn Narongdej, the three brothers at the head of family-run KPN GROUP. “We want you to feel that – whether it’s your first or second home, or even an investment – it’s not just a building. It’s part of you.”
Featuring Palladian-inspired architecture, as well as hand-selected artwork and a number of tasteful, discreet amenities, The Diplomat 39 is unlike any other home on the market. The property embraces a style that is at once timeless and adaptable to individual tastes. That style has sprung from the family’s penchant for travel, not to mention a balance of their world views.
“The Diplomat Collection is all about us being us – being well-travelled people, seeing different things, meeting different people, taking inspiration from everywhere. Kris has a vast interest in the classical side of things. I believe that form doesn’t follow function and function doesn’t follow form. Beauty shouldn’t be compromised by functionality or the other way around,” says Ying, adding with a laugh, “buildings shouldn’t be dated. We’re not big believers – especially myself – in trends. Not at all.”
They are, however, believers in practicality, a quality that has won over their clients. The majority of units in The Diplomat 39 features a foyer, for example, even one-bedroom units. This extra space – an uncommon feature in Bangkok condominiums – provides a subliminal break between the outside and inside worlds, as if to say, “welcome home”. The kitchens also come with sliding doors. This not only blocks out unsavoury smells, but allows the kitchen to look nicely tucked away.
Core amenities include shoe cabinets, ample wardrobes, TV cabinets and bathtubs in every unit. Apart from the penthouses, all rooms are fully-fitted, in fact, but Ying has been careful not to go beyond the point where residents can no longer express their own styles.
“Taste is a subjective thing, isn’t it? You should never impose yourself on people. As a developer, it’s our mission to build a good skeleton; how you dress it allows you to express yourself,” she says.
For Ying, who admits to favouring the disparate work of Canaletto and Modigliani, that might mean embracing a broader variety of art in her home. “I go for everything from modern art to Goya during the Revolution. Kris is very much into Renaissance art – he loves the Romantics,” she says.
To the whole family, art is an essential component to life, and Ying especially spends time encouraging creation. “It’s such a gift to be able to create something. Whether it’s a sculpture, a painting, or a written work,” she says. KPN LAND is now helping to propel Thai society toward a fuller future by incorporating and promoting the work of local artists. “We’re more like ambassadors, trying to introduce their abilities to more people and apply art to initiate discussion [of difficult or complex issues]. That’s what’s really lacking in society nowadays.”
For the hands-on Ying, however, the most important work has been ensuring that a sense of home has been realised at The Diplomat 39. “I go on site three or four times a week. I go under counters, make sure residents can actually change lightbulbs themselves, test the usage hours of materials, scratch materials to make sure they’re child-proof,” she says. “We look at how marble tiles are conjoined with wood, so that in the event that water does fall on the wood, we’ll know if it will seep into it. We go into those details. If we don’t do it, who does? It’s our responsibility.
“I like to approach things from a 360-degree angle, make informed decisions, and take responsibility for them. To me, the definition of luxury is that you can actually own your decisions. Luxury to me isn’t about monetary value – it’s about being able to take control of yourself.”
To the family-owned company, responsibility also means selecting partners who share the KPN worldview. “KPN LAND is an extension of us as executives. Everything we do is literally done out of the love for the product, the environment, the being, the creation of it. It’s very much us,” says Ying. “We work as a company because everything is so personal. At the same time, we are very particular about finding partners who share our mentality. We want them to truly believe in what they do.”
The Diplomat 39 is set to open in March 2018. Featuring one-, two- and three-bedroom units, as well as four penthouses, all ranging from 54-450 square metres in size, the property offers 156 units plus parking spots. While many of the units have been purchased, two penthouses remain on the market. For more information, visit kpnland.com.