This week in our ‘A Day at Home’ series, we head down to the creative district of Talat Noi, Charoen Krung. Sure, working from home can be healing for many, but at the same time, there is no denying that it’s not always glitz and glam here in Bangkok during this ‘not-lockdown’ lockdown. And who better can we talk to than 56th Studio‘s creative director, Saran Yen Panya?
Defining Saran Yen Panya is not easy. One may say that he is an artist and visual storyteller. Still, in the past few years, he’s also become the patron of ‘Charmgang Curry Shop’, a chicken shop named ‘CharmKai’, and started his storytelling and e-commerce platform called ‘The Continuum’. Now, he’s currently working on yet another venture: the tea shop ‘Citizen’ Tea Canteen. Just like his every other work, it will make you question what makes things posh or poor. It will be expensive craft meets country—or in his own joking words, “it’s going to be Pumpuang Duangjan on LSD”.
With so much on his pop-art Talat Noi plate, it’s not surprising that his day would be as colourful as his works.
08:30 or 11:00 I usually wake up at 8:30 during this not-lockdown period. I’ve been sleeping in a lot. Then again, that depends on the day. If I have a morning meeting, then I’d drag myself out of bed for that. The latest I’ve woken up during this WFH period is 11 a.m. However, I never go to bed earlier than 2 a.m., so it’s good that I get to have more sleep. If it was up to me, I’d rather sleep and not during anything at all on my free day. Sleep is the best kind of blessing one can have.
Recently I’ve taken on more commissions and projects from international clients, so the meeting time also varies a lot. For instance, meetings with my Canadian clients would often start at around 9 a.m., while the slots with my Vietnamese and Yangon clients are different to our local time by just one hour.
12:00 I don’t usually eat breakfast and would just merge that into lunch.
13:00 I do get to spend more time at home compared to before, though. About fifty per cent, I’d say. And I also do still pop into my office. We (my studio) have been working from home full-time, so nowadays it’s just me alone at the office.
14:00 Onwards When this third wave first started, and I still had to go out to meet the suppliers, I was in a super-panicking mode, like Naomi Campbell level when she was in that hazmat suit. I don’t care what people say; I only told myself I’m going to survive. Even now, some people might carry a bottle of alcohol spray or hand gels, but I carry them in bulk.
With the teashop (‘Citizen’ Tea Canteen) opening soon, I have to go in quite often to oversee the construction. Most of my afternoons are still spent at work—on site. I mean, I’m cleaning the windows during this phone conversation (laughs). The tentative date is around the middle of next month. Having to go out and about to say that I am paranoid would be an understatement.
15:00 Right now, I aim to complete about eight different things each day. I’d try to list out everything I have to do for the next day before I go to bed, and there’s always at least eight agendas I have to do per day. However, during this third wave, I try to limit the things I do to just about two things. I don’t want to travel a lot because I’m bloody scared of the virus. If I have to visit a site, I will try to limit it to one per day.
Besides the teashop, I sometimes have to pop down to Charmgang Curry Shop because we’ve just launched our latest brand, CharmKai, which literally translates into ‘chicken bowl’. It’s a fried chicken shop, and this brand was designed specially so that we can still keep going during this third wave.
19:00 During the second wave of lockdown, I tried to cook—but I was so terrible at it that I’ve given up and relied on getting deliveries instead, both from the app and also from Charmgang.
02:00 While my daily schedule may vary, one consistent variable in my life is my winding-down routine before bed. Like I said, I usually head to bed around 2 a.m., so before bed, I’d shut down, put my phone on airplane mode, make myself chamomile tea and put it on my playlist. And yes, not a tie-in, but the tea is a unique artisanal blend that’ll be in the teashop! On some nights, I might sneak in a glass of cocktail (laughs sheepishly). It’s a routine that helps me to unwind—if there are too many thoughts in my head, I can’t sleep.
While noting that this third wave has given him the liberty to spend more time at home and, along with that, more sleep and more room for love. However, there’s also a catch. “Financially, I think we are all more or less affected in different ways. However, for me, there’s also the part about mentality. Working in the creative field, being stuck at home has made me feel uninspired. I chose to open my studio in Talat Noi because I enjoy walking around and talking to the ama (grandmas) of the neighbourhood. That’s the only downside for me, I’d say.”
Charmgang and CharmKai are available for delivery. Visit Charmgang via Instagram and Facebook @charmgangcurryshop for the menus.
(All image: Saran Yen Panya)