COO of Raimon Land and property mogul Korn Narongdej shares his views regarding the luxury real estate market, investing in property, and building homes for the future.
If you personified luxury real estate developer Raimon Land, few would be as fitting a poster-face as the polished and charming Korn Narongdej. The youngest son of the renowned Narongdej family, Korn is no stranger to the spotlight, and is often associated with KPN Group — an automotive manufacturing, investments, property, and entertainment empire that was originally founded by his parents.
Today, he sits at the helm of Raimon Land PCL, having recently been appointed as the Chairman of the Executive Committee, and COO of the company back in September. With four key projects currently under his wing, the young and highly-accomplished executive is excited to bring a new energy to the 33-year-old property giant. We sat down with him to hear his views on the current luxury market, the returns of investing in property, and how he plans to add innovation and quality to the homes of the future. Here’s what we learned.
Spending Power Isn’t Limited to Older Generations Anymore
With plans to lead Raimon Land into the future, Korn aims to inject a high-tech allure to Bangkok’s ever-changing cityscape. At the core of his strategy, is a new approach to what the company represents. “We’re working on rebranding Raimon Land to be more modern,” he explains, “to come across as more youthful and energetic. Back in the day, it was mostly older generations who could afford luxury condos, but today there are a lot of career-oriented and successful people in their 20s or 30s who have that spending power. We want to be among the first choices for this emerging target group.”
Your Home Represents Who You Are
“A home is no longer just a place where you live,” Korn tells us, explaining that times have changed. “It’s also your entertaining space, so it must be truly functional. People want that wow factor within their own homes. Even if it’s not within their own unit, then at least in the public areas, so we try to add in some gimmicks in each place. Apart from its functions, it also needs to be a space people are proud to live in, and over time it will become an exclusive community. Every part of the unit is remarkable, and meant to be shared in some way.”
The Real Estate Market Is Changing
Korn’s views on the meaning of a home are well-reflected in the four projects he currently spearheads. The Lofts Silom on Pramuan Road, for instance, comes complete with high ceilings and duplexes that stretch up to six metres tall, along with resort-style services. “Even though you are in the middle of Silom, once you are within the building, it feels like a getaway from all the hustle and bustle outside,” Korn points out, and the Silom life he describes seems a far cry from the usual imagery we’re accustomed to. “During sunset, you can also see all the way to the Chao Phraya River from the higher floors.”
While The Lofts is ready to be occupied, another project is currently under construction nearby. Dubbed TAIT 12, Korn admits this is a personal favourite, due to the way its striking slanted tip will cut across the skies once complete. The highlight, however, is Raimon Land’s latest super luxury high-rise condominium — The Estelle Phrom Phong. Rising from the front end of Sukhumvit 26, amidst Bangkok’s Japanese community, the high-end residence is the result of a partnership with one of Japan’s largest developers, Tokyo Tatemono. Offering a set of unique facilities catering to a Japanese mindset, the residence comes complete with onsen pools, hot and cold plunge pools, and floatation pools. Taking service-minded details to the next level, there are even bedrooms available for rent, catering to cases where private units are too small for entertaining visitors. Add to that the basics of every luxury condominium‚ cue super-car parking, private elevators, and attentive butler service, and you have a living experience quite unlike any other.
Smart Buildings are the Way to Go
Marking the start of a new era, Raimon Land is also taking on its first-ever office building project — Once City Centre. Right across the street from Central Embassy, the entire building is scheduled for completion in 2022, and is being planned with Instagrammable spots in mind, while incorporating smart technology. “We intend for it to be Bangkok’s new landmark,” he says with pride, admitting that the whole company is rather excited for this smart-building. “In fact, our brief was that if a tourist had only three nights in Bangkok, one of those nights had to be spent at this building. The top floors will be home to sky dining consisting of business lunches, casual dining, and a bar for viewing sunsets.”
Tech-wise, the office building will come complete with car-plate and facial recognition systems, implemented to minimise human touch — a growing necessity amidst these strange, pandemic-ridden times. Korn insists that innovations of convenience have always been a key standard that the company is striving towards, and that the safety and health of their buildings’ inhabitants will always come first. “Even if and when Covid-19 is over, there’s no denying that future viruses will still spread through touch. It’s an age where people are reluctant to touch anything anymore, so using technology can help with that. When it comes to the luxury sector, things like private elevators are necessary because people want to social distance.”
The Property Market Can Have Pretty Good Returns
Interestingly, Korn’s love for real estate and interiors did not just gradually grow on him, but was something that he’d known clearly since childhood. In fact, his dexterity for gaining profits from real estate began since he was still a student in the UK, when he was studying Business Administration at Webster University. His mother had given him a sizable sum of money, which he was free to use, but had to last him until graduation. “At first, I bought bonds and invested in stocks, but I felt that the property market had better returns. So I started looking at flats, buying them and renovating them. Some I lived in, some were rented out, and some sold off. It became a hobby since then, and it’s become something I enjoy and love to this day.”
Later, after two years spent in Banking stints at Lehman Brothers and Merill Lynch in Bangkok, followed by a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management at the London School of Economics, this passion for property once again reared its head. His father had challenged him to make something out of his passion, and he responded by building a low-rise boutique condo on Sukhumvit Soi 39 — a professional achievement he’s still very proud of today. “At the time, condos with facilities like those of a hotel were still quite novel. We sold all 24 units within two months and, most importantly, it was all to people I didn’t even know personally. These customers were happy and have returned to us over the years to buy further properties.”
You Can Get Creative with How You Promote Property
While Korn never doubted his love for real estate, he’s still adamant that life is about trying out different things — a philosophy he tries to pass onto his nephew and niece, twins Pat and Pim, with whom he shares a very close relationship. “I always tell them don’t say you don’t like anything until you’ve tried it out first. When I worked on property, I felt it was something I loved most and couldn’t possibly do anything else. But when I did entertainment, it was another angle of fun I experienced. You never know whether you will like it or not and, either way, it will always give you experiences and new knowledge. In the entertainment world, I got to know how things were done there, and now I try to adapt those ideas to use in promoting property, such as how to make your marketing approach more sassy and young.”
Luxury Should Engulf All the Senses
“When you see it, and touch it, you must be able to feel the luxury,” Korn says simply, when asked for a personal definition. “Like how polyester and silk are completely different. It’s not about the price tag either, because some dishes do not have any expensive ingredients, but you can taste how much creativity and effort went into making it.”
This eye for detail, and approach is something he extends into the vision of Raimon Land. “We don’t want to compete with price point, we want to compete with quality and design. Cutting down the costs for a subpar product is not the way we want to go. It’s better to include all the best things, because condominiums are an emotional buy where price becomes secondary if people are happy with the truly top-notch quality and product. I love all the little things and little details. I think in property especially, attention to detail is what makes all the difference.”
Find out more about Korn Narongdej in our November issue, now available in leading bookstores nationwide.
Photographer: Sivakorn Chotanakarnsatit
Stylist: Wachirapanee Markdee
Makeup & Hair: Phuttinun Sae-Lee
Editorial Coordinators: Rattanachai Chaipornsantikul & Thanyapon Rangubpis
Location: The Estelle Phrom Phong