He may be managing director of leading Thai engineering consultancy Wishakorn but Wudhipong Kittitanasuan is also one of the country’s best known and most avid collectors of art. His myriad pieces, often curated for prestigious exhibitions, comprise works by renowned local artists such as Chalermchai Kositpipat, Chatchai Puipia and Tinnakorn Kasornsuwan among many others. “If I see something I like I have to buy it, even though now I barely have the space for any more,” laughs Wudhipong.
Flanked between ordinary-looking concrete townhouses, a beautifully carved Burmese wooden door stands out invitingly. It gives access to a snug foyer dominated by a 200-year-old chandelier and it is here that one discovers that Wudhipong’s love for art goes way beyond paintings to include just about anything old and vintage. Small as it is, the entrance makes a big statement. It’s almost like walking back in time or strolling through a small museum. “I think this is the most stunning room in the property,” says Wudhipong. “It creates such an impact when you walk in. Although I haven’t lived in the house for seven years, this is still one of my favourite places. I love to show it off and I come here every day to take a break from work.”
To our right, two carved wooden chairs stand against a white wall with a small table in between. They are dominated by commanding paintings of HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and HM Queen Sirikit created by Warawoot Shusangthong. “The display idea derives from a typical Chinese family home where you will always find this kind of setting of two chairs to receive and welcome guests,” Wudhipong explains.
On the left are two huge antique wooden apothecary cabinets featuring small medicine drawers. “They are extremely rare, so much so that I had to beg to secure them,” the collector says with a wry smile. As we admire the two antique beauties something else catches our attention, something one hardly ever finds in a home: a carved wooden sculpture of a garuda. “You know, nowadays it’s very hard to find these made of real wood. Previously you needed permission to have one at home.” Indeed, back in the day only those with a royal warrant were permitted to mount a garuda on the facades of buildings.
Moving from the foyer, we enter a small living room with a parquet floor that oozes a cool vintage vibe. An obvious theme that flows through the house is that of old Asia—the majority of the décor and furniture was purchased from antique stores around Thailand—but here we also discover a small Louis XIV style sofa. “People make reproductions of these sofas today but this one is actually an authentic period piece,” says Wudhipong. Although he has a strong preference for Asian furniture, antiques and art, he admits he also appreciates antiques from abroad.
Above the sofa, bronze busts of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej sculpted by Watchara Prayoonkum are carefully lined up depicting His Majesty throughout the different stages of his life. Here too is a lone sculpture of His Majesty sailing. In fact, Wudhipong’s collection of paintings and sculptures related to the late king is extensive. “He is someone I highly respected and looked up to,” says the art enthusiast. “I guess this is my way of paying my respects while also cherishing his memory.”
The room is filled with antiques, from old couches to chairs and lamps. But the most intriguing piece of all, probably because it stands out as so obviously contemporary, is a sculpture by Chatchai Puipia of a large pair of gold crossed legs placed on the floor. “This room is actually my favourite space in the house,” says Wudhipong. “I like to relax here, surrounded by all my vintage items. When I need a break this is my go-to spot.”
Exiting the living room and turning to the right, we walk through another old carved door that leads to the part of the house where the dining room is located. The door, which alone is an attractive piece of home décor in its own right, is from a Sino-Portuguese property in old Phuket town. The dining room itself is small but cosy. A large wooden dining table and set of six chairs stand boldly at the centre surrounded by more sculptures of Thailand’s different monarchs.
Wudhipong has been collecting art for the past two decades without restraint and today he owns around 1,000 paintings and sculptures. “I have so much that I ended up publishing a book through which I could share my collection with those who have a similar passion,” he laughs. From floor to ceiling, everything about this property reflects the homeowner’s fondness for historic objects. “Art is a beautiful thing,” he says. “It’s never boring. Life is short but art lives on.”
Did he need any help with inspiration for the décor? “Not really. I have a lot of artist friends, so I was lucky to be able to get their consultation and advice. Also, once I began collecting I came to realise that paintings and sculptures are so much more than objects simply for display. Sure, they’re forms of decoration but they’re also practical pieces of furniture, designed for a function.”
Though much of the residence is unused, Wudhipong has thought of turning the place into a museum one day. “There are times when I want to stop collecting but I know I can’t, so turning the house into a museum is a good idea,” he smiles. “But there are no plans for that yet.” For now the property is open to his friends, many of whom, once they have seen the inside of this Aladdin’s cave, are inspired to start their own collections.
Keep up with who's who in society by getting our top stories delievered straight to your inbox.