Comic surrealism meets resort cool at this toy-collector’s vacation home in Cha-am Beach
If the ursine family from the fairytale Goldilocks and the Three Bears relocated to the seaside resort of Cha-am in central Thailand, they would probably be very happy to hunker down in this cosy, timber-rich residence called Bear House.
But you won’t find any grizzly beasts here, only cute plastic bears and a family who adore them. Bear House, created by Bangkok design firm Onion, is the vacation residence of the Sahawat family, who wanted a museum of sorts for their beloved collection of Bearbrick figurines – collectible designer toys by Japanese manufacturers MediCom Toy.
The Bearbrick was so named because it is shaped like a cartoon-style, pot-bellied teddy bear and is a variation of MediCom’s Kubrick figurines. A standard sized Bearbrick is seven centimetres high and made of plastic with nine swivelling parts, although variations in height and material have produced models as large as 70cm tall.
First launched in 2001 as a free gift for visitors to the World Character Convention in Tokyo, some of the world’s most famous fashion designers and visual artists, including Karl Lagerfeld and HR Giger, have created artwork on the surfaces of Bearbricks figurines. An exclusive limited edition Bearbrick figurine can cost as much as HK$500,000, and are highly sought-after by toy collectors around the world.
But back to the Sahawats, who wanted to renovate a 380 sq-m, three-storey building and transform it into a holiday home. They approached Arisara Chaktranon and Siriyot Chaiamnuay of Onion, who had projects such as the Kawasaki showroom, dramatic art galleries, a resort and stunning residences in their portfolio. Onion, the Sahawats felt, was the right choice to meld a toy museum with a chic and efficient beachfront home.
“As a beachfront vacation home, we created a different environment from their everyday home in Bangkok, with the owners’ collectable toys adding a special touch,” says Chaktranon.