When Thai property developers Sansiri decided on a location to present their ambitious project, 98 Wireless, to regional press, they chose a 200-year old traditional two-storey building five minutes away from Swissôtel Bangkok. It's a smart move on their part. By looking forward to what's going to be one of Southeast Asia's most luxurious properties, they're also paying tribute to the area's historical gems — the wooden structure is in fact, the first house on the tree-lined Wireless Road.
This dedication to history is steeped in 98 Wireless' design. After all, the 25-storey property — due for completion in October 2016 — aims to embody the luxe, classic identity of some of the greatest buildings in New York, Paris and London with its Beaux-Arts-influenced archirecture style. Before you enter one of their 77 units, you'll go through the 23-metre high lobby — that scale alone is enough to impress.
Then come the opulent staircases, custom-made chandeliers and water fountains, all employing materials such as Carrara and Calacatta marbles from Italy, white-oak herringbone floors and Portuguese Moleanos limestone. In the units, fittings by LeFroy Brooks and Kallista, kitchen cabinetry by SieMatic and appliances from SubZero, Gaggenau, and Siemens make it functional. The cherry on top? The collaboration with Ralph Lauren Home (RLH), who have furnished five show units with interior designer Anne Carson, an RLH alumni herself. We caught up with RLH president William Li at the press conference in Bangkok last week to find out what exactly makes 98 Wireless stand out.
RLH has done very few real estate projects in the past — in fact, this is your first in Asia, and one out of three. What about 98 Wireless that made you give the okay?
When we heard about this project, it was exciting that a company like Sansiri would be so ambitious to build a building of this quality, using these incredible materials and doing something in one way, very old fashion, but in another way incredibly innovative. In the emerging markets, you see a new appreciation for material and history. The way innovation and history have combined themselves in this project made it very exciting to us.
What do you admire about the building?
The architecture style that was chosen is rooted in great 18-19th century tradition. Some of the greatest buildings of London, Paris and New York are made in the Beaux-Arts tradition. The fact that they are attempting to do something so grand in Asia is very exciting. It's a very classical architecture style, and the best architecture is timeless: It's very clean, the proportions are beautiful, and that's what makes this building special. It's a building that will look great this year, and it will look great 100 years from now.
Are there any items from RLH that are specifically made for 98 Wireless?
There are a couple of main chandeliers in the public spaces that were custom made and modified to Sansiri's specifications. There is nothing we made that could possibly be big enough. We had to call NASA (laughs). When you walk in to the lobby, you won't believe how magnificent it will be — one of the grandest lobbies in the world. Not to oversell it, but it's pretty spectacular. It's like walking into the Paris Opera House or The Louvre.
In the promise of such luxurious furnishings, what are five things that are important to you in determining what luxury is?
Quality, artistry, craftsmanship, something that truly enhances your life and that gets better with age. It's not something that's trendy, it's something that really endures. I think that's what 98 Wireless set out to do. It's not just about creating a great condominium; it's about creating a great building. Which I think is rare.
Any decor tips for a fan of RLH?
Oh God, I don't know if I could answer that. Our collections are so varied. I think my advice to someone who's moving in to any home is: Buy the things you love, buy the best that you can afford, and buy things that make you happy. I don't personally have any rules. We generally don't have rules like that at Ralph Lauren. It's generally: Live a great life, the best life you can live...whatever that is.
Is this collaboration with Sansiri an indication of more property projects to come?
We don't have ambitious plans to be honest. Unlike other fashion brands that trademark buildings, that's not something we're interested in doing. We want to work with the best developers in the world...we work with very few projects. To date, we've worked with only three: One in France, and one in Moscow. Unless they're spectacular, we don't usually participate.
Sales will officially launch after project completion in October 2016. For more information, click here.