Inspired by Lanna Culture and Design in Thailand

In the my last post of Chiang Mai, I briefly mentioned how I was loving the style of our hotel, the Shewe Wana.  I started noticing more examples of this colonial Chinese design all over the city and was completely captured by the details and history of it all.  To understand it, I needed to understand the history and the location.

Chiang Mai is one of the oldest cities of Thailand, and was actually part of the Lanna Kingdom back in the late 1200s.  The Lanna Kingdom had influences from all over because of the historic Silk Road trade route.  A blend of Indian and Chinese cultures really infused the Kingdom that was already rich in its own natural wealth.  Northern Thailand has an abundance of nature to enjoy with a picturesque atmosphere of rivers, forests, mountains, animals, and more.

I started noticing all the use of old and reclaimed woods, there’s plenty to be seen here from lattices to shutters.  Similar to industrial and green design themes, natural and reused woods definitely come to the forefront in the overall theme, but in Thailand they have more decorative and carved features.   The beautiful tiled floors with all their patterns and colors were surprising to me.  I think I normally associate patterned tiles to places like Morocco or Spain, but understanding that the Silk Road stretched through to Mediterranean areas, I could see how this area would also have these features.  Teak wood homes, some raised to protect from flooding, with decorative banisters and railings are infused with a sense of luxury and glamour.  Details in the wood carvings and the shine of brass accessories, themes of silk upholstery and add an elegance to the area.

Along with this general appearance, I admired how they added in their own sense of culture and history.  Colonial doors that line the walls and open up to let the natural beauty of the surrounding land in.  Carved relief work of scenes of elephants and lotus flowers paint a picture of the native treasures.  Even the large hand carved furnishings and posts, so grand and massive, remind you how the local pachyderms would need to collect the large peices of wood and bring them into town to create such impressive works.  It was all so inspiring.

In reliving these memories of Thailand, I started to be inspired to create my own mood board of things that may be more of an updated Lanna-style.  Something that merges the old and historical significance with a contemporary twist.  I created a whole list of items on my Pinterest page here:

To make it a little more visual, I created this board with some sources:


  1. Patterned floors are beautiful, but not in a more contemporary setting I would use a natural fiber rug to really outline a specific area.  Jute Rug
  2. Mix new furnishings with old for a more authentic feel to the room. Vintage Chinese Fretwork Panels
  3. In the land of Buddha, I had to incorporate one into the room. Buddha Table Lamps
  4. Clean lines and soft greys bring something new to make the room more transitional. Ash Grey Console Table
  5. Chinese inspired poster bed adds height to the room and are a little reminiscent of large columns. Hayward Bed
  6. Thai silk in a bright fuchsia adds a pop of color and pattern. Thai Ikat Pillows
  7. Bringing in a touch of that vintage again in a skirt remnant turned into a pillow. Thai Embroidered Dragon Pillow
  8. Small stools at the foot of the bed provide additional seating. Uttermost Bench
  9. Need additional storage? Want to add some fun color? Teal Wood Cabinet
  10. Most windows had shutters or decorative paneling, some homes in the outskirts of Chiang Mai had only louvered wood shutters instead of glass windows.  These panels don’t need to be used for windows at all, but would make super fun wall decor. Antique Chinese Panels
  11. Fabric similar to Hill Tribe fabric. Lana Pillow
  12. Fabric similar to Hill Tribe fabric. Layla Pillow
  13. Carved wooden bench. Fretwork Bench
  14. Indigo dyed batik pattern pillow. Hill Tribe Pillow
  15. Fabric similar to Hill Tribe fabric. Lucky Pillow
  16. Contemporary Chinese-inspired lamp with a bold fun color. Pagoda Table Lamp
  17. Purple cymbidiums were everywhere, decorating food, offered at temples, and now can decorate your room. Silk Cymbidium Arrangement
  18. Not your typical Thai icons for dancers, I like how this peice blends Thai styles with something more modern. Thai Dancers Block Print
  19. Pagoda-inspired pendant in a material that adds new texture to the room. Tobago Lantern
  20. Storage cabinet in a natural wood, the handles on the doors really reminded me of the doors on my hotel room.  Reclaimed Wood Sideboard

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