From the outside the old wooden building looks like most of its neighbouring houses by the riverside in the centre of Chiang Mai. But don’t be deceived, the old cliché about avoiding to judge of a book by its cover fits just right to the description of La Luna Gallery. In the last five years the colourful inside of the house been domicile for modern art and classy designs of both Thai and international artists.
“For me art is essential, and beautiful surroundings really improve the quality of life”, says Danish Lasse Nørgaard, who owns La Luna along with his two business partners.
The main reason for the popularity of La Luna is the love of art, not strategic calculations. And the owners often acquire artwork from unknown artists, simply because they like it.
“We love art, but we definitely do not consider ourselves to be experts. We buy the pieces we actually love ourselves and in that perspective I think we are just like about 99 percent of our customers”, Lasse Nørgaard says. But that does not mean that they cannot spot a hit when they see it, for instance Kamol Tamseewan – who later has claimed wide recognition – sold his paintings from La Luna when he was an unknown 22-year-old from the local art school.
This attitude is also expressed in the welcoming atmosphere of the gallery, and the owner underlines that visits from all art lovers are also appreciated.
“We have a sitting area children are welcome, it is important to us that everybody feels welcome here, We would not want to, and could not, run a gallery if we only targeted a rich elite”, he points out.
Demands for Danish design
But paintings are not the only interest of La Luna. Jewellery, ingenious handbags and stylized cases of lacquer fill the shelves between the images. The newest arrival of applied art is a selection of praised Danish design classics, like and colourful and award-winning Stelton series, Rosendahl and Eva Solo and futuristic tableware in stainless steel.
“The gallery is quite big so we have the room to exhibit other types of artwork. And the stylish Danish design fits very well to La Luna, actually many of our Thai friends really love the minimalistic Nordic design” Lasse Nørgaard says.
Besides the exhibitions of art and design, the gallery also hosts different events, often with a humanistic touch. On the annual World AIDS Day the first of December, La Luna broad attention to the worldwide problem be exhibits artworks, there all had AIDS as a theme – including two dresses made of condoms – on a hotel in Chiang Mai.
“The initiative became quite big, and we managed to collect more than 330.000 baht, which went to various organisations, who works with care, information and anti-stigma”. Lasse Nørdgaard proudly reports.
The success of La Luna, situated more than 700 kilometres north of Bangkok, where the great majority of the art scene is located has probably come as a surprise to many.
“Five years ago people often predicted the gallery could not make here in Chiang Mai, and we were often asked if we did not thought that there already would have been galleries in the city if there was a demand for it”, Lasse Nørgaard says.
But the new gallery owners decided to live out their dream anyway, and so far the dream has come true. Since then numerous of gallery has been established in the city, international media like the Financial Times has praised the gallery to the sky and La Luna has made it to the official top ten list over the ‘Must sees’ of Chiang Mai.
“Actually, a large part of our costumers come from Bangkok. Not because we are better than any other gallery there but most likely because they are in a buying-mood when the travel to the North. So I guess the distance isn’t such a big problem after all”, the happy galley owner ads.