Theam's House

What we say: 3.5 stars

Elephants, geckos and fish are just some of the brightly coloured contemporary artworks you can admire at the slightly-hard-to-find Theam’s House, the Siem Reap home and atelier-meets-gallery of Cambodian designer and artist Lim Muy Theam.

Teeming with colourful artwork

A rainbow of arty animals.

It’s an unlikely location for a showroom of design-savvy sculptures, lacquerwork and paintings. Your tuk tuk will need to depart from the main road and head down a rusty-coloured one to reach this leafy hidden home, passing by the workshop of Madagascan-born, French-raised, haute couture fashion designer Eric Raisna along the way. It takes about 15 minutes from the relative bustle around Old Market in central Siem Reap to arrive.

The effort is worth it though if you’re interested in arts and crafts or looking for something more exciting than just a T-shirt to take home from your trip. The creative modern aesthetic of the designs, ranging from decorative lacquer boxes to homewares such as salad servers, injects new life into the Cambodian handicrafts sector and contributes to the expanding Siem Reap arts scene.

Like Artisans d’Angkor, a popular centre and shop for traditional handicrafts in Siem Reap where Theam was previously the artistic director, you can similarly see works-in-progress at Theam’s House with the pieces made on-site. Young artisans learn the trade under Theam’s tutelage and you can watch them execute his designs using a broad range of media. You may even chance upon Theam himself at work or call in advance to arrange to meet, if he’s available, to learn more about the works on display and how they are made.

Gallery of Theam's paintings

Gallery of Theam’s paintings

You’re not going to find Theam’s House unless you’re looking for it, and even if you are, you may need to explain it to your tuk tuk driver twice. But fret not, a selection of Theam’s work can also be found at selected outlets at some of Siem Reap’s swanky hotels so you can more easily get your hands on these special souvenirs including: Frangipani Villa, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Sofitel Angkor, La Residence D’Angkor and Memoire d’Angkor. Or if you’re in Phnom Penh you’re more likely to stumble across his showroom at Reyum Gallery, Fine Arts Street 178.

The originality and quality of the pieces justifies the prices, which are higher than those of the crafts you find in the Old Market area; I requested slight tailoring with gold swirls added to my bright blue elephant and it was delivered to me in town the next day at no extra charge.

Theam’s House is free to visit – just expect to feel the need to make a little elephant-sculpture shaped space in your bag afterwards.

More details
No. 25 Veal Village, Kothchak Commune, Siem Reap
http://www.theamshouse.com
Last updated: 13th August, 2014

Last reviewed by:
Caroline swapped the drizzle of Old Blighty for the dazzling sunshine of Siem Reap and she spends most weekends cycling the temple-studded terrain that she can call her backyard.

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