Founder Prangthong “Roong” Tiengkate graduated with a degree in pharmacy, but she has always been fond of crafts and creative works since she grew up in a family closely connected with the craft community in Mae Chaem. Her mother, Nussara Tiengkate, worked her entire life to create a network of people with shared interests to help them promote local textiles and attract visitors to Mae Chaem, a comparatively remote district south of Chiang Mai. They wanted to open their house and host activities so the local community could connect and share knowledge with visitors. It came to be known as Sang Ga Dee.
“We did not know what to call ourselves. Mother loves textiles and father works with bamboo. Our network does a variety of handicrafts, all of which are good. In Mae Chaem, households that do things well are described as “a sang ga dee”, which is sometimes shortened to “sang ga dee,” Roong said. “It was a monk who is an old family friend who gave us the idea for the name.”
Travelling to distant Mae Chaem can be a bit of a challenge, but it became especially difficult during the pandemic. Roong’s father consulted with a landowner in San Kamphaeng District, who wanted to develop a piece of land near Ton Pao Pattana intersection, which is much closer and more easily accessible from Chiang Mai City. They decided to create an art and craft sharing space where they could bring craftworking from Mae Chaem closer to the city. Unable to return to Mae Chaem during the pandemic and missing working in her hometown, Roong decided to bring the Sang Ga Dee concept to this new space, naming it Sang Ga Dee Space.
The spacious 30 rai plot of land is abundant with trees like wild teak, and they have added plants such as indigo, padauk, turmeric and banana that can be used to make natural dyes. There are also various kinds of cottons, which help emphasize the importance of quality in raw materials and their value in the weaving process so prized by Roong’s mother.
In 2021, their opening event was called “Loolii,” a term for raw cotton used to make threads early in the weaving process. By using this specific term, they wanted to raise awareness on the importance of materials and the crafting process in addition to reinforcing the sense of passing knowledge down the generations that is implied by the term “Loolii”.
The five-day event attracted many people who love handicrafts and were interested in local traditions of woodwork, bamboo craftworks, weaving, pottery and embroidery. The event also featured rare culinary dishes, workshops and activities for visitors to learn and experience. Sang Ga Dee Space aims to be a place where people can gather knowledge, gain experience and get inspired.
“Those who are interested but still hesitant or who don’t have the opportunity to go on field trips can learn from the experts here. They can find out what they truly like and then connect with people who will help them learn how to develop it,” said Roong.
“We want this space to be a playground for everyone who is interested, a place where creative activities bring benefit and become part of the city culture. Anyone who has ideas and wants to try something is welcome to come here to discuss them,” she said.