“Beware—you are now entering the maximalist world of Baan Botanica.” This tongue-in-cheek warning etched on the entrance sets the tone for any guest arriving at the zany tropical home of two of Asia’s most vibrant and passionate characters—landscape and hotel designer Bill Bensley and his partner, horticulturist Jirachai Rengthong.
The property is a full-on, high temple to exotica—an idiosyncratic abode that the couple share with five mischievous Jack Russells. Dubbed ‘Baan Botanica’ in homage to the hundreds of different tropical plant species nurtured in the gardens, this is their sanctuary—where Bill and Jirachai escape the craziness of whirlwind work and travel schedules. Located on the outskirts of Bangkok, the house is a cocktail of colour and texture where fun and frivolity mingle with serious antiques and precious art in a joyous, curated clash of cultures.
After countless years of globe-trotting, Bill and Jirachai have filled their home with a staggering collection of objects and furniture: Pakistani chests, Afghani window frames, Indian deities and Indonesian doors along with sculptures, textiles and ceramics from every corner of Asia. “We’re incurable collectors,” Bill says. “Our journeys are often spent combing bazaars, souks or flea markets, hunting for bargains or unique objects—not just for our home but the many design projects we undertake.”
An art lover and gifted painter, Bill also values functional, everyday items such as birdcages, chicken baskets or simple pottery—even found objects retrieved from jungles, seashores or fields. “I’m intrigued by nature’s artistry and the nobility found in humble pieces shaped by the caress of time,” he says. Many of these items are displayed around the veranda—the centre of life at Baan Botanica. Here, dinner guests linger late into the evening, sat around the open-air dining table festooned with tapestries of vivid fabrics and brilliant tropical orchids.