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Khmer craftsman sells custom lamps

island-bar-lamp
Dara's upside-down Christmas tree lamp. Photo by: CLAIRE BYRNE

If you’ve ever been to the Island Bar, chances are you’ve looked up and marvelled at its incredible lamp. Like a cascading waterfall, the massive creation dangles over the Night Market bar, and is the work of local craftsman Pheng Chandara, aka Dara.

Originally from Phnom Penh, Dara got the idea for creating bespoke lamps from his friend Chin Socheat, whose sister was doing a roaring trade with her own designs in the capital.

“I thought maybe for Siem Reap with all the big hotels and restaurants, I might be able to make something really special,” he said.

The Island Bar then approached Dara to create a centrepiece and he sat down with them to design something unique. “I actually wanted it to look like an upside-down Christmas tree,” said Pheng. “All lit up and festive looking.”

The huge lamp was made on the floor of Dara’s room. It took several days to make with the help of his pal Socheat.

Dara has since gone on to create one-of-a-kind pieces for Viva and several Khmer bars around town, and he’s now working on a number of designs for hotel lobbies and bars.

While he’s eager for the business to take off, he wants to start slow. “I just want to build it up bit by bit,” he says, “I think it will be more successful this way.”

His buddy Chin however is more ambitious. “I think we should write to the Guinness Book of Records,” he said. “And tell them we have made the biggest lamp in the world.”

But Dara is quick to note he can craft small garden lanterns, and domestic lamps as well as hotel-scale chandeliers. “I can custom make lamps to any style. I use the best silk or bamboo coverings and get a frame specially made.

“One day I’d like to set up a showroom to sell my lamps, but for now people can go to Viva or the Island Bar to see them and contact me on Facebook or email. I really enjoy making them and love to be able to look up and say, ‘I made that’.”

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