Perhaps unwittingly, Ivan Pun, 31, has become a poster child for the emerging cosmopolitan Myanmar, at least among the fashionable, jetsetting circles in which he travels. The son of the real estate tycoon Serge Pun, Ivan moved to the former capital, Yangon, in 2011 and proceeded to revitalize the city’s colonial downtown with TS.1, a pop-up arts, retail, food, design, and performance space, as well as a coterie of hip eateries, under the aegis of his lifestyle agency, Pun + Projects.
“What really excited me when I moved here was that idea of change. For such a long period of time, it was a repressed country. You didn’t get a sense of how it would progress,” says Pun, who grew up in Hong Kong, spent time in the U.K. and New York, and currently shuttles between Yangon and Hong Kong. “When I first arrived, Yangon was really quiet. Even now, I feel like there is a desire for the kind of place where people can come together.”
To that end, Pun has opened the sandwich shop Port Autonomy, the Italian restaurant Magari, and the Asian-fusion bistro Rau Ram; a steak house and a Korean boîte are in the works. There is also his furniture business, Paribawga, which sources local timber for architects around the world and produces modernized riffs on Burmese classics, and his retail operation, Myanmar Made, for which he seeks out artisanal pieces like Shan State textiles and Chindwin water jugs. Last New Year’s Eve, Pun invited 215 friends to Yangon for a three-day extravaganza that doubled as an introduction to the city — and had its own Instagram hashtag, #AYangonVisit.
And yet, despite his obvious commitment to his homeland, Pun admits to wanderlust. “I will probably be nomadic forever. The journey continues. There’s so much I want to see and do.”
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