A Incomplete Map of the Neverending Malls of KL

A quote saying, in KL, public life is malls 😔 that is attributed to @cheaheevon on Instagram

A zoomable image that is a chart of 17 different malls in the Kuala Lumpur and greater Kuala Lumpur region. The y-axis is "bougieness" level, and the x-axis is year built and renovated. The malls are plotted as specific points along these axes, and are organized into horizontal color band groups. The groups and malls within these groups are, in order of descending bouginess: 1) Conceptual Luxury: Starhill, 2) Luxuriously Asian: Pavilion, The Gardens, 3) Expat Central: LINC, Bangsar Village, 4) Middle Class Aspirations: Suria KLCC, Pavilion Bukit Jalil, 5) The People's Mall + Middle Class Aspirations: Mid Valley Megamall, 1 Utama, Sunway Pyramid, 6) Urban Consumer: NU Sentral, Avenue K, 7) Bargain Center: Lot 10, Fahrenheit, SOGO, 8) Think of the Youth: Sungei Wang, 9) Dying Ancestor: Campbell Complex.

* smaller, residential malls did not make the cut because they are lesser known and they are too plentiful.

Artist statement

I used to have nightmares about being lost in a neverending, maze-like shopping mall as a kid. So when I came to Kuala Lumpur in the beginning of this year, I was quickly very overwhelmed with the number of giant-size malls that I was running errands in and passing through during the course of my travels.

It didn't help that there is a level of sameness to the insides of all of these malls. They might have drastically different exteriors, but the interiors embody a certain monotony of fluorescent lighting, stilted atmosphere and the same chain stores. My experience inside one mall soon blurred in my memory with that of its competitor across the street or across town.

To cope with this overabundance of mall, I drew on my training as a design researcher (a blend of qualitative research and designer) to list and map out my experiences. Only by doubling down on my lived experience of mall, was I able to properly take stock of where I had been from one day to the next. The added benefit of examining these malls with a more interested eye was that I was able to identify and enjoy their differences — no matter how slight they may be.

— Jason Li,
March 2023

About the artist

Jason Li (he/him) is an independent designer, artist and educator. His practice revolves around promulgating bottom-up narratives, exploring networked technology and helping people live safely on the internet. Previous works have appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Asian Art Museum, and on the BBC. He is a co-author of The Hanmoji Handbook and an editor at Paradise Systems.

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Extra credit

Recurring local & foreign mall tenants

Name of mall
Chicken Rice





Louis Vuitton
Pavilion KL
The Gardens
Bangsar Village
Suria KLCC
Pavilion Bukit Jalil
Mid Valley Megamall
1 Utama
Sunway Pyramid
NU Sentral
Avenue K
Lot 10
Sungei Wang
Campbell Shopping Complex

A note about Suria KLCC

Folks who saw drafts of this map pointed out that the Suria KLCC mall should definitely be in a higher spot (above the "expat central" band). It's true that the Suria KLCC mall does have many luxury brands (see the presence of Louis Vuitton in the table above). But it is also an accessible mall in a few ways: 1) it's next to a public park, 2) it's on way to trains and offices, and 3) it offers cheaper food options (see the presence of Chicken Rice and McDonalds in the table above). The malls in the "expat central" band do not exhibit these features for the most part, nor did I spot average families passing through them — they felt like exclusive-by-design enclaves.

Special thanks

To @cheaheevon, @cl44r and @sarah.barzak for their invaluable input and patience