Why Bangkok Should Be On Your Design Radar
Here are the emerging creatives to know.
Updated Jan 28, 2019 1:45 PM
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This story originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Domino, titled “The Next Design Destinations.” Subscribe to be the first to receive each issue.
As Bangkok’s skyline soars with gilded high-rises and luxury mega-malls, a glut of young talent is resisting monoculture by returning to Thailand’s traditional crafts and motifs—think: compelling cane furniture, embroidered textiles, and chromatic glasswork. Brooklyn-based, half-Thai Robert Sukrachand, who has been coming to the city for 22 years, has witnessed the artisanal takeover firsthand. “The best of these designers are celebrating utilitarian, everyday Thai objects by reimagining them in contemporary forms,” Sukrachand says of the community, which is based in the Charoenkrung neighborhood, just south of Chinatown on the shores of the Chao Phraya River. He was so inspired that his new furniture collection is an homage to the area’s ubiquitous terrazzo street benches—his feature glistening shards of glass upcycled from his coveted multidimensional mirrors. While Sukrachand admits there is treasure to be found behind nearly every studio, store, and gallery door in Charoenkrung, he highlights his top three on-the-rise creatives to seek out.
Making the extraordinary from the mundane is 56thStudio designer Saran Yen Panya’s specialty, exemplified by his recent Noodle Stools. Inspired by the omnipresent metal seating flanking the stalls of Bangkok’s street-food vendors, Panya elevates the overlooked furniture with textural fabrics that are hand-embroidered with tigers, roses, and graphic patterns.
“I couldn’t believe the quality of the furniture,” says Sukrachand of his first encounter with Ada Chirakranont and Worapong Manupipatpong’s cane collection—featuring arched armoires and cabinets, rattan-based cocktail tables, and diaphanous seating—at this year’s Bangkok Design Week. For their essential beauty and exacting craftsmanship, “I think of them as the Thai version of Hay.”
Founded by Bangkok natives Decha Archjananun and Ploypan Theerachai, Thinkk Studio produces everything from small objects to hotels, giving Thai classics a streamlined twist. One technically challenging fluted glass side table caught Sukrachand’s eye: “They’re pushing the boundaries of Thai design and surprising people with what [local] craft can accomplish.”
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