Thailand polishes its hip image through design at Milan show

Posted on April 25, 2014

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Never heard about “Thai Craftology”? This is fully normal as the word is a neologism created by Slow Hand Design curator and designer Eggarat Wongcharit. The word is in fact a mixture of craft and technology and a new phase for the evolution of contemporary Thai design.

Thailand Craftology pavilion at Milan Furniture Fair draw large crowds of curious viewers and media. Present for the fourth year, the pavilion is the work of  Slow Hand Design, a company owned by Eggarat Wongcharat. Since Thailand has been present at the show, the Thai pavilion and its unusual architecture has brought to the world the latest of design development in Thailand. This year the presentation highlighted  how Thailand’s design industry is adapting to the changing international market via what Wongcharit calls “Thai Craftology” – a mixture of craft and technology and a new phase.

The presence at the fair is  assuring that Thailand is turning into one of the top countries in Asia for innovative design and creativity. Designing lifestyle has been a Thai art of living for centuries with exquisite furniture, painting, sculptures, sumptuous jewels and colourful textiles being part of the life at the royal court. It is now accessible to anyone visiting Thailand with many shopping malls, markets –such as the famous Chatuchak Week End Market- exhibiting the latest pieces of new talents. The variety of available materials has indeed helped a young generation of Thai designer to infuse a breath of new life to Thailand crafts through design.

Thailand’s Slow Hand Design presented the best of contemporary Thai design at Superstudio Piu, the eminent off-site event that takes place  during the famed Salone Internazionale del Mobile (Milan Furniture Fair), the world’s  leading design and furniture fair. The 2014 edition ran from 8-13 April and visitors were all instantly drawn to the ‘7 Hipsters Showcases’ – featuring the latest Thai designs from Anon Pairot, Dots Design  Studio, Korakot, Labrador, Srinlim, Thinkk Studio and Qualy – each outfit personally  selected to give show-goers a taste of new-generation trends.

For the past three years, Slow Hand Design exhibitions have been about the roots and gradual rise of the Thai design industry over the past half century. This year I wanted to demonstrate how the Thai Design industry will survive and thrive in the future, utilising the new ‘craftology’,” Eggarat says.

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Exhibition viewers were able to learn more about the creative process of Thai design from the kingdom’s leading young designers, who were available to answer questions, exchange views and ideas and discuss their creations with visitors to the fair.

Since Thai designers first began participating at the Milan Furniture Week, we have seen a steady increase in orders from abroad, especially with respect to special orders and contract jobs,” said ML Kathathong Thongyai, Director of the Department of International Trade Promotion, or DITP, a key supporter of Thailand’s Slow Hand Design project.

Best of it: Thai contemporary design is not only affordable to many but largely present in daily life. A shopping mall such as Siam Centre in Bangkok commercial heart reinvented itself last year into a trendy Design and Fashion cosmopolitan shopping experience while many hotels use the talents of Thai designers to create hip hotels. From the Sukhothai to the new So by Sofitel or to the W Hotel, from the D2 in Chiang Mai to the Sheraton in Phuket, Thai design is the craze of the time with Thai designers turning into true celebrities. Just a fair assessment of Thai talents!

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