Young, talented Thai designers Decha Archjananun and Ploypan Deerachai fearlessly take on the challenge of bringing Asian art to the world. Read about their inspirations and predictions in future design trends.
Decha Archjananun and Ploypan Theerachai have been taking the design industry by storm. Only in their late 20s, the sheer talent and fresh perspective of these young designers have propelled them to international success. Although it did take some time for Asian designers to penetrate the industry, the two believe that the time has come for Asia to be known beyond the region. In the past, Asians didn’t think that design was important. They focused only on price and massive trading, they relate. ‘Nowadays, people understand that design is one of the important factors to be successful.’
However, it is still quite hard to shake off Western influences in their work. So the hurdle to overcome is how to not lose their identity as designers – and as Asians – in the process. They say that crossing cultures ‘is a way to create something in between’, since some European brands also use Asian technique in their products. For them it’s very important to work hard and retain the good quality of their designs to keep the momentum on their side.
Much like their European and Asian counterparts, Theerachai and Archjananun also use cross-culture, and this is very evident in their designs, which has been working well for them. In 2010, their design called Cover Crop won the Elle Decoration Thailand Design Awards 2009/2010 in the Seating Category. Also in the same year the Scrap Facet, a chair that uses scrap wood and various textures, won Honorable Mention in the Young Designers Category in the Furniture Design Award in Singapore.
These designs propelled them to international acclaim, and with them, their Bangkok studio called THINKK Studio.
CONST LAMP – On show at the Spazio Rossana Orlandi during the 2012 Milan Design Week, the concept for the Const Lamp (above) is based on three simple elements: a base, body and shape, components that combine expression with function.
GOING BEYOND CONVENTION
With the competition tough and getting tougher, Archjananun and Theerachai are constantly on their toes to make THINKK Studio rise above the rest. ‘We work on different design fields, from architecture to furniture and objects which allow us to interchange our way of thinking. For instance, we [have] worked with architectural materials like marble or concrete, combined with industrial materials such as wood or steel for some design products,’ they say.
Adding to that, Theerachai says that they usually start on an idea separately but develop it together. She says that it is when their opinions differ that they come up with better solutions to design problems. For inspiration, they love to go somewhere different from their daily behaviour. ‘We believe that the inspiration comes from our experience so we have to collect it from everything, everywhere, as much as possible.’
With tons of inspiration to get the ball rolling, the duo entered ‘Doorobot’ in a competition called ‘A Door to Paradise’, which ‘enriches one’s perception of a door’. Sponsored by Design Boom, Doorobot was among the entries submitted by 3,652 designers from 90 countries. The design was also featured in the Competition Booklet, which compiled 87 of the competition’s most outstanding entries.
The two have also expanded their reach with their recent collaboration with another design house, Studio 248, founded by another Thai designer Jakkapun Charinrattana. This brought about the Arms chair, a multi-armrest chair that accommodates various arm positions and sitting gestures.
What makes the chair special? ‘We think there are not only Asian designers but many designers in the world who try to create something unique in terms of shape and material but rarely think about specific behaviours and gestures that people do on a chair,’ they share.
The Arms chair has been exhibited by the two collaborating studios in Ventura Lambarte and at the annual Salone Internationale del Mobile in Milan.
MINDING THE ENVIRONMENT
Another endeavour the two have undertaken is thinking up ideas on how to take care of the environment. With global warming issues taking top-of-mind importance, Theerachai and Archjananun have also come up with designs to help ease consumption of electricity and water.
This environment-friendly project, called the Light Public Toilet, is an entry to a competition on sustainability called ‘Light Objects’. The project aims to decrease pollution and ‘helps sustain areas with low energy and water’.
The Light Public Toilet works by collecting rain water, passing it through a water-purifying system, and releasing the purified water for hand washing and flushing. After flushing, the water goes through another purification process to make it suitable for watering plants. Meanwhile, solar energy powers the lighting and the water filtration systems.
Their other projects, like the Arms chair, uses only environment-friendly and recycled materials. ‘We have been using scrap wood and small pieces of wood left over from the manufacturing process as material for our design,’ they share. ‘Apart from the use of recycled materials, we think product durability is one of the important factors of “green”’.
Thinking green and being green are just part of the trends in design. They do allow for sustainability and help preserve the environment, but according to the two designers, there are other factors that make trends in the industry move at a fast pace. They both believe that the global financial crisis will drive designers more towards minimalism and challenge them to do more with less, and to offer more for less. Extravagance will be a thing of the past. ‘Finishing techniques and colour will take an important role to make things different,’ they share.
For Theerachai and Archjananun, it is the responsibility of the designer to make this happen. The tight money situation may just turn out to be a blessing. ‘Some designers will find their own ways to manufacture their own products because big companies do not want to take risks on a new design.’ That should ensure that manufacturing shortcuts are avoided and that execution is done just as the designer ordered.
1. MERGING TOP – Vases wtith concrete bases in wire frames. 2. ARMS CHAIR – This ash wood-and-fabric armchair was designed to create unique form without sacrificing functionality. 3. SCRAP FACET – The use of scrap wood allows this industrially produced chair to become a work of art and at the same time be available at a mass-production price. 4. TRI SIDE TABLE – The combination of coloured and natural touch of wood creates a playful atmosphere to your room.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THINKK STUDIO