Some of Asia's top designers picked each other's brains about form, function and the environment when they gathered in Bangkok recently.
brand +Sense’s SMood collection by Apirat Boonruangthaworn.
Thai and South Korean designers shared their experiences, discussed the importance of design, and considered how to consolidate growth and expand market share both locally and overseas.
The event, titled Korea-Thailand Design Sharing, was organised by the Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC), the Department of International Trade Promotion of the Commerce Ministry, and the Korea Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP). The aim was to prepare for future cooperation in developing business and intellectual exchange between Thailand and South Korea.
"We would like to know what Korean designers are doing and also how they think. This is an experience that Thai designers can learn from," said ML Kathathong Thongyai, director of the Office of Product Value Promotion.
The programme showcased designs that had outstanding aesthetic, functional and environmental values. One Korean, E Roon Kang, presented his design project called "Trash Track". He lives and works in New York and works in print, web, environmental graphics, and interactive installations, with a focus on evaluating complex systems.
Trash Track is a tag with tiny locatable and addressable microelectronic systems. This is an investigation to understand the "removal chain" _ how we get rid of something _ in urban areas and to promote behavioural change.
The researchers use smart tags to follow trash. They invited 500 people in Seattle to tag their trash and followed 3,000 objects. The team of researchers developed a small location-reporting tag and tracked hundreds of electronic devices such as mobile phones, batteries and printer cartridges.
This innovation could encourage environmentally friendly behaviour in people and help society reduce a huge amount of waste in the future.
Another worthy design, by Kim Hyun-been, is a cup-holder called DrinKlip. The product can be attached to the edge of any desk, shelf or table, and it solves the problem of holding your drink in small spaces, extending your desk and avoiding spills. The clip is multi-functional as it can also hold other items around the home or workplace _ nails, screws or drill bits, and you can tidy your crafting tools, hair ties or keys.
"Korean designers have these ultramodern ideas because they have opportunities to work with companies that are open-minded and social. We're working to [make that happen] for Thai designers too," said ML Kathathong.
To support Thai designers, the department and the TCDC promotes a creative atmosphere, where work can be displayed and ideas can be expanded upon. An example is TCDC's "Ploysaeng" project, an annual activity where designers exchange thoughts and opinions and those interested in creative design can demonstrate their vision.
One successful Thai designer, Surasek Yuthiwat, has taken great interest in the field since he was a student. Early on, he didn't know about the production process but his creativity led him there. His designs are a combination of imagination and positive thinking _ one example is a product called "I'm A Talking Plate". It's a clear glass plate that has words and phrases etched at its bottom, and what you can do is highlight the phrase you prefer with a crayon _ a design that helps you express your feelings.
Surasek has exhibited designs abroad and won several prizes in Thailand and Japan, and was declared one of the top five Thai designers of last year by Surface Asia magazine.
Another Thai, Apirat Boonruangthaworn, is a designer specialising in outdoor furniture. He has won 19 design awards locally and six abroad, and is a founder of the furniture label brand+Sense. His design philosophy tries to minimise unnecessary details and maximise human sense in everyday objects. He launched his first collection last year: the SMood outdoor furniture is based around eco-design. The main component is made of recycled aluminum leftovers. Aluminum extrusion tubes serve as its structure, and this allows it to withstand any weather conditions.
Apirat tries to add value to his creations so that they can compete in the global market.
ML Kathathong said: "The important thing that can push Thai brands forward is to give our designers opportunities to exhibit their products, enable them to find new markets by branching out into other countries and share ideas with foreign designers or meet new partners.
"The next plan is to send our designers to South Korea and share ideas with their counterparts there. Exposure to a new atmosphere and design culture can inspire them to higher levels of creativity."
E Roon Kang’s Trash Track.
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Writer: Phornphan Kittidutsadeekul