Design sticks to the rails

Thailand is like a toddler when it comes to the laborious task of developing railway systems. With that notion in mind, the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC) presents "Designing A Happy Journey: Reviving Kyushu Through Creativity", an exhibition which will open our eyes with the success story of Japanese rail services.

DesigningAHappy Journey: Reviving Kyushu Through Creativity will be on show at TCDC’s Gallery 2 from March 16 to May 26. The design centre is located on the 6th floor of Emporium and is open daily except Mondays from 10.30am to 9pm. Free admission. Call 02-664-8448 ext 213/4 or visit www.tcdc.or.th.

Held in collaboration with Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) and Don Studio Design Associates, the exhibition shares the story of JR Kyushu, which provides the most extensive tourist railway services in Japan.

The exhibition is divided into two key parts. The first part, "New Economy From Trains", features the story behind Kyushu Island, the history of JR Kyushu and its management success.

Viewers will learn how the company has struggled through changes, profit losses and shifts in employee confidence to persevere and successfully create the Kyushu railway which is unique _ both in design and service.

This part portrays how the company turned its strength into a selling point by combining local culture and materials with modern technology and ingeniously applying them to train services, which resulted in profit to the company.

The company also involved the local community in the development of trains as a convenient means of transportation, helped boost local businesses both in agricultural and tourism sectors, and generated income which allowed more local development and better visitor experiences.

The latter part, "Designing A Happy Journey", showcases Eiji Mitooka's work for JR Kyushu for more than 25 years, including the exterior and interior of about 30 trains, the development of railway stations, property projects, employee uniforms, railway signs, public relations, and more.

His user-centred philosophy focuses on the customer's convenience, and also captures the local identity through the use of local materials such as leather, wood and Japanese sedge. Mitooka is a design consultant for JR Kyushu and founder of Don Design Associates. From his projects with JR Kyushu, he has won numerous prestigious awards.

The display will be illustrated with sharp and colourful line drawings as well as installations of real train decor such as chairs and seat upholstery fabric samples.