Designing a better tomorrow

Fifth instalment of Bangkok Design Week sees creatives imagine a future world

The 'SIT/VID/ME' pavilion at the Grand Postal Office. (Photos: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Bangkok Design Week is returning for its fifth edition, with over 200 interesting onsite exhibitions and activities to bring the capital back to life and stimulate the economy.

On view until Sunday, this year's event is sharing innovative ideas on how to live with Covid-19 under the concept of "Co With Creation", at Charoen Krung, Talad Noi, Phra Nakhon and Bang Lamphu, Sam Yan, Soi Ari-Pradiphat, Thong Lor, and Ekkamai to create a public learning space where hundreds of designers can showcase their creativity while visitors can learn new things.

"The Charoen Krung neighbourhood started becoming lonelier around five or six years ago when numerous shophouses shuttered their doors and businesses moved out. However, the surroundings have changed and it has now become a new hangout place for youngsters to try new things. It also serves as an example for local creators to incorporate creative design into daily life. Visitors will find a cluster of trendy cafés, restaurants and unique fashion boutiques in the area where artists collaborate with locals," said Apisit Laistrooglai, executive director of the Creative Economy Agency (CEA).

"Thailand Creative District will span 30 provinces, including Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla and Maha Sarakham to show how the country is being driven by a group of creative entrepreneurs. If we can create a network, an entire town, and not just a district, will transform. Designing with creativity can help improve quality of life."

It's time to leap out of the virtual world and embark on a sightseeing tour that begins at the Grand Postal Office in Bang Rak whose grounds have been transformed into an outdoor playground of innovations that will help maintain social distance in our new normal lives.

The exhibition 'New World x Old Town Part 2: The Reflection From The Light Source' features nine light and sound installations.

Meanwhile, AP Thailand is greeting visitors with "SIT/VID/ME". This massive scarlet metal pavilion with 100 mirrors is designed to be a communal space where guests can relax on a row of comfy swivel stools while maintaining social distance, but still be able to engage with friends, making it a picturesque backdrop for photography.

"Co With Garden" is a collaboration between CEA and Kernel Design to create a prototype of an outdoor public space amid the new normal. Under the concept of "Home Forest", its design emphasises natural airflow and the use of plants to divide spaces so that people can connect with nature while maintaining distance.

To relieve stress and provide a refreshing atmosphere, a bedroom and living area feature blue and yellow flowers and plants such as white plumbago, white cheesewood and yellow bell, which help filter dust and enhance our mood.

The dining area is designed to resemble a beautiful garden full of home-grown vegetables such as chilli, mint and other edible plants in order to inspire people to improve their gardens while a lengthy pathway is covered with a silky carpet of coconut husk, giving the impression that visitors are walking on clouds.

The 'Translucent' exhibition is on view at Madi Bkk cafe in Charoen 43 Art & Eatery.

Inside the building, the CEA has devoted some space to display cutting-edge product designs and innovations in modern living as well as provide environmental and climate change awareness messages.

On the 5th floor, the "Design Plant: Express" exhibition brings together a group of talented designers to showcase a range of useful mother and child goodies, electrical appliances, beauty products and household items that can be easily packaged for delivery to meet demands of the rapidly growing online shopping industry.

The group also aims to demonstrate how creativity can help add value to products in addition to motivating young designers to achieve their potential in the sector. Think Studio, for example, has created First Chair, which functions as a stool for kids to acquire fundamental carpentry skills while also fostering a positive childhood memory of crafting.

A designer duo, Katsamonrak Atita and Kittikorn Khwannak from Ati studio, teamed up with skilful basket weavers in Chiang Mai's Baan Pong Huay Lan community to craft the Cat Nap bed, which is fashioned with rattan and fabric, making it convenient for those travelling with pets.

The 'Future Paradise' exhibition at Bamrung Nukunkit Printing House.

Also on display is the experimental design exhibition "Pa Pah Designweek'" created by Teerachai Suppameteekulwat and Chanan Tassana. This is a collaboration between the award-winning household brand Qualy and Dots Design Studio to create waste management solutions and a way to reconcile old religious traditions with modern lifestyles.

They also created a new Buddha tablet collection using recycled materials and debris such as PET bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic milk bags, aluminium foil bags, UHT cartons, nylon fishnets and recycled ABS plastics to represent the cycle of life and death, based on Buddhist philosophy.

It's a short walk from the Grand Postal Office to Charoen 43 Art & Eatery, which is home to 10 classic shophouses that have been transformed into chic cafés, vintage fashion boutiques, a bakery, a bar and a grilled beef restaurant.

Visitors can take a break at Madi Bkk lifestyle cafe to enjoy good coffee while admiring the "Translucent" exhibition by Chulalongkorn University's Industrial Design Department. It boasts a striking collection of white paper clay artworks inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns to celebrate craftsmanship and depict the Charoen Krung-Talad Noi community's traditional lifestyle while also encouraging people to use their creativity to create new things from what can be found around them.

Just 500m from Charoen Krung 43 alley, House No 1 has converted its old warehouse into an art gallery to present the "Into Thai Film" exhibition by the Thailand Academy of Social Science Humanities and Arts.

The Mental-verse documentary invites visitors to explore depression.

The walls are adorned with hundreds of handbills from Thai and Western films, portraying the heyday of Thailand's flourishing film industry two decades ago.

Just a five-minute walk from House No 1, the multidisciplinary design studio Eyedropper Fill has set up a mini theatre on River City Bangkok's 2nd floor and is offering a screening of Mental-Verse, an immersive documentary from 11.30am to 5.30pm.

As part of the Conne(x)t Depression project, the documentary focuses on mental health issues and features activities such as exhibitions, documentaries, art installations and workshops to allow people to investigate their emotional states.

The theatre is designed to resemble a bedroom and the 90-minute documentary recounts the lives of three patients to find out the cause of their depression. They're of different ages and have faced different situations such as family issues, economic crises and virus outbreaks, but for them, a bedroom signifies the beginning of the day.

A 10-minute drive from Charoen Krung is Phra Nakhon, where the Design and Objects Association has taken over the historical Bamrung Nukunkit Printing House, which was established in the reign of King Rama V, to host the "Future Paradise" exhibition, which predicts trends for the next 10 years.

The 'Into Thai Film' exhibition at House No 1.

When the world is driven by AI technology in the future, young generations will long to find their roots and appreciate Thailand's rich cultural heritage. Therefore, a group of veteran designers from 27 brands has created a unique edition of eco-friendly home furnishings and furniture that reflects local wisdom and craftsmanship.

To raise awareness of waste, global warming and climate change, Pin Metal Art has converted a mound of surplus metal into the Echo megaphone-like sculpture in the hopes that people will listen to natural sounds from the jungle.

As a result of Covid-19, people will spend more time at home in the future and handicrafts will become a popular hobby. Ayodhya has created the Pong-Pong/Baum-Baum collection of stools and chairs to promote the notion of altering discarded clothing and scarves with our own designs.

To honour the beauty of Thai culture and nature, Able Interior Workshop presents a Tri-Koon rattan chandelier, inspired by a chada, a Thai theatrical headdress, and accented with gold shower designs to make visitors feel they are watching a Thai drama, with a scene of an actress dancing like a swaying flower.

'Co With Garden' provides shade and green cover at the Grand Postal Office.

When the Sun sets, the desolate New World shopping complex is illuminated by the exhibition "New World x Old Town Part 2: The Reflection From The Light Source That Plays Light And Sound".

It's a collaboration between Silpakorn University's Architecture and Music faculties, Hui Design Team, Saturate Designs and a few independent designers to create an eye-catching collection of nine lighting and sound installations that transports visitors back to the heyday over 40 years ago when Bang Lamphu neighbourhood was Bangkok's major commercial and retail hub.

The highlights include Light Up Our Culture, which uses Bang Lamphu's best-selling products such as school uniforms, handcrafted fashion accessories and yellow offerings to monks to represent ethnic diversity and multiculturalism, making Bang Lamphu a melting pot.

Meanwhile, the Sound Source Of Daily Life employs sound design to tell the story of people's lives and how Thai, Chinese, Mon and Lao communities have coexisted peacefully.

This exhibition is available from 5-9pm and visitors are required to register in advance via shorturl.asia/5Vpzn, with a maximum of 15 persons each round.

Bangkok Design Week 2022 runs until Feb 13 from 11am to 9pm. Find out more details at bangkokdesignweek.com.

The 'Pa Pah Designweek' exhibition showcases eco-friendly Buddha tablets made from plastic waste and recycled materials.

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