Young Thai Designers Are Making Their Mark On The Local & Global Stages
Not only known for its tourism, Thailand has many talented young designers who are locally and internationally recognised for their achievements, and over the years, the government are very supportive to develop these young talents
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has been very supportive of Thai design through many initiatives such as ongoing exhibitions, workshops, travel trade fairs, international road shows and familiarisation trips. Thailand Travel Mart in Chiang Mai was proven to be a major success, where buyers are excited to browse for handmade crafted products and contemporary arts and crafts.
Not only that, other government agencies such as the Ministry of Commerce also recognises the creativity of Thai designers through its annual Design Excellence Award. There is also another government initiative, the OTOP label, which stands for One Tambon (District) One Product project, which was established 20 years ago. Through OTOP, the government helps to identify and promote iconic products from each of the 77 provinces. To date, many OTOP products have earned global recognition and a bestseller among dealers and tourists.
Designers in Thailand are diverse—they cover many fields ranging from fashion, home design, jewels, architecture to visual arts. Fashion brands such as Greyhound, Kloset, Gin & Milk, Pomelo, Senada and Tube Gallery are now famous among millennials and well-heeled ladies. There’s also street art artist Alex Face with his iconic little man wearing a rabbit hat with a third eye has gained worldwide reputation with his painting splashed on walls across the planet.
In Thailand, designers and artists can be discovered in various places throughout the country, but there are two major centres for talents. Bangkok is the most important talent hub, as the capital offers the most opportunities with its top universities, the presence of national and international corporations, and the opportunity to enter the job market. Meanwhile, Chiang Mai is regarded as a centre for young designers, backed by a centuries-long tradition of arts and crafts that has been adapted to the taste of modern consumers.
Many experts in design will say that most of Bangkok creativity is nurtured by talents’ hailing from Chiang Mai or Northern Thailand in general. Beyond the Night Bazaar, visitors to Chiang Mai will find designer shops settled in 100-year teak houses along Charoen Rat Road, an old street adjacent to the Ping River. Nowadays, the Nimmanhaemin Road Night Market also becomes a new hot spot for hipsters and design fans to admire the latest ideas of local craftsmen. Held annually in December, the Chiang Mai Design Week celebrates its local design scene. Designers, craftspeople and creative entrepreneurs showcase their new projects and innovations in design to cater to the needs of modern living.
As the capital city, Bangkok is the centre of everything, and visitors will surely be able to find the largest choice of design objects. Bangkok shopping malls generally dedicate a large section to Thai crafts, design and fashion. Two of the most regarded malls are Siam Centre and Siam Discovery. Siam Centre, which was renovated a couple of years ago, focuses on design. All the shops are bearing a specific funky trendy style with the second and third floor focusing most on local designers. In Siam Discovery, ODS (Objects of Desire) boasts the best of Thai design spread across the fourth floor.
The fifth floor also offers a wide range of design objects linked to organic production. ODS recently opened an outlet at the brand new ICONSIAM shopping complex. Younger generations might also be more compelled to visit THAITHAI @ZEN at CentralWorld which features Thai fashion on the second floor of the Zen Department Store. If you are looking for a more affordable option, head to Terminal 21 mall at the BTS Asok station which has a large choice of products by young Thai designers, ranging from funky T-shirts to innovative design objects