Posts tagged Thailand
Mid-century Revival

The Rock House by Sunday* Architects evokes 1960s Bangkok mid-century modern living while blending into its luscious natural surroundings

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Three hours south of Bangkok, along the edge of an expansive wetland, sits a mid-century modern house. While the term ‘mid-century modern’ and a warm, tropical setting aren’t typically associated, Bangkok-based architectural design studio Sunday* Architects’ latest project is a distinctive testament to the movement. ‘In Southeast Asia, it’s rare to see mid-century design in resorts and homes; it’s not as appreciated here as it is in other parts of the world. In fact, many such homes in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit and Ekkamai areas have been knocked down to make way for new high rise condominiums or restaurants,’ explains the studio’s co-founder and director Saran Chaiyasuta. In this context, and thanks to the clients’ unconventional brief and their existing collection of mid-century objects and furnishings, the home is a delightful departure from the norm.

Sam Roi Yot, which rather evocatively means ‘the mountain with 300 peaks’, forms a striking backdrop for this three-storey loft house. The landscape is dotted with bushy wild cacti, pineapple and coconut plantations and this surrounding geography and unusually arid climate is subtly reflected in the building design. As Chaiyasuta explains, ‘the relationship between the structure and the picturesque landscape was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s directive “Hill and house should live together, each the happier for the other.”’

Nevertheless, the home appears to have been plucked straight from 1960’s Bangkok, which is exactly what the owner was hoping for. With a brief based around the client’s mid-century childhood home in the Thai capital, the architects responded with a three-bedroom property that embraces elements of mid-century modern design, from natural materials with contrasting graphic patterns to vibrant colourways and selective furnishings.

The focal point of the building is a rooftop clubhouse. Here, the open floor plan comprises a kitchen, bar, dining room and casual living room. The space also includes a scenic rooftop pool and deck which boast a 240-degree view of the nearby Sam Roi Yod mountain and are a striking spot to watch the migrating birds. The poolside patio furniture and outdoor shower evoke a Palm Springs-style aesthetic, while a solid wood dining table and oriental armchairs feature inside.

This Palm Springs aesthetic is continued in the home’s vibrant colourway, from the rich yellow of the stairway to the deep blue of the sofa and the red rock wall. Inexpensive, reddish-brown locally produced breeze blocks are used as walls throughout the house as well as on the south-facing exterior side of the building as protection from the sun. Terrazzo flooring, another mid-century modern signature, features throughout, while the building exterior uses a vibrant earth tone to stand out from but also echo the surrounding wetland.

The designers based their materials palette on the overarching concept of bringing the outside in. Rocks commonly used in road construction and found in the nearby area were used to build impact walls throughout the house, which also complement the owner’s active outdoor lifestyle and fondness for entertaining. The furnishings add a particularly personal touch. The zigzag railing on the staircase is a direct replica of the staircase in the owner’s childhood home, while their collection of Thai and Scandinavian furniture effortlessly blend together. Even the kitchenware and home accessories evoke a time of yesteryear.

The Rock House is a tropical ode to mid-century modern, blending childhood nostalgia with timeless and effortlessly cool design.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Tim Pelling

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Sustaining Tradition

Raya Heritage is a boutique hotel in Chiang Mai that tells a charming story of local artisanship and architecture without resorting to pastiche or reproduction

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In northern Thailand, culture-laden Chiang Mai has just received another jewel in the form of Raya Heritage. The boutique hotel, designed by Thai architect Boonlert Hemvijitraphan of Boon Design, stands out from the crowd of resorts for the refreshing manner in which it adopts vernacular Lanna architecture. The hotel is operated by the hotel group of Premier Group of Companies, which is dedicated to not only preserving but also promoting Thai traditional culture — be it through exhibitions, excursions, employing local craftsmen or giving back to the community by donating a portion of annual profits to charitable causes.

At Raya Heritage, Hemvijitraphan has worked his magic by creating spaces that are in harmony with their natural surroundings. Lush greenery wraps gently around the entrance, a low-key portico of white walls and layered terracotta roofs. The intimate scale here belies the dramatic, lofty foyer beyond, where statuesque timber columns frame the Ping River. The dining spaces and spa tiered around this voluminous space partake in the mise en scène of spatial drama and oneness with nature.

The plan is straightforward: an L-shape with the longer guestroom wing aligned parallel to the river; this clever gesture means all guestrooms have clear views onto the water. The spirit of traditional Lanna architecture informs the design, but its application is thoughtful. Founded over 700 years ago, the Lanna Kingdom dominated most of what is now northern Thailand, stretching from China’s Xishuangbanna Province to some parts of Myanmar. Its buildings were characterised by simplicity, serenity and humility — a reflection of its people who are bound closely to the land through their livelihoods.

In order to fit 33 rooms into the modest plot, a three-storey building was necessary. This is counter to the low-rise language of the vernacular settlement, so Hemvijitraphan’s response was to stretch the roof edges as low as possible — just enough to adjust the sense of scale without obstructing the views from the interior. Here, terracotta roof tiles add a rustic touch.

The generously sized guestrooms offer relaxed living, with large, naturally ventilated verandas that are well shaded by the deep eaves. Whitewashed walls and natural materials, in the form of woven bamboo mats, teak-framed mirrors, ceramic tiles in the bathrooms, and handmade lacquerware, grace the spaces, which are subtly themed by  indigo, black and white colour palettes.

The natural fabrics used, such as cotton, hemp, linen, are sourced from weaving cooperatives in villages that are among the last in Thailand to employ age-old methods of spinning and weaving. Throughout the hotel are fabrics dyed in a rich, deep blue colour that comes from the leaves of local indigofera tinctoria.

This fastidious attention to detail means that throughout the property there is much to see and feel. For example, brick pavers lend tactility underfoot and ‘clouds’ of lighting fixtures in the all-day-dining restaurant Khu Khao reference the threshing baskets used by Northern Thai farmers in the past.   

As the name suggests, heritage is at the heart of this retreat, but it is not merely a showpiece reconstructed wholesale. Hemvijitraphan’s deftness at weaving together equal measures of history and modernity makes the hotel a work of art that delights and charms. 

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Wison Tungthunya

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A conversation with André Fu

Hong Kong-based designer André Fu sits down with Design Anthology’s editor-in-chief to talk about his latest hotel opening, the Waldorf Astoria in Bangkok

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André Fu: So, how was your stay?

Suzy Annetta (D/A): It was good, I really enjoyed it. And it's in a really great location, it’s hard to beat. The hotel team told me that you had stayed at the original Waldorf Astoria in New York and that you drew inspiration from that. How old were you when you went over there?

André Fu: I was a teenager. I think it was my first visit to New York; I was studying in the UK at the time and hadn’t ever been to the States.

Did you go on your own or was it with family?

I had a cousin who was studying in New York at the time, so I went to stay with her. She was staying in Union Square at the time, so I wandered all the way up to 78th Street and walked back down, and I happened to just wander into the hotel. I later found out it was the Waldorf Astoria and so I had vague memories of that first visit.

So it left a bit of an impression on you then? 

Yes, it was very majestic and had that Art Deco feeling — it was very New York. For visitors it’s kind of a landmark, like seeing Tiffany’s.

Was that then something you had in mind when you started on this project? Was it something that the client wanted you to incorporate, or was it more you drawing on your memories?

André Fu: It was me drawing on my memories of the brand, and how the brand talks to me now.

So not the actual physical space?

No, not the physical space. It's just that feeling. I have worked with various brands that are very different in terms of aesthetics and even target audience. I actually enjoy working with a brand that has different aesthetics to what I’m known for, and I enjoy the challenge of marrying the two styles or getting them to talk to each other.

You told me about the building before I visited, and I know what you mean now, that obviously that it's not exactly what you would think of as a Waldorf Astoria. That’s interesting though; I've never been to the one in New York, but I have a mental image of what the Waldorf Astoria looks like.

Yeah, you think it's going to be like a Robert Stern building.

Right. Very American...sort of solid...

Very rectilinear, a facade of granite.

Yes, there's a certain image that comes to mind when you start to conjure the brand. But do you think they felt a freedom to do something quite different in Asia? Because clearly the brand is now starting to expand.

I don't know, I haven't really questioned it. I think back to when I started the project — there was just the one in Shanghai. I think that was probably one of the first Waldorf’s in Asia Pacific, including China. And for me, that's a very Waldorf building, with the colonial mansion in the front. I don't know exactly what the original building was made for, but it's very colonial, like an old bank building. And then they built a new tower right behind it. So, the notion is a bit like The Peninsula Hong Kong. It's that kind of connotation. 

Right. So there’s that history, right?

Yes. And it’s —  I don't know how to phrase it — but it's a very luxurious five-star hotel with a traditional part and then the new part. It wasn’t meant to be a dialogue between the new building and the old one. It's just a continuation of a very harmonious type of hotel environment. But it just feels right. It just makes sense. 

But the proposition in Bangkok was obviously quite different.

Yes, but I mean I wasn't thinking as much about how and what it should or could be. At the time I remember thinking that this is the beginning of a new generation (for the brand). I think Park Hyatt kind of started it, that evolution of Bangkok as a city, and then this (the Waldorf Astoria) kind of took it into a very different direction. And I'm sure there are many more that will open in the next year or so.

It seems like it, yes. 

There's quite a lot going on.

So, what I found interesting, having not been to the original Waldorf Astoria, was that there are elements that to me do seem quite ‘New York’ and Art Deco, but it also felt quite Thai at the same time. There is a sort of femininity to it but it doesn’t seem overly feminine. I think most men would still feel quite comfortable in that space and it wasn't just about ladies having high tea. I’m thinking particularly about the guest rooms. Was this a conscious decision, to try to incorporate Thai culture with an image of the original Waldorf Astoria? Or did that just kind of happen through the process?

The building was called Magnolia, and so right from the start we knew that it was inspired by the fluidity of the petals and all that. So, I was thinking about the curvature and the silhouettes and how to make the space flow. That was more of a design decision. 

We worked very closely with the local branding team called Be our friend (BOF) —  a very young talented graphic designer —  and when we thought about this fluidity we immediately thought of the Thai dancer because of how they move. Somehow, we came across an image of these dancers moving, and their hands were moving with the long nails, doing their thing. And that was how the concept began.

It's about this kind of dancing through the hotel and the petals of a magnolia flower that are translated into stone petals. So, in the space there's a lot of curved sculpted Carrara marble. We wanted it to be this kind of curated world where if you take all the screens and furniture out of the space, it’s very pure. It just kind of folds and unfolds, and it's like the marble and the curved facade are kind of talking. And then there are these moments when you turn a specific angle and you look at the three check-in desks and it’s perfectly symmetrical. But only when you're physically there do you realise that it's actually off-centre; it’s skew. There are quite a few moments like that in the hotel.

I'm remembering that now as you say it. So, the way you approached the architectural treatment of the walls and the internal space was your way of talking to the exterior?

Yes. And then when you are engaged visually with a specific moment, that's where the bronze screens come into play, which for us is characteristic of Waldorf Astoria, but we also gave them a  curve. So again, it's kind of like the Thai dancer’s hand in an embrace or a welcoming gesture. I actually learned quite a bit about what each posture represents because they have different meanings; it's quite interesting. So that’s the language that trickles down in the details. For example, the room numbering, with very intricate lettering and numbering in custom cast bronze, and then the lace pattern of the lift cars, and in the rooms the bedside screens also reflect that.

And what about the colour palette? Where did come from? It’s quite soft but I don't think it's overly feminine.

There are actually two main palettes. The standard rooms are more of a blonde wood and a peachy orange. The suite rooms are more of a mineral blue with mustard gold, dark wood and heavily textured floors.

Was there any inspiration or reason for these colour choices?

I guess the palette is still quite muted in general. There are moments when it kind of ramps up a bit, like in the lobby area. That turquoise-teal blue is something I've never used before, but for me that's a Thai colour. And then in The Front Room, the Nordic-Thai restaurant, we started off with Thai herbs as the inspiration. We were looking at the colours of the ingredients; you’ll notice lime and kefir green and galangal.

So you were trying to blend the two cultures together into that space but the colour palette came from the ingredients? 

For The Front Room, yes.

It must have been quite nice to have this separate space aside from the rest of the hotel.

Yes. I think The Brasserie and Peacock Alley (the lounge) are still very much an integral part of the overall story, whereas The Front Room is slightly more modern.

I guess there's an opportunity for it to have its own identity, especially for diners who aren’t necessarily hotel guests. But otherwise everything else felt consistently like a Waldorf Astoria. It felt very continuous and fluid. 

My favourite part is actually the spa corridor with all the fins. 

Yes, that's quite lovely. The pool is also amazing. Was the architectural feature above the pool already part of the building?

Yes, it was, it’s actually the helicopter pad. And that funnel-shaped structure is the staircase.

And you said your favourite part is the spa corridor...

Yes, I think there we have perhaps created a slightly new language. I mean, I started to ask myself whether there’s another hotel quite like this. I couldn't quite figure out if there is.

Not that I can think of. I did really like the corridor, it felt very organic, but it also felt a bit more architectural. I mean, the exterior is also sort of organic and architectural in a different language.

Yeah, and it's kind of like you can't tell whether it's very architectural or very.... well, there are certain parts that are quite decorative. But between the decorative elements there is quite a lot of space and room to breathe. There are a lot of what I call ‘empty spaces’: spaces where it's not so heavily designed, which gives it that sense of modernity as well.

I think you're right when you said that if you took all the furnishings out it would look very different. But I thought it was interesting that even though there’s a lot of marble, it doesn’t feel cold.  Is that something you thought about when you designed the space?

Well, there was also a conscious decision to use many pendant lights, so there are a lot of glowing pendants around the public area. Because there’s this glass facade, in a way we're limited in terms of what we can do. The few solid walls that we have are all around the core. They're not really around the surroundings, so it's kind of reversing a typical design scenography. But you know, obviously the view is the highlight. From a design perspective, however, if you have all that glass around you, then you're just left with furniture. So, what we did was install all these hanging pendants around to sort of guide you. I don’t think you really notice it because there's quite a lot to see otherwise, but when I mention it you notice. For example, when I point out the columns, you see all of the glowing hanging pendants. I think that softness actually ties everything together subconsciously.

So it’s the warmth of the light that makes the marble not feel so cold?

Yes, and it’s also because of the sculptural quality of the stone. It's all curved and flowing, so even within that very linear footprint, you feel like you're kind of gliding through different parts of the hotel.

Yes, you do. I did notice the pendants and I thought they were quite beautiful. And I also thought it was interesting to see how their design changed between each of the spaces; I felt like there was a language or a family of languages between some of the public spaces, aside from the restaurants with their own identity. Between the public spaces and the guest rooms, obviously the scale changes, but it seemed like there is a language that flows through. It seems like a lot of different lighting designs; how many are there?

There are many, and they were all customised. Some were made in Thailand, others made in Vietnam, and some are from China. There was a lot of customisation. I can’t imagine many others doing this kind of fit-out; it’s just quite different.

As told to / Suzy Annetta
Images / Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

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Simple Luxury

In this Bangkok apartment, the team behind design studio Anonym shaped a classy interior for a stylish client

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Every project that Thai studio Anonym works on is a new adventure. Developing a strong relationship with the client is part of the process, and the creative concept and design are landed upon after hours of discussion. Located in Thonglor, one of the most expensive areas in Bangkok, this 108-square-metre apartment exemplifies that experience.

The owner, a half-Thai half-German woman with a great sense of style, asked Anonym to renovate her dated flat. ‘We seek creative solutions that help our clients fulfil their dreams, achieve their goals and find their happiness,’ say Phongphat Ueasangkhomset and Parnduangjai Roojnawate, co-founders of Anonym, which was launched in 2016. One of their strengths is that the two designers have complementary skills: Usually more focused on the construction and exterior, Ueasangkhomset graduated from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and worked on high-rise residential and hospitality projects and large-scale office buildings in Bangkok and Singapore. More focused on interiors, Roojnawate studied interior architecture at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang and a received a Master’s Degree in Paris. ‘Our design philosophy is based on the relationship between spaces, people and contexts,’ they say.

At the onset, one of the primary concerns was the lack of natural light in the living room due to the layout and narrow space. The Anonym team addressed this issue by removing a wall, which immediately creates a better flow to the whole apartment.

The main living area comprises an open kitchen and a living room, partly separated from the dining room by a room divider with a built-in television. On each end of the apartment is a bedroom with its own bathroom.

Several original features were preserved, including the wooden flooring, which was cleaned and polished, and the cabinet in the master bedroom, which was painted black. Taking into account the client’s love of monochrome and a more classic style, the designers recommended the use of white walls with mouldings, adding sophistication to the apartment. They created a black island in the kitchen, which complements several dark pieces of furniture. Gold accessories and lighting add touches of radiance and grandeur. Most elements were custom-made or are from local designers and furniture-makers, such as the sofa by Studio128.

The use of different materials and a restrained colour palette bring harmony to the apartment. The main goal was to achieve ‘simple and luxurious at the same time,’ the duo explains.

 Interested in creating both emotions and experiences, Ueasangkhomset and Roojnawate didn’t choose the name of their studio by chance. With Anonym, they invite everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do, to come together for the project at hand.

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Chaovarith Poonphol

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A Family Affair

For most Thais, family is the foundation of social life, and multi-generational family homes are commonplace in Thai culture. This extended family home features a communal space that reflects community values, but thanks to the ample living areas never feels overcrowded

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The founders of Bangkok-based Anonym Studio, Phongphat Ueasangkhomset and Parnduangjai Roojnawate, are behind the architectural and interior design of this contemporary take on communal living.

Situated on the same 500-square-metre lot, the new house stands parallel to the owner’s original home. The two are separated by a swimming pool — an existing feature on the property — overlooked from picture windows and expansive sliding patio doors. The communal area and open view connect the homes and allow the family members to see and interact with each another, while also subtly separating public and private living spaces.

The verdant outdoor space offsets the angular structure of the new addition, designed to reflect the owner’s sleek and minimalist taste. Exposed concrete, glass and black aluminium panels effectively manage the tropical heat, create a natural flow of light and ensure privacy from outside view.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Chaovarith Poonphol

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Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
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The highly anticipated first Waldorf Astoria in Southeast Asia has just opened in Bangkok. The hotel is ideally located just a stone’s throw away from Lumphini Park, as central as it gets in Bangkok. Its 171 spacious rooms and suites have been luxuriously appointed by the in-demand André Fu and AFSO. Subtle and sophisticated design details reflect the colour, artistry and craftsmanship of Thailand. Hospitality offerings include comprehensive spa facilities, an outdoor infinity pool and three levels of distinct dining outlets crafted by global design firm AvroKO.

The Niche Showcase

If you've ever visited a jewellery and gem exhibition in Asia, you would have noticed entire sections and floors dedicated to pieces coming from Thailand. 

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A renowned source of jewellery craftsmanship, Bangkok hosts its own Gems and Jewelry Fair, taking place this September for its 62nd year, and backed by the Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, where everything from gold to diamonds is traded. But the fair also aims to spark inspiration and conversation over the various trends in the industry through The Niche Showcase, which features five main trends for the year and selected pieces that reflect those trends. 

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The first of these, called The Moment, explores accessories for special occasions, be they weddings or Chinese New Year, that are celebrated across Asia, particularly in India and China where auspicious dates and the exchange of jewellery go hand in hand. The pieces shown are influenced by nature, and are as delicate as they are intricate. Metro Men, on the other hand, displays gender-fluid pieces, like silver rings and bracelets that can be worn by both men and women, all in a textured rope motif that gives the jewellery a more casual touch. Pieces in line with the Spiritual Power trend are inspired by ancient beliefs in healing gemstones and the mystical nature of certain stones, some of which prevail today. Think a hammered silver necklace stamped with animal-head figures to evoke the spirit animals of yore.

The Beyond Jewellery section explores pieces outside of traditionally worn jewellery. Extending into the lifestyle space with phone cases that have decorative elements made from precious stones, the accessories are often as luxurious as jewellery themselves. And last but not least, the crown jewel (pun intended) of the show this year is the Heritage and Craftsmanship section, which highlights jewellery honouring cultural influences and local savoir faire. Beautiful representations come in the form of asteroid-shaped earrings from the Big Bang collection inspired by the raw shapes and space-like hues of tourmaline, and geometric gold and opal earrings from The Compass Collection inspired by the ancient tools of navigation. 

Guests will also have a chance to go behind the curtain of this showcase and witness live jewellery making demonstrations by the masters from the Thai Goldsmith Association, where tricks of the trade like invisible setting, gemstone carving and metal forming will be performed.

Text / Chloe Tan


Green Energy

As our cities grow ever denser and ever more grid-locked with urban traffic, clever architects are finding ways to integrate multiple functions into single structures, in a sustainable manner.

Architects Waranyu Makarabhirom and Sonthad Srisang of Bangkok-based TA-CHA Design were commissioned by their client Premium Ice to do just that. The resulting three-storey building occupies a 1,500 square metre footprint on the outskirts of the Thai capital with an ice factory on the ground floor, office space on the second floor and a private residence perched on the third.

The primary objective in designing the building was to create a pleasant working/living environment full of natural light and passive cooling that reduced a reliance on unsustainable energy sources. TA-CHA has achieved this through large fenestrations and translucent roofing that punctuate the space while flooding it with sunlight from all sides. Grilled openings allow for natural cross- ventilation, reducing the need for air conditioning.

The resulting open-plan space feels airy and ideal for collaborative work. An abundance of greenery throughout provides another low-tech way of keeping the space cool while reducing the structure's carbon footprint.

In the residence above, the same principles of sustainable design and passive cooling apply with the addition of a special water-recycling system that draws runoff from the ice factory below to irrigate the surrounding lush landscaping. Using reclaimed wood as the primary building material lends a sense of warmth, while further minimising environmental impact.

By living and working in the one space, the owner reduces his reliance on petroleum, while also cutting down on his daily commute in Bangkok’s notorious traffic. Now that’s clever.

Text / Suzy Annetta
Images / BeerSingnoi

Rosewood Phuket

Ideally located at Emerald Bay with stunning views out over the Andaman Sea, the new Rosewood Phuket features innovative sustainable design elements combined with contemporary architecture to blend effortlessly in with the tropical landscape for a luxury beachfront escape. Its 71 villas — each with its own plunge pool — various dining options, plus a relaxed pool bar and after-hours lounge mean you’ll have everything you need for the full holiday experience. The property’s integrated wellness concept Asaya is but extra.

137 Pillars

A visit to 137 Pillars Bangkok begins with a stylish transfer in the property’s customised London cab. A sister property to the award-winning Chiang Mai outpost, the Bangkok location similarly extends the tradition of unparelleld hospitality and refined luxury, with 34 exquisitely appointed suites by P49 Deesign.  On-site gourmet dining options include the hotel’s signature Leonowens Club, Jack Bain’s Bar and Cigar Divan, and the haute cuisine restaurant Nimitr featuring Thai favourites with a molecular twist. A 32nd-floor sky bar and rooftop infinity pool are but extras.

Rising Stars

At this spring's Maison&Objet Asia, six young designers were recognised for their budding talent and growing contribution to an Asian design scene. In Issue 5, we featured excerpts taken from interviews with these young designers and are please to bring you the full, unabridged content of those interviews below.

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CHIHIRO TANAKA, JAPAN

Can you briefly describe your work?

My designs explore the multifarious expressions of light through an ongoing series of creative experiments that involve studying the properties of heat-resistant materials, repeatedly testing illumination-producing electric bulbs for permeability and glare, and giving form to unique ideas in a way that resembles a couturier’s draping technique. By using the same process employed in haute couture dressmaking — first study the materials and then design the product — my ‘light couture’ is a study in intimate interactions of light and materials.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

It’s not just the illumination of space that I hope people experience; I want to bring a sense of harmony to people and their feelings through light. Whether switched on or off, a lighting fixture is an important design element of any space and a conspicuous part of daily life. I want to help create refined and inspirational spaces in which to spend relaxing and inspirational time.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

I dreamt of becoming a designer since childhood because I loved drawing and

playing with tiles from my father’s workshop.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

I have a fairly extensive knowledge of fashion and textile design and like to research newly developed

materials. All materials, from yarn to metal, stimulate my curiosity.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

The techniques of experienced craftsmen. I am always impressed by their technical prowess when I visit a factory. These people are always searching for ways to bring out the very best of their skills.

Can you name your top three influences?

Techniques of craftsmen; Family; Japan’s distinctive four seasons

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am currently trying to link people closely together and respond to the Japanese sense of aestheticism. I am trying to find light that draws up closely and embrace people, and am making new lighting equipment that brings harmony to the everyday scenery of people’s lives.

Image 2

Image 2

EASE, THAILAND

Can you briefly describe your work?

We are an embroidery design studio based in Bangkok, combining industrial embroidery, art and craftsmanship to create experimental designs that bridge traditional techniques with new, experimental forms. We hope to create new experiences of textile art and embroidered products.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

We recreate ordinary yet meaningful objects that reflect our everyday lives. By observing and exploring things that surround us, we seek to integrate emotional value into our products. We hope that people will realise how much design can be a part of their lives.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We like to create new experiences of textile art and products by bridge traditional technique with experimental new technique.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

If we have a very short time - talking, eating and drinking.

If we have a short time - go to the museum, events and exhibitions.

If we have a long time – traveling

Can you name your top three influences?

Our families; Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec; Atelier 2+

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

We want to contribute to the development of our country on the world stage through art and design.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

A new collaboration called 'Issaraphap' (Issaraphap is Thai meaning ‘Independent’)

We hope to bridge Thai culture values to contemporary design by challenging the conventional creation of objects through industrial processes, as well as to tell Thai stories through design objects that maintain the character of materials, production and local creativity.

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Image 3

KIMU DESIGN, TAIWAN

Can you briefly describe your work?

In our latest New Old Light, it is the contrasting qualities of peaceful and dynamic that sets KIMU on its journey to discovering new soul in old living objects. The traditional form and function of an oriental paper lantern meets with Western design aesthetics and is transformed into a beautiful new shape for the modern-day lifestyle.

The deconstruction and reinterpretation of a cultural imagery can also be seen in The New Old Vase when it disassociates itself from having an inherent volume, leaving only a linear structure that blurs the distinct personalities between the East and West.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

Besides being poetic in bridging conflicting elements, our designs also allow plenty of room for the user’s imagination and interaction thanks to their playful setups. Even though the creative balance of form and function is essential, every product is only truly complete when it is being used and loved in everyday life.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

Ketty realised when she was a child but Kelly and Alex only realised after graduation from the college of Industry design department.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We use primarily wood, paper and metal in our designs. These materials are nostalgic, while also relating for people the warm feeling of being touched.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

We love ancient culture and museums a lot.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

KIMU pop-up shops all over the world.

Working with craftsmen from different countries.

Seeing people use KIMU designs in their homes.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

Our aim is to complete the KIMU New Old Collection, so we’ll keep designing mirrors, clocks and side tables to launch later this year.

Image 4 (needs to be mirrored)

Image 4 (needs to be mirrored)

LAB DE STU, AUSTRALIA

Can you briefly describe your work?

LAB DE STU is a design collective based out of Australia representing three designers — Adam Lynch, Dale Hardiman and André Hnatojko. Thus, the work produced by LAB DE STU is quite diverse due to the variety of interests we each have in design.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

The particular typologies we explore tend to be fairly static and are used throughout commercial spaces, therefore can be somewhat forgotten. We can only hope that people notice our work within these spaces. The difference between the commercial and non-commercial output of LAB DE STU is that we’re producing objects for a particular purpose and space. The non-commercial works seek to explore unknown territory.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

I’m not sure if there was any particular defining point for any of us to immediately decide to be a designer. André had previously studied interior design and decided to change to furniture, Adam had studied woodwork throughout secondary education and Dale had no interest in design until beginning university after not first getting into fine arts.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We tend to work across all materials as we do not want to be restricted to only a single medium. We are constantly learning by working with new materials and their processes. There may be a particular material we seem to keep revisiting in our commercial pieces and that tends to be the availability of that material or process with manufacturing in Australia.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

We like to believe we draw inspiration from everyday life, but a more direct inspiration would be from visiting factories and building relationships with those who make our objects. Due to the limitations of manufacturing in Australia, we explore simple forms with achievable outcomes so that we aren’t just producing high-end products.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

That's such an incredibly difficult question to answer, as the further our practices develop, the more areas and disciplines we find ourselves attracted too. It’d be fairly selfish to say ‘design a product for a major furniture and lighting brand’, so a dream project would most likely be to be given a budget to produce editioned works for a major gallery without commercial constraints.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

LAB DE STU is not just a company that produces objects. As a collective it represents three different designers, all with varying interests. We also run exhibitions through 1-OK CLUB, Dowel Jones is having its first solo exhibition next month and together we are planning on a potential retail front.

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Image 5

LEKKER ARCHITECTS, SINGAPORE

Can you briefly describe your work?

We are a small, inter-disciplinary design studio based in architecture. We work on a wide range of project types from residential and institutional buildings to landscapes, interiors, events and project furniture. We have a special focus on design for children and families.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

We always hope that our projects will promote a sense of playfulness and surprise. Our work is intended to contrast those kinds of architecture that take themselves too seriously and are too prescriptive in telling users how to occupy or experience the space. In designing for children, we have learned to relax and to enjoy the unexpected and imaginative ways in which our users inhabit our works; in many ways we think of their contribution as the second half of the design process.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

For Josh, it was in high school. He became very interested in avant-garde architects (mainly postmodernists) who believed that architecture could shape and influence human social experiences. There was a comic book called Mr. X about a masked designer who invented ‘psychotecture’— a way that certain forms could make people think and feel different things. This seemed too exciting to pass up.

Shing became interested in architecture in college. She had been studying math and art history, and was most attracted to learning about buildings. Like Josh, she was very interested in the way that architecture could affect human emotions and interactions.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

Our material is space, basically. There are many physical materials in architecture — we like concrete and timber in particular — but these really all serve to create a larger environment. It’s the latter that makes architecture unique from other art forms, and gives it a special impact. We like space because it can only be partially controlled; no matter how accurately we model or visualise our project, there are surprises. Space seems to have a will of its own, like a co-designer, and brings with it moods and emotive atmospheres that feel larger than our design ideas could ever be.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Honestly, most of our inspiration is drawn from outside design. We are influenced by cartoons, food, dreams and music. Much of our process, at the early stages, has to do with translating creative ideas into architecture from a different medium. For example, we are very interested in the way that Brian Eno layers sounds in his songs; the ideas behind his method have been recorded in a card game called Oblique Strategies. We have been trying to develop an architectural equivalent for years. It hasn’t happened yet, but we are still trying!

Can you name your top three influences?

Tom & Jerry, Charles Mingus, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

Probably a church or a mosque — we have always been especially interested in religious and ‘transformative’ spaces because they distil very intense human emotions in a single building.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

This year is interesting for us because it seems to be a return to houses. We are working on planning two inter-generational family homes here in Singapore. This is very interesting because it somewhat resembles an Asian family compound with up to four separate wings or generations of one lineage in a single building. It’s both an old and a new type, given that it’s being re-born in the dense Asian cities of today where real estate is expensive and space is limited. The new version hasn’t been developed yet, but it has elements of the house and something larger, like a small hotel, resort or dormitory. This is a really interesting thing for us to explore, and it’s very close to home — we live in an inter-generational home ourselves.

Image 6 (needs to be mirrored)

Image 6 (needs to be mirrored)

STANLEY RUIZ, PHILIPPINES

Can you briefly describe your work?

My work is a poetic attempt at expressing form and function in material terms.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

I hope that when people encounter my work, they will experience the sublime.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

It was during my sophomore year in art school when I realised the practicality and necessity of design.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

I like the material to be open to exploration and manipulation.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Experimental, global folk, punk, and noise music have been constant sources of inspiration.

Can you name your top three influences?

Andrea Branzi – his work is poetry in 3D

Campana Brothers - for their original and distinct expression

Movement 8 - the group of Filipino designers who were able to break through the international design scene and paved the way for younger designers like myself

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

Designing my live/work space in a lush tropical landscape overlooking the sea (or the city, at least).

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

A sculptural piece for a hotel restaurant, new lighting and home product design for the upcoming Manila FAME show and an exhibition in New York, among others.

Alexander Lamont - Designer Artisan

We love this new video by Alexander Lamont with insights into the process, techniques and materials that he works with and combines in unique ways in his Bangkok studio. This is the first in a series of Designer Artisan video shorts that studio plans to produce, and follows the making of the Amaranth table with cast bronze legs and a gilded shagreen top.

Keemala

Located in the lush woodlands of Phuket, the new Keemala resort features distinctive architecture from the talented Thai firm Space Architects. The use of natural features such as mature trees, streams and waterfalls and the integration of these into the overall design results in the feel of a valley village, albeit a luxury one. All suites are fitted with private dip pools and a range of either sea or mountain views. A full-service spa is available, as well as multi-day holistic retreat packages.

Perfect Retreat

A stunning private getaway designed by Hong Kong-based South African Deborah Oppenheimer

The most successful interior designers know that the perfect project goes well beyond knowing how to create balance, proportion, harmony and rhythm in a space. Understanding their client before they choose a single piece of furniture is the most important decision.

This is particularly true when it comes to creating a home, observes Hong Kong- based designer Deborah Oppenheimer, who says one of her favourite projects was for an American family looking to create a holiday home on the east coast of Phuket.