After knowing him for some time, we discovered that what “Chef Kong” or Kongwut Chaiwongkajorn does is not merely cooking, but a new way of storytelling through food. He draws inspiration from real life and experiences about different ingredients in the context of the Northern culture. Instead of words, he cooks and creates stories through world-class cooking skills and knowledge.
Weaving is one of the most common skills in Thai handicraft. The knowledge has been passed on from one generation to the next in each community, which has its own unique practices in terms of materials, patterns, colors, forms, and utilities. Woven products that most of us are familiar with include sticky rice containers, baskets, bags, and fish traps. These items are mainly used in the countryside. Needless to say, woven products in the world of fashion and home accessories are often regarded by city dwellers as outdated and incompatible with their lifestyles.
Would you be surprised if I told you that the lime green chairs that appeared in one of the scenes in the Hunger Games (2012), an American science fiction-drama film, were named the “Sexy Chair” and created from scrap seatbelt strapping by Thai product designer Nuttapong Charoenkitivarakorn? Once strapped over someone’s waist, these former seatbelts have been repurposed into functional furniture, under the brand Sculpture.
The voice from another end reflected how neat the speaker was. Her rhythm was slow, light and polite which matched with her brand “Pabpiabriabroy”. Wirin Shaowana unintentionally built a brand from her passion in papers. Wirin loved flowers. Ten years ago, she got inspiration from Sakul Intarakul, the famous Thai florist. His beautiful book of flower designs and patterns became her intellectual source. She created her flowers in monotone geometry shapes. Wirin wanted to present alternative Thai flowers; reduced delicacy yet increased strength and omitted colors yet preserved forms.
Growing up in a family own steel factory in Suksawat area was not a pleasant experience. The noise of stamping, bending and welding machines were like a daily alarm clock for Pin, Saruta Kiatparkpoom. However, her negative opinion changed when she, as a sophomore student in university, started working with her dad. Pin created art piece by steel scraps for Art Environment class. Later on, she extended this project to an art thesis by screening life stories of her factory’s workers on steel sheet. This experience shifted her to positive perspective toward value of every lives in her steel factory and her Kiatparkpoom’s family business. Upon completion of her bachelor degree, Saruta participated in many seminars hosted by government and private sectors to build up her design and business skills. She then decided to create her brand, “PiN” where unique steel identity was created. Her business concept is simple and clear, “Do my best every day…the sound of working machines is the sound of my workers and family’s breaths. We will keep walking steadily.”
In case where you haven’t heard of it already, MeamtarnArtwork is a Thai brand born out of the creativity of a woman who loves to travel, Sithana Chuen-ankgoon, also known as Meamtarn. Driven by her passion in handicraft and a strong desire not to become one of the salaried people, and thanks to her previous job experience as advertising sales agent and media planner, her knowledge of handicrafts gathered while traveling to various countries, and her skills in knitting and weaving on a portable loom, she has been able to create unique handmade bags. The most amazing thing about them is that there have been no two bags of this brand that are exactly alike!
Bangkok does not represent all of Thailand. Ways of life differ from one region to another. Inhabitants of secondary towns have their own ways of life, including those in the southern town of Nakhon Si- Thammarat. Though classified as a secondary town, Nakhon Si Thammarat has much to offer, especially in the world of design and contemporary handicraft which is experiencing an unprecedented boom.
Food was not the only thing the Chinese diaspora brought over to Yaowarat or Thailand’s Chinatown. Tucked away in the alley of “Charoen Chai” is an ancient Chinese paper-folding culture waiting to be experienced.
Looking back to its history, the “alms bowl village community” or Ban Bat is one of the oldest communities that had migrated to Bangkok since the era of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Originally, they were blacksmiths making alms bowls for monks, a skill passed down through the generations. In 1998, a factory manufacturing stainless steel alms bowls was established.
Many recognize “Chakrabhand Posayakrit” as one of the 52 master craftsmen in the past 200 years of the Rattanakosin Kingdom. His expertise lies in traditional Thai paintings that portray literary female characters with such delicateness that they seem to have hailed straight from a dream.