Ordinarily, when you think of products from Thailand, cheap designer knock-offs may come to mind. What people fail to realize is that Thailand has its own fascinating and burgeoning design scene, with projects that range from furniture to cutting edge eco-design. Juxtaposing traditional crafts with contemporary aesthetics, Thailand began to explore sustainable design and ‘green’ products long before anyone else. With some ingenious innovations and creative yet simple ideas, Thai eco-design is not only streets ahead of the rest of the design world conceptually, but is also in many cases, highly achievable due to the country’s abundance of high quality natural materials.
Since its foundation in 1989, Yothaka have been pioneering the use of numerous eco-friendly and renewable materials, including the water hyacinth weed, Pineapple paper, and more recently PE (polyurethane polyethylene compound) plastic, which is easily recyclable. Creating a range of designer furnishings catered to the middle-upper class lifestyle, the 182 staff company also create handmade home accessories using these materials. High quality craftsmanship is a key element of their work, and they are constantly recreating their collections, designing new models every year to keep them fresh. Offering a large array of in-house designed furniture and accessories, Yothaka offer beautiful lifestyle concepts with uniquely Asian characteristics. By mixing modern design with the traditional and keeping the material focus eco-friendly, Yothaka provides a classic example of quality Thai furniture design.
One of the leaders of Thailand’s thriving wood industry, Deesawat was founded in 1972 and is located in a 30,000 m2 production space. With its own highly sophisticated wood working facilities, Deesawat can ensure their products are of the highest quality. A specialist for saw milling, the company seeks to create innovative designs into which they can diversify their practice. From flooring to doors and outside furniture, Deesawat works with Teak wood in addition to other exciting materials such as aluminium and PE rattan. As a young and dynamic company, Deesawat endeavors to produce excellence in design with high attention to detail and craftsmanship. This is evident in their newly developed Green Wall modular system. Beautifully crafted wooden shelves provide ample space for growing plants in a small space and can be used to transform an interior.
Founded in 1994, Ayodhya is a leading home decorative brand from Thailand offering unique handicraft objects, with the water hyacinth being their signature material. The founder, M. L. Pawinee Sukhasvasti, was originally involved in a rural development research project that designed innovative ways to remove water hyacinth from Thailand’s waterways due to it wreaking havoc on local eco-systems. Since the company’s inception, Ayodhya has pioneered the use of water hyacinth as a means to create all manner of household objects, ranging from traditional baskets to lighting and textiles. In addition to water hyacinth, Ayodhya uses other natural fibers such as hemp and cotton that are sourced from rural Thai villages. Therefore, not only does the company have a clear ecological ethic, it is also dedicated to social issues, providing income for the villages and improving their communities.
With over 25 years of experience in the wood-work and export sector, Lovewood is a company that prides itself on creating high quality wooden home-ware, as well as flooring products.Their beautiful objects from native woods have a clear ecological ethic and Lovewood partook in the ‘Waste to Wealth’ initiative at the Thailand International Furniture Fair (TIFF), 2011. This project raised awareness about the vast amount of waste produced by the industrial sector. Lovewood thus created a range of furniture from what might otherwise been thrown away in the timber industry.
Baan Tawai is not simply a design studio. It is, in fact, an entire village dedicated to a number of traditional Thai handicrafts such as textiles and exquisite woodcarving. Known as a major cultural attraction in the Chiangmai province for Thai and foreign visitors alike, Baan Tawai is the home of high quality products. Numerous craft practices have been passed down over the generations for some 40 years, and the village prides itself on the wide range of products made here. Although woodcarving is the primary skill, there are many others to be seen in this fascinating and unique village. One can also find beautifully made and decorated furniture, silverware, lacquer ware, hand-woven textiles, basketry and earthenware. If ever you find yourself travelling through Thailand, Baan Tawai is a village like no other and is certainly not to be missed.
Home decoration boutique Corner 43 Décor, a company with a strong social and ethical presence, has been producing fine artisan furniture since 1987. Based in Bangkok, the company creates beautiful, hand-made, contemporary furniture. Dedicated to finding ways of giving back to the planet and society, Corner 43 Décor takes as little as possible from natural resources, ensuring all their materials are responsibly sourced. They also use rattan as a material as it can be easily grown and replenished, making it a more eco-friendly material than wood. Additionally, the transport costs are less as the crop is easier to harvest. Therefore, overall, less heavy polluting machinery is needed for its production. Furthermore, it is a fast growing material that is easily recyclable as well as biodegradable.
Since graduating in 2005 with a degree in Industrial Design from King’s Mongkut Institute Of Technology, Ladkrabang, Apirat Boonruangthaworn has come on leaps and bounds in terms of design practices. Focusing specifically on creating products and furniture based upon his own philosophy, Boonruangthaworn has been working independently since 2009. Since then he has produced a collection of outdoor chairs and tables from recycled aluminium waste. Entitled SMood, this collection recasts the waste aluminium to create the joints and tubes required for the assembly of the furniture. During the manufacturing process, there is absolutely no waste; the leftover material is melted down to be reused for the next piece of furniture. Assembled via screws and o-rings to make the pieces easy to build and dismantle, no welding is required, therefore also allowing for variation in the design. With the seat itself being handmade from PE (polyethylene) rattan, this furniture is perfect for outdoor public spaces as it is resilient to adverse weather conditions.
The Bangkok based company, New Arriva Co. Ltd. have created a collection, entitled Qualy, made from 100% recyclable materials. In 2011 they won the prestigious Thai design excellence award for the Qualy collection. Fun, colorful and slightly bizarre, the Qualy collection has a number of useable products as well as decorative items which also have an environmental message. This is clearly visible in the Polar Bear Ice Bucket, which, whilst serving a useful purpose, also has a concise message about the melting polar icecaps. The melting ice drips through the bucket into a chamber underneath where a polar bear can be seen standing on a tiny iceberg. The choice of material for each product is carefully considered to ensure longevity and suitability for the item itself.
Founded in 1989 in Bangkok, STONE&STEEL are recognized as one of Thailand’s most prominent modern furniture companies. Continually pushing the boundaries of modern design, the design team are highly creative, coming up with innovative structures by paying close attention to every detail of the design process. To celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary, STONE&STEEL decided to recreate the iKON lounge chair using new craft and technological processes. Using renewable materials, it gives the chair longevity and lessens its impact on the environment. Inspired by the shape of cut gems, the chair comes in a wire framed form with polished stainless steel rods welded together. It also comes in a solid form using origami techniques for folding stainless steel metal sheets. This chair celebrates raw materials, the combination of craft skills and production techniques, and exudes durability.
Thinkk Studio is formed by the innovative design duo, Decha Archjananun and Ploypan Theerachai, both of whom trained as interior architects. Looking to blur the boundaries between Eastern and Western design, as well as between craft and industry, Thinkk Studio are fascinated by the interplay of contrasting materials and shapes, frequently incorporating industrial materials into their product designs. Also interested in the use of play as a methodology for the design process itself, Thinkk based the concept for their Const desk lamp upon three simple elements: a base, body and shape. The components combine a child-like expression with utility and function. The frame is octagonal in shape and held in place by a marble base. The lamp itself is made from aluminium and is available in a number of bold colors. Easily constructed, this is a fun yet simple design that uses quality materials to make a durable product.