Tag Archives: Thailand

Thai crafts have an auspicious future

Thailand’s International Innovation Craft Fair represents a substantial commitment to the support of its crafts within a global context. The fair is organised by the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACIST). It includes an Innovative Craft Award, New Heritage Exhibition, Prototype Product Design Gallery, Craft Trend Exhibition, Mobile Gallery and more than 300 booths. Behind the scenes, it is the occasion for three significant MOUs involving the Intellectual Property Department, Thammasat University and National Discovery Museum.

The Thai crafts were quite impressive. Booths were organised in dense Bangkok style and filled with the latest products. I particularly liked the This Means That versions of Thai folk deities, Benjametha ceramics from the Muslim south, and the light fitting made in collaboration with birdcage craftspersons by Supachi Klawtanong.  Outside Thailand, the Lao textiles were outstanding, alongside the stylish textiles from Edric Ong’s studio, and impressive contributions from Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. Beyond ASEAN, there were high quality products from India, Kygystan,  Taiwan, Syria, Iran and even Peru.

To complement the displays was a day-long seminar on ASEAN crafts, which featured wonderfully articulate and interesting designers and craftspersons from the breadth of South-East Asia. Pham Huyen Kieu from Vietnam’s Haki Craft was particularly impressive in his advocacy of co-crafting community as a way of attracting more young people. At the end, the speakers reflected on the common threads between their approaches. They all agreed that ASEAN designers shared a common commitment to supporting and using their local crafts.

Despite its scale, the Craft Fair still has room to evolve. The emphasis in craft innovation tends to be on home decoration. But there are only a limited number of light fittings or stools that can be sold, and there will always be stiff competition from cheaper industrial versions. Traditional crafts in Thailand are often tied to their rich array of cultural rituals. The challenge ahead is to find ways of adapting these rituals to modern lifestyles. Many rituals involve good luck. Today’s designers and makers have much to gain in adding auspiciousness to their products. Form, function and fortune would be a winning combination.

For more information about the fair, go to the Facebook page.


Saovaluck Pannont–a new Thai jewellery artist

Saovaluck Pannont

Saovaluck Pannont

Saovaluck Pannont trained in jewellery at the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand. Grace represents a new generation of Thai jewellers that adopt the position of jeweller as artist to create original works that express an individual vision. To sustain this practice, Grace has also developed her own brand, Stogari.

For Welcome Signs, Grace’s work reflects a contemporary Thai jeweller that draws on her culture’s love of adornment, though rather than jasmine petals she uses stones and seeds.

Saovaluck Pannont, necklace, carnelian, onyx, agate, garnet, crystals swarovski, siver 92.5, seed beads

Saovaluck Pannont, necklace, carnelian, onyx, agate, garnet, crystals swarovski, siver 92.5, seed beads

Artist Statement

I grew up among the Lanna culture surrounded by plenty of local outstanding arts in Chiangmai, the well-known city with long history back to 19th century. I am experienced with multinational culture derived from people around the world since Chiangmai is now famous destination for tourist.

Driven by my own fascination since childhood with easy lifestyle of Lanna Culture. I have enough time to make my own things and jewelry with my own style that comes from creativity and imagination. I begin to make my first jewelry six years ago.

I create it by my own method. I start my works with Sterling Silver and semi-precious stones. I absorb powerful and outstanding characters from these natural resources, then make it become necklace, ear rings and bracelet.

I intend to make each of my work a masterpiece which is similar to no one.

Winita Kongpradit’s photo-garland

Winita Kongpradit

Winita Kongpradit

Winita Kongpradit began her art education in Japan and then completed her graduate and post-graduate studies at the College of Fine Art, University of NSW, Australia. Since then she has been working as a jewellery designer in Thailand.

Her phuang malai transforms a floral garland into a contemporary wreath, decorated with a wash of images. The work evokes the stream of images that constitute identity in social networks like Facebook. While on the one hand it can be seen as a celebration of desire and friendship, on the other it seems to reflect an indiscriminate sea of images with which we are now awash.

Winita  Kongpradit Other Self Coloured Zinc, Paper, Found Object, Resin, 2010

Winita Kongpradit Other Self Coloured Zinc, Paper, Found Object, Resin, 2010

Artist statement

Jewellery are the most efficient way to accomplish my art work, which is considered a combination of media, drawing and writing. My cultural background is usually reflected through the work. Inspiration came from things happen around me. Images which occur in my works are linked to experiences of the traditional Asian based content of my heritage and the influence of the technology in today’s life.

The world we live is now changing so fast that we miss a lot of things significantly without realizing. This piece is trying to capture my personal memory. It comes out of the need for proof of existence, and proof of identity. They are images of my existing from the past, and represent my desire to create the impossible because these images had now physically disappeared. Each one has an individual narrative story as an outlet self – expression. Objects which I made have came straight out from my memory. They are bounded around the same way as the Thai traditional “Phuang Malai” has been made.

These objects contradicted their survival in today’s world. The continued use of different images represents my sometimes unapproachable memory. It is an illusion of something that is full of happiness, at the same time empty, containing nothing but sadness.

Winita Kongpradit is a participant in the exhibition Welcome Signs.

Vinit Koosolmanomai – jewellery for the blind

Vinit Koosolmanomai

Vinit Koosolmanomai

Vinit Koosolmanomai studied jewellery at the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences, in Bangkok. He then travelled to San Francisco where he took specialist workshops at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Art.

For Welcome Signs, Vinit has produced a series of necklaces that are designed to be worn by blind people. For this, he has focused on the quality of sound – a dimension not often considered in jewellery. He has created necklaces made from tiny bells of many colours woven together.

The idea came to him while playing with bells in his studio. To realise the project, Vinit worked with an organisation for the blind called Kow-Mai, which means ‘new step’. Photographs of blind people wearing the necklaces were taken by his associated Pichai. The necklaces are then exhibited alongside the photographs and all money from sales is returned to the organisation. According to Vinit, the participants enjoyed the sounds of the necklace greatly, but also wanted information about how they looked as well, even if this wasn’t something they could experience directly.

According to Vinit, ‘the important thing is to let them know that people still care about them.’ In the context of Welcome Signs, Vinit’s work asks the interesting question of how we make welcome those who can never fully belong to the same world.

In Thai culture, the phuang malai is a floral garland that symbolises beauty and respect. While blind persons can smell the jasmine scent, they are unable to enjoy its visual beauty. Vinit has given a new dimension to the garland with the addition of sound. It also makes us ask some important questions:

  • What is the ongoing role of the participants? We get to see images of them wearing the work, but what do they get from us?

Vinit provides a broader audience with a taste of the new contemporary jewellery emerging from Thailand. If Vinit’s work is anything to go by, then we might expect new work that approaches jewellery from left field, probing its shared value. According to Vinit; ‘My interest in jewellery comes from my surprise that people would like to wear jewellery. In some cases, they have to experience pain before they can wear jewellery.’ Thai jewellery is bound to surprise.

For more contemporary Thai jewellery, visit Atta Gallery.

Vinit Koosolmanomai jewellery worn by participants in his project

Vinit Koosolmanomai jewellery worn by participants in his project

Vinit Koosolmanomai’s work will be on display in Welcome Signs: Contemporary Interpretations of the Garland.

Welcome Signs – early notice

Var mala exchange of garlands at Indian wedding (photo by k♥money on Creative Commons license)

Var mala exchange of garlands at Indian wedding (photo by k♥money on Creative Commons license)

Var mala exchange of garlands at Indian wedding (photo by k♥money on Creative Commons license)

Early notice of an exhibition of jewellery from the Asia Pacific region

The World Craft Council are hosting a conference in New Delhi, 4-6 February 2011. The event is titled Abhushan: Tradition & Design – Dialogues for the 21st Century. A key element in this event is a series of exhibitions surveying jewellery from different world regions.

For the Asia Pacific region, works will be gathered that respond to the theme of welcome, using the garland as a reference. These garlands are typically given to honoured guests and are either made of flowers or have a floral design.

At a time when there are tensions regarding global migration flows, it seems important that we sustain traditions of welcome. But given limited access to flowers, are there alternative materials that can be used? Also, can these otherwise ephemeral works be transformed into longer-lasting objects, such as jewellery, that can testify to bonds of friendship.

The Asia Pacific region has a rich set of traditions that bestow a garland or neck-wreath. These include:

  • var mala ceremony in Indian weddings
  • phuang malai Thai garland
  • East Timorese tais
  • salusalu welcome wreaths and leis from the Pacific
  • selendang (welcome) in Indonesia
  • medals in Australasia

The exhibition Welcome Signs: contemporary interpretations of traditional garlands will contain works that draw from such traditions for use today. At early this stage, expressions of interest are welcome. Please send them by 30 June 2010 to welcome@craftunbound.net.