Creative Director Satit Kalawatavanich of Thai industrial design studio Propaganda talks with Habitus Magazine. This story from Andrea Miller in Habitus issue 01.
When you see the work of design studio Propaganda established by a grouo of advertising executives in 1994, you could be mistaken for assuming their quirky, everyday products come out of one of the world’s established design sities – Amsterdam or Berlin, or maybe, even London. But How about Bangkok?
Meet creative director Satit Kalawatavanich and product designer Ankul Assavaviboonpan, new faces of Thai design who sue humour in design as a weapon, and then export it to over 40 countries worldwide.
Q: Is Propaganda an unusual design studio for Thailand, or is Thai design less traditional these days?
A: Propaganda is not alone in Thailand, there are many contemporary design studio here but due to Propaganda’s growth and success, it seems we have come to represent Thailand in a global creative industry. Although Thailand’s design industry is changing, traditional design is still the country’s signature and has it’s foundation in cheap labour, crafts ad the use of natural materials like bamboo, Teak, straw, rattan. However, basic wages and our natural materials aren’t cheap anymore, and this is changing our design landscape.
Q: Why else is contemporary design gaining ground in Thailand?
A: City folk in Thailand are changing. There has been a lot of growth and development in our behaviour and attitude toward trends and fashion. In response, modern design in Thailand has improved in the past 10 years in many areas: fashion, product, furniture and interior design and architecture. We are moving forward and creating a new image for the country.
Q: Describe some of Propaganda’s most popular products.
A: We have over200 products, on e of our most successful product categories is a character we call Mr. P. This figure is deliberately quirky and naughty.. Asian consumers tend to love design that evokes an emotional response, so Mr,. P works well all over Asia. In fact he is loved in many markets around the world where design that creates a connection to human emotions is preferred over purely functional products. These markets seem to be growing, signaling a design trend. People want to feel a connection to things around them.
Q:Tradionally what are the major differences between how Asia and the West design products?
A: Design in Asia is still on its own path to discovery. We’re in a transition. I can only ay that our culture will play a major role in driving design here. Mumbai’s design, Shanghai’s design and Nagoya’s design all hold their own individual value in their unique roots. We need to find Thailand’s version of that and work out how to communicate it to the world trough materials and technology.
For the full story get Habitus issue 01. Subscribe to Habitus here