Bangkok Design Week 2019: old, new, and ultra-new

Bangkok Design Week 2019 Photo 30-1-2562 BE 14 12 22

The second Bangkok Design Week is well underway in the Thai capital. From January 26 to February 3, 2019, the Bangkok Design Week 2019 promotes Thai and international design, crafts, and creativity through exhibitions, workshops, seminars, discussions, and experiences.

Mostly located around the riverside on Charoen Krung Road, the design festival that is organized by the Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC) under the Office of the Prime Minister gives visitors an opportunity to glance into the future.

Under the theme ‘Fusion Forward’ multidisciplinary design areas are showcased including experimental design, crossover, co-creation, as well as traditional practices, century-old crafts.

Currently fighting high levels of air pollution in Bangkok, makes citizens and visitors more aware of the pressing environmental issues that humanity is facing. While the Bangkok Design Week 2019 doesn’t (yet) focus so much on the air purification challenge, it is a huge inspiration in the field of ‘reduce, recycle, reuse, refuse’ area and the social impact of polluting the earth.

Architects, designers, and creatives can discover a large array of products and services displayed pertaining to sustainability and a better life. The more than 500 collaborators for this year’s creative festival have gone all out to show the world how we can reuse and recycle many of the articles that are readily discarded.

At the TCDC, students show in the ‘Ploy Saeng’ showcase unusual uses for paper – to use as sculpting material -, old clothes – repurposed for jewelry making, or acrylic scraps that served as the basis for colorful sculptures. In basic workshops interested people can even learn the techniques to work with these materials.

At the same time, the latest technologies and digitalization is not missing. The display of Super Sensing near the CAT Tower and riverside, is an example of the latest advanced sensor technologies that are applied to products. In his keynote, Satoshi Nakagawa, founder of Sensingnet, Inc., shared insights about wearable blood pressure monitoring, sustainable biomaterials for fashion tech, smart architecture and interior design tools, advanced smart agriculture using bacteria to power sensors and much more.

The later is showcased with a patch of grass and plants. Together with Asahi Kasei Microdevices the team at Sensignet developed a small battery using microorganism like bacteria in the soil and its ultra-low energy-consumption for sustainable electricity. This powers sensors and wireless systems.

The Bangkok Design Week 2019 incorporates urban design and immersion into the local community, too. During the nine days of the festival, street signage and signs should help improve foot traffic and guide visitors effortlessly through the neighborhood where most of the venues of the design week are set up.

Venture beyond the modern TCDC, Warehouse 30, and River City complex, the community of Talad Noi is seeing an influx of curious, creative visitors. In an old, renovation-screaming Chinese house, an exhibition of chairs built by factory workers who don’t consider themselves as designers demonstrates clearly that everyday life is constant creation.

Deeper into the neighborhood is Baan Rim Nam, an old wooden house with two floors, turned into a furniture showroom during the Bangkok Design Week 2019. The creaky old floors of the upper level contrast beautifully with leather couches, contemporary wooden furniture, and rattan chairs. On the ground floor, the tiny houses by Atelier 2+ the two Swedish-educated Thai designers who were judges at the KOHLER Bathroom Hackathon are ‘living’ in a history-laden environment.

A rather curious installation graces the entrance of the house. A sort of a tent built out of human hair illuminated with neon lights invites visitors to pull out some of their own hair and place it in a plastic bag for analysis and collecting data on the collective health of Bangkok city dwellers.

The contrasts in Bangkok alone are worth a visit. The modern and old, the rich and the poor, the sophisticated and the basic aspects of the city have been greatly captures in the Bangkok Design Week 2019. The creative show leaves attendees – or should we say participants – with lots of food for thought and a bag full of inspiration for future designs.

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