Bangkok designer Jitrin Jintaprecha‘s striking furniture and light fittings featured in an exhibition of Thai contemporary design that caught the international design world’s attention when it showcased at the 2011 Salone del Mobile in Milan, the most prestigious furniture fair on the planet.
We talked to Jitrin and his wife and marketing manager Kay at the STONE&STEEL showroom in Bangkok, where Terence shot the striking portrait above.
While we chatted, Jitrin showed us a staggering number of designs on his laptop and we flicked through an impressive pile of catalogues that document his collections. This is a man who creates an average of 100 designs a year, for his company Banyakarts, as well as three other design companies, STONE&STEEL, HYGGE and Corner43 Décor. Jitrin has won hundreds of awards.
Jitrin’s work is distinguished by streamlined forms (Terence calls him the Thai Marc Newson) and a sense of balance and harmony between the structure, shape and material. Jitrin loves to work with a wide range of materials, and over the years has used everything, from bamboo, rattan and wood to leather, steel, plastic, and fibreglass, his favourite material. We love this guy’s stuff.
Q. Describe a typical day in the life of a designer for us?
A. Let’s see… my day-to-day work is quite varied. There might be a sales and marketing meeting in order to brainstorm and exchange ideas about consumer needs, research for information on designs, sketching or creating images in 3D, making models by hand, travelling to factories to inspect the prototype production, surveying the client’s site or an exhibition showroom, decorating interiors with our furniture, for example, hotels, resorts, banks, hospitals, etc. And I travel globally a lot, and I would say travelling each time leads me to different places and new exploration.
Q. When did you become interested in design and why?
A. When I was young, I got the chance to travel to a lot of places and see lots of designs. I was very much impressed in the furniture design products of Mr Prutipong Kijkanjanas, a founder of STONE&STEEL and then began to be interested in studying the field, which I did at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Ladkrabang.
Q. What makes Bangkok special for a designer visiting the city?
A. Bangkok, in my mind, is a sleepless city. There is a huge variety of architecture, design and art, traditional and modern, in the city. You can see everything from historic temples, houses, and towns established since 1782 to new, modern buildings. You can see old and new urban styles alongside each other. For designers interested in traditional Thai crafts and the old original way of life, they should visit the floating markets and old towns that are hundreds of years old, and I highly recommend doing a village home-stay.
Q. What makes Bangkok design special?
A. It has a great mixture of traditional arts and technological innovation.
Q. How do you describe your own design style?
A. A scent of the oriental; simple, but in artistic proportion; realistic, functional, and neutral; and able to be placed anywhere. It’s stylish, modern, and contemporary.
Q. What are the current trends in Thai design?
A. Slow life and simplicity as a philosophy, self-sufficiency, harmonious living, and sustainability in the arts, traditions, technology, and innovation, are all things driving current design.
Q. Where should people interested in design go to shop?
A. You can find Thai design everywhere in Thailand, not only in Bangkok, in a huge number of shops and department stores. Head to the Thai Creative & Design Centre (TCDC) first and do some research.
Q. Who are the quintessential Bangkok designers to buy?
A. Mr Prutipong Kijkanjanas of STONE&STEEL, Mr Suwan Kongkhunthian of YOTHAKA, and the designer Mr Suppong Sornsang.
Q. Your favourite design brands/shops?
A. STONE&STEEL, Corner 43 and HYGGE… I hope it’s not wrong to admire all of my own beloved designs. (Note: these companies also include other Thai designers.)
Q. Best source of information on Bangkok design?
A. The TCDC.
Q. A quintessential Bangkok design souvenir?
A. Any item that is made by hand and technology.
Q. Your favourite design destination and what would you buy there?
A. Bangkok of course. Overseas, it’s Japan. I really love hand-made design so I would buy a piece of handcrafted wood or a sculpture.
Thai Creative & Design Centre
6th Florr, The Emporium Shopping Mall
622 Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok
02 664 8448
56 Sukhumvit 62, Bangkok
02 7416 0346
61/2 Sukhumvit 53, Bangkok
02 2260 1124
If you’re at a Dusit hotel, pick up the latest copy of the hotel’s magazine, EIGHT, to read my feature-length profile of Jitrin Jintaprecha, based on the same interview.