Jutamas Buranajade and Piti Amraranga are designer laureates and founders of the studio “o-d-a”, which is short for “Object Design Alliance”. They’re widely regarded for their original and unique creativeness.
Jutamas, who specializes in product design, is a graduate of Silpakorn University, while Piti did his graphic design degree at the Faculty of Decorative Arts, the same alma mater.
For the design duo, their career is a continuous journey to experience every aspect of art and design. Piti started out as a complete novice in the field of woodworking. But it’s the power of interest that’s led to more effective learning and eventually culminated in in-depth knowledge in the technique, design and function.
Over the years they’ve learned the trade from various master craftsmen including Phisanu Numsiriyothin, who clearly had a good influence on them, Their chief asset lies in the use of the imagination and original ideas that keep everything simple yet attractive.
It’s a subtle approach to keeping a balance between the processing of raw materials and industrial manufacture without sacrificing quality and uniqueness. Along this line of thinking, Jutamas and Piti proudly present the Rush Chair, a collection of woven rush chairs and stools made from green wood.
It’s a design that speaks for the trees, thereby saving them from harm and destruction. Precisely, if a seat can be made out of wooden sticks, then there’s no need to cut down any tree, a win-win situation for both humans and forests.
As Piti put it, “For the most part, designers have a good knowledge of lumber yard timber that’s been sawn into planks or partially prepared for construction. But we think it’s time to change the way we do things. The making of furniture from wooden sticks presents several challenges that must be overcome, ranging from debarking to reducing moisture content in wood.”
The stick chair with woven seat made of hyacinth fiber from Ayutthaya comes in handy as the prototype of the Rush Chair series. It’s become the inspiration for anyone wanting to try their hand at simple furniture making. Plus, it requires only a few hand tools, while the wooden sticks and rush used in seat weaving vary widely from one area to another. Together, they bring the power of storytelling that adds value to local products.
He said, “We view easy yet stylish furniture making with optimism. Anyone can do his or her own DYI furniture project. It’s a way to self-reliance and taking care of the surroundings. It’s different from commercial furniture, which requires a lot of energy and resources to manufacture. As for Rush Chair, if you make it, you can fix it. One day when it’s not repairable, you can discard it without harming the environment because everything about it is biodegradable.”
Jutamas Buranajade and Piti Amraranga of the o-d-a studio are among subject matter experts being featured in an online course of study titled “A Passion for Woodworking.” It’s part of BaanLaeSuan Classroom, a collaboration with CEA, or the Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization). The program is designed for people interested in woodworking and those looking to acquire basic carpentry skills through furniture making using basic tools and community resources, plus plenty of tips for developing a career in creative business. The show is hosted by Jeremiah Pitakwong, Editor of BaanLaeSuan Magazine. Start learning today at LivingASEAN.com.
Some ten years ago, Suppapong Sonsang rose to fame as a laureate of the Designer of the Year award. Apparently content with living a green lifestyle, he kind of vanished from the limelight and got into a different field, something more upstream.
He brought 70 rai of destroyed forest land back to life in a bid to generate enough timber supplies for Jird Design Gallery, his very own furniture brand. Committed to sustainable growth, he viewed the mammoth undertakings as crucial for the future of his career as designer.
Lesson 2 Understanding Wood / Learn from Suppapong Sonsang, a furniture designer of Jird Design Gallery.
In a recent meet-up with room Magazine, he said: “The design profession is dependent upon purchase orders and customer hiring contracts. To do a good job or run a business well, skill alone isn’t enough. You also need a readiness to accomplish the task, reliable resources, even luck, et cetera. So I set out to find a green route for business to continue to perform for a long time; meanwhile, relying less on hiring contracts and more on selling direct to end-users. I viewed the practice of growing and caring for timber forests as a basic occupation with some hope for the future.”
Suppapong started his first new growth forest at Kamphaeng Phet Province in lower northern Thailand and gradually expanded to Nong Pho, Ratchaburi. The latter has since served as his headquarters with storage facilities for partly prepared timber and logs. There’s a sawmill with 4-5 types of machinery, where logs are cut, sawn into lumber and packaged ready for delivery. As business grew, he converted his humble abode in the forest into a showroom.
As he put it, “Timber is a valuable resource. So I focus on planting only trees that have economic importance. Little by little, I searched for knowledge and experimented with various methods in a bid to achieve the desirable outcome. Eventually, I obtained not only the resources needed for furniture making, but also a workplace with the atmosphere of a nature reserve. Before anything else, it’s about the better quality of life.”
Suppapong’s forests are home to valuable ecosystems. Apart from hardwood trees that are grown for timber, he also set aside some areas for planting crops. His work on the farm encompasses three aspects of product manufacturing, including design, human resources, and forest resources management.
Sharing his work experience, Suppapong said: “I’m responsible for design while others are busy taking care of things, ranging from caring for the forest floor and planting new trees, to grafting branches and growing plants from seeds in nurseries. Everyone deserves a good quality of life. For people in the community who’re working with us, it’s an opportunity to learn new skills in carpentry and agriculture. The knowledge that they gain as apprentices will be an asset beneficial to their future career.
“Meantime, the forests that we grow ensure that our furniture business will be adequately resourced for a long time to come, in other words until death do us part. It will be another 20 to 30 years down the road before some of the trees become fully grown and ready for harvesting. That said, it’s a guarantee that our community will still have timber supply lasting us a hundred years, or after old growth forests have been depleted.”
“While others invest in big manufacturing facilities and expensive machines, we put our money in land that we need to grow forests for timber. Oftentimes, people asked why we chose land covered with trees and undergrowth instead of beautiful pieces of property elsewhere. Well, it may be of little value to them. But it’s a great asset both for us and for the community 20 years down the road. We will have access to timber that our business needs. To begin with, it’s about growing healthy forest ecosystems. That means you need the initial capital, and patience. You have to give it all your energy to succeed. Been there, survived that. And now the rest is easy,” said Suppapong laughing.
“From then until now, little went as planned. Success came from resilience and the ability to adapt to new challenges. The workers that we hired from the community had no carpentry skill. So we started training them while the trees still had a long way to grow and mature. We believe that by the time our forests are ready for harvesting, our helping hands will have become well versed in woodworking. In the meantime, we just have to keep up with design trends. Together, they constitute parallel paths to future growth.”
Above, a bench seat from the KOOPREE collection by Suppapong Sonsang is made of timber from KrathinThepa (scientific name: Acacia mangium) a species of fast growing tree in the pea family Fabaceae. Harvested at 7 years of age, the tree provides an alternative to hardwood commonly used in furniture making.
Suppapong Sonsang of Jird Design Gallery is one of subject matter experts being featured in an online curriculum titled, “A Passion for Woodworking”. It’s part of Baan Lae Suan Classroom, a collaboration with the Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization), or CEA. The program is designed for people interested in woodworking and those looking to acquire basic carpentry skills through furniture making using basic tools and community resources. Plus, it provides tips for developing a career in creative business. The program is hosted by Jeremiah Pitakwong, Editor of Baan Lae Suan Magazine.
In the previous video, we presented a lesson on the Milking Stool by distinguished designer/carpenter Phisanu Numsiriyothin. In this episode, Suppapong Sonsang shows the steps in transforming homegrown timber into a beautiful bench seat.
A designer who’s passionate about all things made of wood, Phisanu Numsiriyothin has grown familiar with using woodworking tools at home since a very young age.
Let’s begin with building a cow milking stool. Learn from Phisanu Numsiriyothin, master woodworker and professional carpenter. / Lesson 1 Getting Started in Woodworking
Upon graduation with a degree in Visual Arts, he led a self-indulgent life for a time pushing himself beyond the limits only to find it had taken a toll on his body and mind. He soon learned that life didn’t get much better than spending the day in a woodworking studio. Life took a turn for the better after his exposure to works of outstanding artistry by big names such as George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, James Krenov, and master craftsman Saiyart Sema-ngern. Only then did his career in woodworking begin in earnest.
In a recent interview with roommagazine, Phisanu said his belief in the value of woodworking came from experience that spanned more than a decade.“A designer may have considerable knowledge of chair making. But if he’s unfamiliar with splintering or tear-out, has never done wood planing or used joinery tools, then he’s only thinking of two parts of the entire process — design proportions, and graphic visuals or style. In the end, beautiful design is achieved, but it may not be the best choice for wood. Plus, ill-conceived design could result in a lot of waste that compounds the world’s garbage problem.”
The world that he alludes briefly to is one in which a woodworker exists in harmony with natural woodlands. It’s a world where people harvest trees for timber responsibly and at the same time allow time for forests to thrive. Such an ideology can translate into a physically concrete form as is the case with “Rush Chair” by Phisanu in collaboration with the design duo, Jutamas Buranajade and Piti Amraranga, of o-d-a. They use small pieces trimmed off large trees to build the chair frame using traditional methods of wood joinery, while the seat is made of woven natural fibers dyed different shades of indigo.
If sustainable design refers to a piece of furniture that’s comfortable to sit on, easy to fix using parts sourced directly from nature, and capable of reducing negative impacts on the environment, then Rush Chair would fit that definition, a chair that’s eco-friendly in every sense of the word.
As Phisanu puts it, “If we design without focusing on just our needs and start paying attention to the environment, the result will be very different. As for me, I focus not only on the production technique, but also on the wood being used, the tools needed to perform the task, and everything that combines to add value to woodwork.”
For the time being, Phisanu has relocated his fully equipped studio from Bangkok’s Buddha Puja area to Kuchinarai District in Kalasin. Here, he established a field workshop to make furniture from locally sourced materials. The villagers were available to work after the annual rice growing season had passed. So he persuaded them to join in making the Rush Chair based on design improved in conjunction with o-d-a. By making seat furniture from tree branches found in the area, Phisana subtly communicated the need to protect and preserve the environment among participating villagers. He has discovered the astounding connection between people and trees, and used it wisely promote nature conservation in the long term.
“I believe that between the chair and the trees, our home planet prefers more trees. They are crucial to the physical surroundings, far more important than my designing achievements. By realizing the importance of each and every tree, we are motivated to come up with good design and elaborate manufacturing process, and the resulting effect is worth a try.”
Phisanu Numsiriyothin is one of subject matter experts being featured in an online curriculum titled, “A Passion for Woodworking”. It’s part of BaanLaeSuan Classroom, a collaboration with the Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization), or CEA. The program is designed for people interested in woodworking and those wanting to acquire basic carpentry skills through furniture making, plus ideas about using local materials and tips for developing a career in creative business. It’s hosted by Jeremiah Pitakwong, Editor of BaanLaeSuan Magazine.
Phisanu said: “A stool for milking dairy cows. It’s a basic stool, very basic and easy to build. It’s lightweight and portable. A first for anyone wanting to try his hand at woodworking. Plus it’s come a long way in terms of design history. It depends on the material we can find, or the purpose of use. This one isn’t made of wood sticks. I made it instead from a solid tree trunk. And this one from wood slabs. The method differs occasionally. Sometimes we use leftovers or cut wide planks to make legs. We’re talking about using one type of material.”
Let’s begin with building a cow milking stool. Learn from Phisanu Numsiriyothin, master woodworker and professional carpenter. Click this link to get started https://dai.ly/x7zc9y1
When the subject of art comes up, people tend to think of canvas paintings or sculptures, but there is a group of artists in this world who love working with more unusual materials. In the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, which runs from October 19, 2018 to February 3, 2019 at 20 major locations all over Bangkok, you’ll see how sticky tape, cheap plastic baskets, propellers, or even fish can be used to create art. Now, before the festival starts, we’re going to give you some highlights: works made of unconventional materials and with non-traditional artistic methods.
Material: Plastic baskets Work: Happy Happy Project: Basket Chandelier Artist: Choi Jeong Hwa Venue: Bangkok Art and Culture Center
Choi Jeong Hwa is a South Korean artist and designer who favors the use of simple materials procuced by industrial systems for his richly colorful installation art creations such as the piece “Happy Together,” which put household items such as plastic baskets, trays, and colorful water glasses under elaborate lighting in a showing at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland. Or his use of over 2 million plastic containers to cover the Seoul Olympic Stadium in 2008. For the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, Choi walked around markets in Thailand himself, buying up plastic baskets to create a huge colorfully sculptured chandelier. Bring your camera, you can snap a photo of it the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre! Anyone interested in enjoying more of Choi’s delightful works can see them at the Nai Lert Park Heritage Home, as well as in various merchandise outlets in the Siam Square/Chit Lom/Rajaprasong area. For today, we have some pictorial examples of Choi’s work that you’ll all be able to enjoy in person in just a few days.
Material: Silver reflective plastic sheet Art work: Diluvium Artist: Lee Bul Venue: East Asiatic Building
Diluvium is an installation art piece by Lee Bul. It’s a temporary structure built up from steel boxes welded together and surfaced with an adhesive material and light-reflective plastic sheet. Lee is a South Korean female artist associated with many branches of art: painting, live shows, sculpture, installation art, and video. For more than 20 years she has held showings in museums and participated in many important art festivals all over the world. One aspect of her work that brought her to worldwide renown involved sculptures that imagine future eras by showing worlds of the future. Clearly the piece Diluvium is one of these. At Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 you’ll find Diluvium in the East Asiatic Building. The way its futuristic concept is set in an environmental context is especially interesting, full of historical references, and the end product has a rare beauty.
Material: Clear plastic tape Art work: Tape Bangkok 2018 (Tape Tunnel) Artist: Numen/For Use Collective Design Venue: Bangkok Art and Culture Center
Numen/For Use Collective Design (Numen) is a group of three collaborating artists and designers from Berlin, Germany: Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler, and Nikola Radeljković. The remarkable works that made this group famous are abstract, involve unique, new environmental dimensions, incorporate industrial design, and play around with open space. Many of this group’s creations on direct relationships between materials and people. For instance their piece Net Hasselt, shown in 2011 at Belgium’s Z33 House for Contemporary Art, strung hammocks together which people could climb around in as they floated like dark clouds inside the building. Then there was String Vienna, a sculpture of ropes in horizontal and vertical lines inside a giant balloon. The ropes were strong enough to support the weight of people clambering inside without risking a fall.
At Bangkok Art Bienniale 2018 you’ll be able to see Tape (a tunnel of sticky tape and clear plastic). This work, which lifted the reputation of this group to a whole new level, involves the use of clear tape stuck together to form a tunnel large enough for people to get inside and comfortably move around in. Numen has shown this type of work in locations such as Frankfurt, Paris, and the U.S. state of Ohio. As Bangkok entered this queue, our Living ASEAN work team went to meet and greet the Numen tunnel tape installation team just as they arrived to start work on the tunnel which will welcome Thai and foreign visitors to the 7th floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. The picture you see here is an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” shot taken on the first day of installation. The Numen team assured us that the finished work will look quite different: the tape will be wrapped, wrapped, and wrapped, little by little, until the day the exposition begins or the tape runs out.
Material: Fiberglass, wood, electronic apparatus, and propellers. Art work: Rekayasa Genetika (REGEN) Artist: Heri Dono Location:Bangkok Art and Culture Center
60-year-old Indonesian contemporary artist Heri Dono believes that “Art is the primary component of happiness.” His art not only delivers aesthetic pleasure, but has hidden meanings that point to distortions and call for social justice – possibly influenced by his coming of age around 1965, when Indonesian politics involved a lot of violence. One of his works is Rekayasa Genetika (REGEN), puppet-like dolls in the form of genetically modified humans covered in machinery. This was inspired by wayang, the Indonesian shadow play, a folk tradition very similar to Thailand’s own nang talung. These miniature sculptures are made up of a variety of materials, including fiberglass, wood, electronics, and propellers. We were quietly informed that all the Rekayasa Genetika puppet dolls had traveled to the 7th floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center and were awaiting installation. After seeing them we can say in just a single phrase: absolutely not to be missed! Watch all the announcements.
Materials: Stuffed animals and mixed media Art Work: Chao Phraya 2018 Artist: Patiphat Chaiyawithate
Location: East Asiatic Building
Patipat Chaiwitesh, artist and designer with a penchant for art made from everyday objects such as chopsticks, combs, and textiles, or even bananas, is someone who pays close and constant attention to changes in culture, society, and the environment. After graduating in Visual Arts from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Fine Arts he received awards and participated in shows at various venues in Japan, France, and Germany. For Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, Patipat is the only artist using taxidermy-stuffed animals to create art. His works in the East Asiatic Building will take you into a “lab room of the future,” with sculptures of animals – including fish, birds, and shrimp – foraging along a river bank: each species displays a physical condition and behavior changed by an environment affected by human activity. Patipat explained the process behind the use of these preserved animals as artist’s material. He begins by searching the markets to find and purchasing suitable animals that have died. These he takes to the lab room of the Chiang Mai University Veterinary Department, enlisting experts there to preserve the animal’s shape so it will not decay or deteriorate. Patipht’s own work begins at that point. When the Living ASEAN and Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 work teams came to visit Patipat Chaiwitesh’s work studio we made a video clip here for us all to keep.
All these exciting exhibits make up only a fraction of the more than 200 artistic works that you’ll be able to get up close and personal and feast your eyes on. View to your heart’s content, and come back again, as the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 festival of contemporary art will be here for more than three months, October 19, 2018 to February 3, 2019. Follow developments at Living ASEAN and baanlaesuan.com.
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