/ Bangkok, Thailand /
/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut, Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /
/ Photographs: Courtesy of Rumbá Bor /
“There is no escape from plastic as long as we can’t decide, once and for all, to stop using it. If a product works great made of plastic, at least we should make it strong and long-lasting. That’s basically where design comes in handy to achieve desired results – good quality products that can be used over and over again.”
So said Rumpa Paweenpongpat, designer and founder of the Rumbá Bor brand. Rumpa likes to be referred to as a curator rather than designer. Only recently she stumbled across an injection mold used to make plastic stools at a factory manufacturing household goods.
The factory owner who originally created the intricate design had since stopped making the product. But for Rumpa, it was a real treasure, a work of tasteful aesthetic design deserving serious attention.
Her success was no fluke. Rumpa soon made a refreshing change from what we’ve seen before. By switching to a new material, repacking and rebranding strategies, she turned an ordinary stool into an exciting new experience, a good quality product under brand name “Choei”.
Now it can be found practically everywhere, albeit different in appearance thanks to the new improved material being used. Plus, there’s an artistic flair in the product that allows it to blend perfectly into the circumstances and ideas at the present time.
The first collection of the Choei brand comes in two different colors depending on the materials used in the making. One model is named “Sakoo” for its off-white color resembling the creamy chewy tapioca balls in Thai-style rice pudding. It’s made of a mix containing 50 percent recycled polyethylene plastic, aka PP for short.
The other model, named “Kathi” for its coconut milk color with a gray tinge, is made of 100 percent recycled polyethylene. It’s the material of choice for obvious reasons. Polyethylene is tough, abrasion-resistant, and capable of withstanding wear and tear over a long period of time.
Sharing her inspiration, Rumpa said: “It makes perfect sense to switch to PP for it’s the most common type of recycled plastic. In comparison with other types of plastic, polyethylene requires less energy to recycle and it gives stronger, better quality products.
“The Choei stool is a piece of decoration you can sit on. It might seem self-contradictory to say that from the start it wasn’t meant to be used for sitting. Rather, it represents a revival, an improvement in the condition and strength, which gives it a value that’s original and unique in its own special way.
“You can test it, or give it a twist. But front and center it’s about aesthetic pleasure. From the design point of view, it’s challenging and rewarding to be able to turn a mass-produced good into a product that has found a niche in the market, a specialized segment of the market, so to speak.”
Choei is the first product line from Rumbá Bor. On one hand, it seems quite a departure from the norm. On the other hand, it’s so ordinary that’s out of the ordinary, a quality that people tend to overlook. It’s exactly the message that the brand is trying to get across, to make people understand.
As Rumpa puts it: “We are interested in ordinary everyday things. Even mundane objects have the power or quality of giving delight. The point is that there is beauty in simplicity and mundaneness, too. There is always kitsch, or sentimentality, about a simple product that most people don’t see.
“It’s run-of-the-mill things we see every day that intrigue us. Examples include breeze blocks, even those balusters on staircase railings in people’s homes, to name but a few. The Choei stool belongs in that same category oftentimes regarded as old-fashioned and out of style.
“But, we can take it out of its humdrum existence simply by applying a new coat of paint and making the intricate design details stand out again. In this way, the improved product will emerge a refreshing change worthy of serious attention.
“Ordinary things can be adapted for a new purpose and made more attractive in ways that people can relate to. The Choei stool has that intricate detail and potential that people seem to have overlooked.”
In essence, the Choei brand is about appreciating of the good qualities and value of the resources that we have and being able to use them wisely. Original design can be adapted to suit new circumstances. A product can be made tough and long-lasting by using a better quality material.
The Choei brand isn’t about trying to change the world overnight. Rather, it’s taking one baby step at a time. Already, this little round-top stool with flowy design legs has sparked up a conversation about it, apparently a step in the right direction going forward.
Hush-hush! There’s a currently circulating story that Choei is coming up with a new set of colors soon. So stay tuned.
Designer: Rumbá Bor (https://linktr.ee/rumbabor)
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