Denmark is helping its Southeast Asian friend to become a leading design nation. Think of Thailand, however, and while the word might conjure up images of golden beaches, lush forests and friendly locals, Thai design is most likely not something that springs to mind straight away.
But if a recently held workshop in Thailand has anything to do with it, that could all be changing.
Initiated by the Thai Embassy and put on by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the workshop, held on May 3, sought to foster an exchange of knowledge between Danish and Thai designers and ultimately promote Thailand as an emerging design economy.
“Danish design is world class and I would like to disseminate it into Thai people’s minds,” explained Thai ambassador Piyawat Niyomrerks to The Copenhagen Post.
Three leading Danish designers visited Thailand to attend the workshop where they each presented special lectures on various topics relating to Danish design. The designers were Charlotte Hoeg Andersen, who was the project manager, Thomas Harrit, an industrial designer, and Tine Mouritsen, a furniture designer.
As well as the lectures, two other guest speakers were also invited to speak and share their experiences and knowledge with the attendees: Tanapong Chirapanidchakul, the CEO of Tanachira Retail Corporation Ltd (the exclusive distributor of the successful Danish global brand Pandora Jewellery); and Jannie Mari Lindermann Christensen, the founder and CEO of Lomme AsP, a Danish bags and accessories design company.
The interactive seminars gave the Thai designers both a macro and microcosmic view of Danish design, exploring such themes as the history of design in Denmark with an emphasis on Danish ‘design DNA’ and the concept of Denmark as a design nation as well as looking at more specific elements of the industry such as product development and topics such as ‘A Danish approach to furniture design’.
As well as the various lectures, the workshop saw the 50 or so attendees divide into groups in which they discussed the influence of culture on design and were introduced to various Danish design processes, methods and tools.
Special emphasis was also placed on Danish products being introduced into the Thai market, and Thai products being introduced to the Danish and European market.
The day following the workshop, on May 4, the visiting Danish designers visited the companies of Thai Taiyo and Index Furniture to see Thai design at work first hand and to gain an insight into the local industry.
In a further effort to promote trade between the two industries, the designers also visited the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP) to discuss potential business opportunities and concrete ways to materialise co-operation between Thailand and Denmark in design opportunities in the near future.
Niyomrerks stressed the workshop was about more than just industrial and economic links between the two countries, but was an important cultural exchange too.
“If Thai people can learn to understand Danish design – which is practical, simple and elegant – then we can learn to understand the Danish people,” he said.