Designers weave sustainability into latest Slow Hand Design exhibition at MDW 2023
Now in its 10th year, the Slow Hand Design Exhibition organized by DITP brings contemporary Thai design to the Salone del Mobile. Here, your latest sneak preview of the show’s exhibitors and their sustainable innovations
As always, this year’s Slow Hand Design Exhibition showcases the unique ability of Thai designers to combine age-old tradition and modern technology while also holding on to Thailand’s wonderful long-treasured handicrafts. With a focus on renewable and recyclable materials, the iconic platform returns next month to showcase the future Thai design promoting the country’s creative industries with a diverse selection of projects that feature sustainable design practices.
The exhibition, which is exhibited as part of the prestigious Superstudio showcase, will feature a total of 33 designers and design studios whose innovative ideas make use of recycled and/or upcycled resources. Here, in the second of three round-ups, we offer an exclusive preview of what to expect…
Led by award-winning designer Anuphon Yooyuen, Mobella is well-known for mixing modern Thai elements with international design standards, including the Takraw Stool, which portrays the charm of Thai handicrafts, and the Kowma Collection, which uses a signature textile with multiple purposes used by local people in rural areas across the country.
Founded in 1992, Mobella upholsters modern furniture with the best of Thai craftsmanship and materials, transforming groundbreaking design into functional collections of sofas, armchairs, beds and home accessories.
The brand is a proud member of Thailand’s Furniture Industry Association, earning recognition for its unique designs and is one of the very few upholsterers to own its own factory, offering an exclusive made-to-order service using a range of premium grade fabrics and leathers.
Moonler is a renowned Thai furniture brand, manufacturer, and exporter of premium quality Chamchuri wood furniture. The company bases its concept on “timeless wisdom to uplift life and spirit”, crafting its collections from a modest factory located in the mountainous area of Chiang Mai.
Stools, tables and shelving units are all characterised by their beautiful grain, which celebrates their material origins whilst highlighting the expert handicraft that goes into each piece.
“We commit to promoting the local community’s occupations, wood crafting culture, and income,” says founder Phuwanat Damrongporn. “Through our work, the disappearing traditional crafts are restored and brought back to be a meaningful part of our daily life.”
All wood is air dried for up to a month and oven-dried for another to bring the wood to a suitable humidity before it is sent to the production line. Most work processes use ‘sala’ (a northern Thai word meaning “highly skilled craftsman”), but some of them use machines for faster, more accurate work.
Creating sustainable materials to produce stylishly minimalist collections, MORE maximises the benefits of waste materials for consumers and the environment. It seeks to transform waste into new and upcycled materials with the potential to be designed, challenging our perception of waste as worthless.
Thai brand MORE seeks to challenge our perception of waste by transforming it into sustainable materials. They include such as bottle caps, household UHT boxes, sugarcane from agriculture, coffee grounds, eggshells, wood dust and PVC edge banding from industrial waste, which the brand upcycles to create stylishly minimalist collections.
“At MORE, we develop our products from a wide range of wastes from municipal solid waste, such as bottle caps and UHT aluminium foil, to industrial waste like coffee chaff,” says the brand. “Through indepth research, development and design processes, waste is transformed into lifestyle products that everyone can use.”
“We believe that waste is a valuable resource and by developing it and maximising the benefits of waste materials for consumers and the environment, we can transform it into new upcycled materials with the potential to be designed into people’s daily lives.”
A passion for calligraphy and a love of all things vintage defines PICA, the stationary brand on a mission to revive design values of the past. Saying that, its collections boast an ultra-modern, minimalist feel—that’s because PICA believes in the simplicity of classic design that does the job it’s designed to do.
Each piece is handcrafted from high-quality materials with a playful twist. Take the PICA pencil bar for example, which sandwiches pencil led between two wooden planks to create a rectangular design that takes its design cues from chocolate candy.
The entire process has been optimised to cut down the waste often associated with the production of pencils. The result? A grooved bar of pencils that can be snapped off one-by-one.
A truly diverse brand whose product collections are as innovative as they are unlimited. QUALY DESIGN believes in the power of a better life and a better world, which is why it focuses on the design of everyday products that truly have the power to make an impact.
Its main driver is sustainability which comes under the umbrella of circular design and eco-friendly production processes.
The award-winning brand creates home accessories, kitchenware and stationery that accents the interior with playful notions of sustainability whilst subtly delivering a message of environmental awareness. All products as well as the packaging are 100% recyclable and designed in a way that facilitates easy recycling.
In fact, the WPO (World Packaging Organization) has awarded Qualy with the prestigious WorldStar for being one of the best companies in the world in the implementation of eco-sustainable packaging.
[ Read also This year’s Slow Hand Design exhibition proves why raw materials are so last century! ]
Even the slightest gadgets can be transformed with a more eco-friendly sensibility, which is exactly the case when it comes to SANDT. The refillable pocket-sized room diffuser is crafted from a bio-plastic, which can be recycled again and again.
It features a snap-to-use function, which enables users to press down the diffuser to release an aroma of their choosing. The simple gesture goes hand-in-hand with its sleek and simple design, which reduces the negative impacts of plastic on the planet whilst looking to employ local production facilities to help create a sustainable economy.
Sarnsard is a multidisciplinary design studio which is all about giving modern twists to traditional Thai handicrafts. Founded by Visrut “Ped” Taweevorasuwan and Manatsanun “Kookai” Taweevorasuwan, the two designers work together to give a contemporary touch to local wickerwork, closely collaborating with Pa-Nan Pandanus women artisans in a small Muslim village of Southern Thailand called Trang to create beautiful baskets, seats and other home accessories.
Ped and Kookai share a love for ‘Lai Tin Chang’ or ‘Lai Baa’ (asterisk), a traditional pattern and signature of Sarnsard’s collections and a long-standing pattern, which is less popular nowadays due to its intricacy and the time it takes to complete—this is why they have chosen to preserve it.
“Sarnsard is not only a designer, but a local developer,” the designers explain. “The design concept is Future Crafts, which means ‘breathing new life into age old skill’ that combines sophistication and simplicity by blending local craft with design innovation.”
Sustainable textile specialists and furniture brand Yothaka have collaborated to develop an exclusive range of recycled textiles crafted by local artisans in different regions of Thailand.
Designed specifically for home furnishing, the available collection of colours has been delicately designed Suwan Kongkhunthien (Yothaka International), and competently manufactured by SC Grand with more than 60 years of expertise in spinning and textile recycling.
“Our 100% recycled textiles at SC Grand do not involve any bleaching, dyeing, or harmful chemicals in the process of recycling, as well as being certified by GRS (Global Recycled Standard) to ensure the legitimacy of the materials,” they say.
The texture of each fabric has its origins from various types of textile wastes in the fashion and textile industry including manufacturing waste, cutting waste, and post consumption discarded garments. This waste is collected and transformed into raw yarns, which are then woven and knitted into fabrics with unique irregular shades and tones.
Sonite’s surface collections are made of upcycled materials that allow the company to create beautiful objects whilst reducing waste in the process. These include Sonite’s Husk range, which uses discarded rice husks from the agricultural mulling process to create a biocomposite that supports the local farming industry.
This biocomposite has been used to create tiled surfaces as well as offer the material for smaller design objects like cups and trinket boxes.
This forms the base of Sonite’s design-thinking—transforming otherwise useless waste materials into desirable design. It’s created similar processes with coconut fibres, coffee chaff and hyacinth. The company has also made its own materials from ocean plastic and reconstituted stone to demonstrate the value of discarded components.
“The determination to get closer to nature,” says Sonite. “We want to leave a good mark in the society we live in by turning waste challenges into high-value upcycled accessories. As industrialists, we provide quality, efficiency and solidity but are mindful of a contract with nature.”
The Yarn Story
The Yarn Story is a Bangkok-based studio whose main purpose is to support local weavers and their use of locally-sourced materials. Together, they have produced 3D textile collections formed of billowing fabrics of various shades encased in frames to be hung on the wall.
Each piece showcases the intricate weaving that goes into the fabric whilst other design objects showcase the looms other applications such as mats, carpets and wall-hangings.
The studio’s main product, however, is its expertise which it shares with the local communities through workshops and other project-based events that share knowledge when it comes to looms and yarns.
“We can create fabric samples, consult on weaving, and any kind of hand weaving project,” the studio explains. “We can also host private workshops and create fabric samples for educational and commercial purposes.”
THINGG by THINKK Studio
THINGG is a Bangkok-based furniture and accessories brand dedicated to improving the quality of interior spaces through creative industrial works and local craftsmanship.
The brand was founded by THINKK Studio in 2016 to liven up Thai manufacturing and craftsmanship which it felt had become stagnant for too long. In a bid to revive them, THINGG combines traditional Thai handicrafts with the cosmopolitan flair of local materials. Continuing the theme of weaving, THINGG has created a collection of pendant lamp shades that took inspiration from lantern shapes found across various Asian cultures.
The architectural ornamentation features Corypha lecomtei palm leaves that have been meticulously woven by artisans from the Palm Leaf Weaving Community in Baan Tublan, Prachin Buri where the Lecomte palm trees–a species endemic to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam–are protected.
The pattern comprises small interconnected floral shapes or ‘Phikun’, which creates a play of light that brings out intricate details of the craftsmanship.
A special collaboration project between THINKK Studio and Doi Tung, to pursue the quest of Princess Srinagarindra Boromarajonani in uplifting the well-being of tribal villagers in northern Chiang Rai, Doi Tung royal project aims to sustain the surroundings of nature and the well being of the artisan employees who work for the projects’ production.
The Drip Kit, the coffee ceramic dripping pot is one of Doi Tung’s products that concern, not just the practical functions but care for every detail of the makings and the design aspiration. The coatings and chemicals are required to be free of toxic substances, ensuring there are no residual hazardous chemicals to our workers, users, and environment. A meaningful project of sustainable development.
VISIT THE SLOW HAND DESIGN EXHIBITION FROM 18-23 APRIL 2023 AT SUPERSTUDIO PIÙ (VIA TORTONA 27, 20144, MILAN / ITALY)