Isaan Object 2017
Isaan: Barren, but rich with inspiration
The culture of Isaan people, a group of people living in the northeast of Thailand for thousands of years, has always been dismissed as marginal, despite its creative vivacity and unique qualities. The Isaan life boasts clear characteristics, be it way of life, handicrafts, architecture, ceremonies, down to the clothes they wear, which are designed to endure difficult weather they must go through.
This overlooked cultural heritage became the origin for the T-Style: Isaan Objects project by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), which sees channels in which Isaan culture, a cultural asset as it is, can be developed into products with originality.
Thanks to DITP, Isaan villagers and contemporary designers have come together under the Isaan Objects project to combine their skills, local materials and spirit of Isaan to create modern products such as furniture, home decoration and accessories among others. Besides fantastic products that answer the needs of the market, the livelihood of the villagers has also been improved.
The project is a collaboration between the government, skilled villagers and professional designers whom have experience with exporting into international markets. Such figures include M. L. Pawinee Santisiri, a veteran designer of Ayodhya who pushed water hyacinth design products to global renown; Trimode designer Pirada Seniwong na Ayudhya or Pichitra Boonyataraphan, fashion designer and owner of Thai fashion’s legendary house, Atelier Pichita.
The process starts with designers traveling to Isaan to seek inspiration for their designs, as well as local materials and handicraft techniques to be transformed into lifestyle and fashion products such as clothes, accessories and home decoration.
The end products have been displayed at Maison Objet 2017 in Paris last September, much to rave reviews from visitors and foreign buyers. All in all, this goes back to Isaan communities who have produced these products, linking a small person faraway in countryside to have their part in the international retail scene.