Just to make my New Year wishes complete, another Happy New Year to everyone – this time it’s the Thai one! The Songkran Festival is celebrated in Thailand traditionally from 13th to 15th April and coincides with the New Year of many calendars in Southeast Asia. It’s actually great fun, as it’s basically one huge water battle along the streets.

Everybody is armed with super soakers and (as shown above) bowls full of white powder that gets turned into a nice sticky paste by adding water – which then gets smeared on everybody’s faces, clothes, etc. So eventually the streets of Bangkok look like one huge army of smiling “guerilla fighters”. I’m making water paddles on the floor as I write this (Thais find it particularly funny to cover »Pharangs« in buckets of ice water), but it’s no point trying to dry, as it will not last for longer than a few minutes… and apparently the wetter you get, the happier will be your year (2555).

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If you go traveling to Myanmar, better bring an iron – you might need it to straighten your dollar bills! As you can see in the pictures, there is quite a difference in the visual appearance of the bills of the local currency (Kyat) and the US dollars that the foreigners bring in. And now guess which note got turned down, when I wanted to make a payment? Nope – you mean you can’t you see the 1mm tear in the dollar note? I couldn’t either. But nevertheless it was already reason enough for people not to accept this bill – whereas the Kyats are ok to be completely dissolved, only held together by sellotape.

As there are no ways to get cash in Myanmar, peoples’ sensitivity towards the physical state of dollar notes can turn into a big problem – and you might have to end your trip sooner than planned… only because there’s a tiny tear in you bill, or because you folded it slightly in your wallet. Fortunately I eventually found someone who accepted the note, so I could stay as long as I intended…


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the courses that I was teaching in the past six months at Raffles International College in Bangkok has designed the Local Essence exhibition. It will be launched at TCDC design institute in Bangkok later this week and actually mark the end of my guest lecturing, before heading back to European soil in April.

This exhibition is a collaboration between Raffles Design College, the Material Connexion Bangkok (MC) and Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC) to enhance the potentials of locally produced materials by investigating and discovering their qualities. The aim is to communicate these materials as an exhibition to the public, through design projects based on research and materials chosen by the students. Fashion Design, Product Design and Interior Design students together with Brit Leissler (Lecturer), Guiseppe Guerriero (Lecturer) and Jett Pisate Virangkabutra (Product Design’s Program Director) investigated innovative applications of Thai materials within the Material Connexion library.

The opening is on Thursday, 31. March 2011 from 18:00 to 21:00 at Material Connexion | TCDC (6th Floor of the Emporium Shopping Complex, 622 Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok).

So, if you are in Bangkok, drop by to enjoy some free drinks and canapes while observing interesting design investigations on Thai local materials.


We just sent off the first Punch’n’Cuddle newsletter – which means that we have now officially launched our company! Just in time for Valentine’s, we were able to express Punch’n’Cuddle’s love to all its fans (so maybe it was more a loveletter than a newsletter), by finally being able to give a date for our online shop opening: May 2011. If you would like to stay in the loop about Punch’n’Cuddle, please join our mailing list. A love-filled day to all of you!


One of the many good things about living in Thailand is that you can celebrate at least three new years – every year! Having done the 1st January celebrations just about a month ago, last night followed the next new years eve party – this time welcoming the new Chinese year of the rabbit! And in case all those well wishes and new year resolutions will still not work out this second time, there will be a third chance in april, when the Thai new year will be celebrated. Pheeeeeew!

Just as the of-going fire works and paper lanterns around me announced the beginning of the “bunny mode”, while standing on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, I received a phone call from London, that the delivery with the very final samples from Vietnam of Punch’n’Cuddle bases had just been unloaded. For me that was the best way to start this new year (2555 btw), as this basically gave the starting signal for our production – a moment that I had desperately anticipated in the past year!

So, apart from wishing everyone a happy new year again, I am very delighted to announce that we have finally left the sampling stage and now officially started the Punch’n’Cuddle production – and will therefore launch our online shop in Summer 2011 (because producing will also take some time, but not nearly as long as getting there)!


Khmer Design

26Jan11

Having just returned yesterday from a trip to Cambodia, I would like to quickly share these two wonderful simple designs that I came across over there: sandals made from old tires and a bamboo jaw’s harp.

Even though an artifact of the Khmer Rouge killing regime, that has devastated Cambodia in the 70’s with an aftermath present til today, those sandals are a very inventive and functional design – true to the maxim that necessity is the mother of invention: No additional materials other than old tires are used, not even an additional fixing – the rubber straps are just put through slots on the sole. Apparently these sandals were part of the Khmer Rouge uniform – even Pol Pot was wearing them.

The bamboo jaw’s harp is carved from one single strip of bamboo and has a beautiful warm sound – which I prefer to the one of its »metal brothers«. Plus it works perfectly! Yet another example of how reduction & simplicity in most cases automatically generates good design.


A very happy new year to everyone – with this picture of a screen printed piece of fabric, that I had just bought in a temple in beautiful Luang Prabang in Laos. To European eyes it might look rather occult, however, I was assured by the temple worker that I bought it from, that it means nothing but good luck for the person who carries it.

I was very intrigued by the graphics and could not resist purchasing it. The temple worker seemed actually very delighted that I was so interested in all those pieces of fabric that he was selling (it is an open question whether this was because I spent some dollars or because I showed cultural interest). And who knows – maybe by looking at the picture it will rub off some of the good luck to the reader of this post.

In this spirit all the best for 2011! By the way, I have extended my contract teaching at Raffles International College in Bangkok, so will manage to completely escape the European winter by staying here til middle of April. Bliss.