“If only more days were like this! Each evening tired and smiling after a full day, walking back in the cool night breeze with a cold beer in one hand and a box of textiles in the other. Happiness.”
One year has passed since we wrote that after taking part in the 2015 Nimmanhemin Art and Promenade Fair. The last year has been a blur of work filled with overlapping projects that integrated new techniques, experimentations and different ways of working into our designs. We had to say goodbye to a studio facility being rented for our work as it just wasn’t practical for us having to drive there and back every day. The ground floor of our house is now where all the textile magic happens. Space gives room to efficiency – everything is more compact but the luxury and convenience of being able to wake up, grab a coffee and start work immediately is pretty unbeatable. And it shows too – we’ve put out more work this year than ever before. Some of it is the same designs since our earlier days but whether it is the material, depth of colour, pattern clarity, the finishing of the final product or efficiency of the production every aspect of the process has been getting fine-tuned along the way. Having a team helps immensely but presents new challenges for us, ones we had our first hand at this summer when we took on two interns for two months from a local university. It was a learning process for all of us at the end of which we felt it was imperative to immediately transition into hiring more assistants if we wanted to progress beyond being just a couple who spent all their time stitching shibori at home. The decision has completely changed the way we work – we still do a fair bit of stitching ourselves with the satisfaction of being able to work on fun experimental designs while keeping a close eye on the production of our textiles, but the bulk of our activities for now is firmly centered on expanding and establishing our presence as a business.
The recently concluded Chiang Mai Design Week 2016 – which was a city-wide event aimed at showcasing and supporting the work of designers and makers from Chiang Mai and abroad – has helped us immensely in this regard. TCDC (Thailand Creative & Design Center, which is the organizational body responsible for the event) has provided us excellent support from the very beginning of the application process to the last moments of CMDW2016 and beyond. We didn’t quite grasp the extent of the event until we drove through the city and noticed all the various venues and signs pointing to activities, outdoor screening events, lectures and workshops with attendees and presenters coming both from Thailand and abroad to share their knowledge and experience. A definite boost for ourselves and other exhibitors were the meetings which were arranged with interested buyer groups. Alongside the various networking events they have provided us with opportunities to connect with others, promote our work and secure crucial contracts. Our fellow exhibitors have also greatly benefited us with their experience and patience as we tried our best to limit our daily barrage of questions about basic business ethics to a minimum. It all culminated for us with one of our highlights of CMDW 2016 – having the great honor of Chiang Mai Mayor present us with the Chiang Mai Design Award in the category of Craft Innovation and Design.
Our 2016 has been a good year, one filled with progress, challenges and anticipation. There is still a long way to go for us and we are only getting started. It gives us confidence to know that the local government is on our side and has a long-term vision for the creatives and designers of our city, a vision in which we can have a place. Thank you to everyone who has supported us, promoted our work or even just stopped by for a chat. We look forward to seeing you all again in an even better and more productive 2017!