This years’ Bangkok Design Week (BKKDW) was held from 4-12 February, under the theme of “Urban ‘NICE’zation” to showcase the potential of Thai creative designers as well as the city’s assets and resources. The aim of the week was to promote a “creative economy” by using art to bring some of the different areas of the city to light.
BKKDW attracts people from all over the world and invites them to explore the latest developments in Bangkok’s design scene. This year the festival covered three main themes: City & Living, Well-Being & Gastronomy, and Creative Business, providing something for everyone. Nulty Bangkok was thrilled to spend an evening visiting three important art venues, each with its own charm and fascinating historical background.
Prapa Maen Si
We started our journey at Prapa Maenam Si, a 100-year-old water tower from the late 1800’s. The tower has been abandoned for almost 20 years since the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration moved its headquarters to Samse and BKKDW sought to bring the building back to life. Designers were invited to collaborate in lighting the space by using a range of mediums including lighting displays, color, sound, and art installations. The result was a combination of dynamic designs that highlighted issues relating to water and climate change.
One of the highlights of the water tower was FOS Design Studio’s use of light mapping technology to highlight “32 degrees Fahrenheit” – the freezing point of water and what this temperature means for global warming. As the tower is related to water, or “Nahm” in Thai, the projection told the story of the melting ice caps. Each column of the tower was illuminated by projections that represent ice and in turn drew attention to the all-important number, 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Designers SP/N designed an experimental piece about “creating boundaries” using materials from the surrounding area. Not only did this installation create physical barriers around the water tower, but it also created a fluidity within the urban space by simulating water. The illuminated walls created by the transparent material allowed people to observe the reflection of light from the tower. As sunlight and the light cast from the tower changed throughout the day, so did the feelings and emotions evoked in those that visited.
Bangkok Postal Headquarters
Next, we visited the Bangkok Postal Headquarters, the first post office in Thailand and the Interactive Flower Experience by 27 June Studio. The experience utilised augmented reality technology to provide virtual interactions for visitors. Projection mapping cast lively flower patterns onto the façade of the building. And to push the boundaries even more, sightseers were invited to draw their own flower and scan it into a system that then projected their design directly onto the building. It was amazing see your artwork come to life as it floated across the face of the post office building, mingling with other visitor’s drawings.
Another interactive project within the area took place under Phra Pokklao Bridge in Phra Pokklao Park. This installation was an interactive floor that encouraged visitors to play with projections. Each step that you took on the floor caused virtual flowers to bloom. We loved this installation; it was such a unique experience, and we had great fun exploring AR technology and how it creates virtual interactions.
Pop-up Blossom, Pak Khlong Talat flower market
The final destination of our BKKDW night out was Pak Khlong Talat flower market. This installation was crafted by second-year architectural students from Silpakorn University. Named “Pop-Up Blossom”, this design featured a traditional Thai-style merchant’s umbrella, which cast warm, flickering lights onto the bridge to symbolise the vibrancy found in Thailand’s colourful marketplaces. Another design in the area incorporated star-shaped flowers that are commonly found at Pak Khlong market, within a purple cube made up of fluorescent linear light.