Darunotai Vajrodaya, owner and designer of Magical Realism tells Horizon on how she turned her passion for jewelry into a profession.
Can you tell us a little bit about Magical Realism?
I wanted to be a jewelry designer since I was 15 because I love fashion, and jewelry is my passion. Founded in 2015, my company now has four jewelry and accessories brands including Darunotai, Magical Realism, Charming Realism and Maya Luxana; each of them has different characteristics and target customers.
Could you explain more about your brands?
My first brand, Darunotai is a fine jewelry brand. This collection was developed from my graduation project, Lost at Sea, which I did at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of Arts, London. This collection was inspired by the tentacles of an octopus. I considered the tentacles as free form lines, and imagined how they could take shapes and forms on the human body. So came the design of the Darunotai collection. The Magical Realism brand focuses on fashion accessories such as bag and rings, inspired by everyday objects, which are redesigned with added functions and gimmicks such as a handbag that looks like a liquor bottle. The Charming Realism brand offers fashion jewelry at an affordable price while Mayaluxana is ultra luxury fine jewelry with the concept of mythical creatures from the Himavanta Forest, a legendary forest in Hindu mythology.
What are the strengths of your brands?
We deliberately select good quality materials from different sources domestically and internationally to ensure the pieces of jewelry will help improve the wearers’ personality and they should feel comfortable wearing them. All collections are handmade and can be customized. We allow our customers to choose the materials they prefer for their jewelry and the price will be based on these materials, such as gemstones, gold and silver.
What is your proudest success?
I was chosen by Wallpaper Magazine as a jewelry designer to watch for 2014 in the UK. My work, Darunotai collection – then my graduation project – was featured in Wallpaper Magazine’s Next Generation January 2014 issue.
Where do you sell your jewelry?
Customers can find and purchase our jewelry collections at the Emporium department store in Bangkok as well as online channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and Line.
Who are your customers?
Currently, 60% of our customers are international and the rest are Thais. However, each brand has different target customers. Europeans prefer Darunotai, while people from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Middle East like to buy the Charming Realism collection. Mayaluxana, so far, targets Thais because they understand the background of the Himmavanta Forest, and are ready to pay for this ultra-luxury collection. Magical Realism’s target customers are Russians and Chinese.
What are your future plans?
I want to have a flagship store in Thailand and will actively expand to international markets by opening a pop-up shop or showcasing and distributing my collections in famous jewelry trade fairs. I will focus more on boosting brand awareness through the website and social media where I can closely monitor the customers’ purchasing behaviour, interact with them and get feedback in real-time. This helps me to better create the collection to meet their demands. I also plan to submit my jewelry collection to the Design Excellent Award (DEmark) and I believe that if I win the award, I will get a greater opportunity to penetrate these markets.
For more information, please visit www.darunotai.com or follow FB:MagicalRealismWorld, Instagram:MagicalRealismWorld and Line ID: Houseof Magic.
Photo courtesy of Magical Realism
Horizon talks to Sasathorn Na Songkhla, managing director of Sabai-arom, on how she develops skincare collections from local ingredients and exports them around the world.
Can you tell us a little bit about Sabai-arom?
Sabai-arom means happy mood. We are a manufacturer and distributor of beauty products under the brand Sabai-arom. Sustainable happiness is at the heart of our business because we want to do meaningful business and deliver products that make everyone happy.
What makes your products special?
We use 100% local ingredients because we believe in the quality of local Thai raw materials. I am a detail-oriented person, all production processes must be carried out carefully, from sourcing materials to manufacturing products and designing the packaging. My team and I travel throughout Thailand to search for the best chemical-free ingredients for our products. We source ingredients from farmers who care about the ecology and their crops, and love what they do. As I mentioned earlier, happiness is the key ingredient of our products, therefore, I want to ensure that everyone in the business chain is happy.
What are your main collections?
Currently, Sabai-arom offers two main product lines: beauty products and home ambience solutions. For beauty products, you can find lotions, soap shampoos and massage oils, while home ambience solutions include aroma reed diffusers and aroma candles. We have more than 10 collections of beauty products with different scents, for example our Divine Mango collection is made from the Mahachanok mango from Lamphun province. It’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Our Coconut de Samui collection consists of a variety of products using ingredients derived from coconuts on Koh Samui, which is Thailand’s most famous tourist destination and coconut plantation.
Who are your customers?
Sabai-arom customers are Thais and foreign tourists especially from Asian countries. Currently, our products are available at over 200 branches of Boots retail shops throughout Thailand. About 40% of our products are exported to Japan, Russia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macau, and we will soon export to South Korea. Moreover, we have Sabai-arom shops in Japan and Malaysia.
Which awards have you won?
Sabai-arom has been selected and approved by the DITP to use the Thailand Trust Mark (T/Mark), which is the symbol of excellence and trusted quality for Thai products.
How do you see the future of Sabai-arom?
We are continuing to develop our products with more collections and plan to expand to overseas markets. We want to see Sabai-arom become the most popular skincare brand with Thai consumers, and one of the best gifts that foreign tourists can purchase for their loved ones. Sabai-arom also hopes to work more closely with Thai farmers and help the local communities that supply our ingredients.
For more information, visit www.sabai-arom.com
Food Designer, Nick Vipittichak Pitthayanont, proves that even without formal training, a determination to pursue a hobby can lead to success on the global stage.
Can you tell us about your job as a Food Designer?
It’s wonderful to be able to integrate visual arts into food-related knowledge and create a masterpiece. Apart from designing food on a plate, food designers can do other things like creating menus, developing restaurant concepts, [acting as a] F&B consultant, and providing advice related to food presentation. I advise clients on how to wow their customers the minute they step inside a restaurant because in today’s F&B industry, it’s important how the food looks as customers tend to use their eyes to eat before their mouths.
How can you create designs that reflect your ideas and also embrace customers’ hearts?
I call myself a ‘food designer’ or ‘food plating artist’ because to me a plate is like a canvas that can be painted with different colours of food. While taste is a key element of gastronomy, designing the plate and presenting the food in an artful manner also enhances the pleasure the diner derives from enjoying the dish.
What was the inspiration for your job?
From the beginning, cooking has been one of my favourite pastimes and together with my interest in art, I also gained an art degree in graphic design. When I cooked at home, I would decorate the different dishes and post them on social media. Instagram proved a great platform to make my works of art visible to a wide audience. Foreign chefs started following me on Instagram. As a result, I was constantly being contacted to recreate this kind of work.
What is your proudest experience as a Food Designer?
My work was featured on the front cover of Four Magazine, which is considered the UK’s leading magazine for the food industry. They contacted me when they saw my work on Instagram and asked me to design a plate for their cover. I decided to choose a dish of sticky rice with mango to represent Thainess. Another time was being interviewed by CNN, who complimented me on my determination and being self-taught. They even called me the Thai Gordon Ramsay. I felt very honoured.
Do you have any tips for those starting out upon this career?
To be a food designer, you have to possess a passion for the subject, practice your craft and be willing to improve yourself.
What are your future plans?
I planned to have a food styling workshop for those who want to learn the art of food plating, but it seems a bit difficult now, as I have to fly back and forth from Thailand to support restaurants in many countries, such as the Alto Sky Lounge at Hatten Hotel Melaka, the Zahr El-Laymoun in Dubai, Riva Arun, Bangkok and the Dom Café and Bistro, Bangkok.
Teerapol Akaratiwa, and Warunya Nuntasunti, managing directors of Least Studio, tell how their company has patented a new formula for rubber materials into lifestyle items.
Could you tell us the story behind Least Studio?
Least Studio was founded three years ago by a small group of Thai designers who share the same passion and design principle. Our refined products combine thoughtful designs with user experiences. With our architectural background, we believe that good design must be functional and create a good user experience.
Can you explain what is special about your cutting mat?
An ordinary cutting mat is durable and self-healing, but its texture and weight are not suitable for our lifestyle products. Therefore, Least Studio and a rubber component factory joined forces to conduct research and develop a new formula for a rubber material, which can be used to produce lifestyle products including handbags, document folders, pencil cases, passport holders and sketchbooks. Our new formula 100% natural rubber cutting mat is lightweight, self-healing, waterproof, scratch-proof and durable, without having a rubber smell.
What makes your products special?
In addition to their standard functions, users can use the products’ surface as a cutting mat. We tested them with a scalpel and it did not scratch or tear.
Who are your potential customers?
Everyone who loves design items are our potential customers. We target customers in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. If the Japanese love and accept our products, it means our quality meets a high standard.
Have you won any awards?
Our folder holder and tablet holder won the Design Excellence Award (DEmark) in 2016 and was selected by the DITP to be exhibited at Design Korea 2016. This folder is made from our special cutting mat and suitable for everyday use.
How has the DEmark Award helped your brand?
DEmark guarantees our outstanding design and product quality. This enhances customer confidence in our products. As a DEmark Award winner, Least Studio has a great opportunity to promote our products at many trade fairs in Thailand and abroad with the assistance of the DITP.
What is the future for Least Studio?
The company plans to extend the product line, probably into furniture, and we may supply this unique cutting mat as the raw material for other producers who are interested in using it for their products. We try our best to create new designs to meet the needs of customers.
For more information, visit www.leaststudio.com, follow FB: Least Studio and IG: leaststudio
Horizon talks with Kanida Sanee, managing director of Richy Rice, about how she has developed rice crackers to export to international markets.
What was the inspiration for your rice crackers?
About seven to eight years ago my home province, Phatthalung, faced the problem of having an excessive stock of Sangyod rice, so I tried to help solve this problem. At fairs our customers told us they wanted their children to eat Sangyod brown rice, but most of them rejected it. That challenged us to think about making processed Sangyod rice to serve that need. So we came up with rice crackers.
Could you tell us more about Sangyod rice?
Sangyod rice is the traditional rice from Phatthalung province in southern Thailand. It has been grown throughout the province for more than a hundred years and now it has GI status. Sangyod is an aromatic rice, which is delicious and good for the health because it is high in fibre. Our products are made from organic Sangyod rice.
When did you develop Richy Rice?
In 2013, my company worked with the Prince of Songkla University to research and develop new products, and we started marketing the crispy Sangyod rice cracker in late 2014. THAIFEX is one showcase where we collected feedback from consumers for our further product development.
What different flavours do you have?
Currently, we produce several processed Sangyod rice products, including crispy Sangyod rice cracker with teriyaki sauce, crispy Sangyod rice cracker with chocolate almond, Sangyod rice cracker with roasted chilli paste, and Sangyod rice soft crunch chocolate. Our rice cracker is different from other brands because it is made from Sangyod rice, which can be only grown in Phatthalung province.
Who are your key customers?
From the beginning, I have focused on exporting products to other countries. Now, about 90% of total sales comes from international markets and the rest is domestic. The biggest markets are Singapore, China and the Netherlands while we have seen higher demand in Vietnam and Malaysia.
What is your best-selling product?
The best seller is crispy cracker with chocolate almond. However, consumers in each market also prefer different flavours, for example, the Chinese and Singaporeans love crispy cracker with teriyaki sauce while the Europeans love Thai flavours, such as cracker with roasted chili paste.
What are your future plans?
Richy Rice will launch crackers with other flavours such as wasabi. We plan to explore new markets including South Korea and Japan as well as being an OEM for other brands.
For more information, follow FB:richyriceproducts and IG:richyrice