Thai multi-brand concept store, SIWILAI, turns five this May, and an anniversary seems like the best time to celebrate where we came from, how far we’ve come, and where we hope to go.
Our Thainess is intrinsic to our identity; it’s who we are and grounds everything we do, from the food we serve to the tunes we play. For us, Thainess is walking the balance between respecting tradition and embracing the best of modernity. Growing is good—when you’ve got strong roots.
As we celebrate the growth of SIWILAI with a 5th –year Anniversary Party/Celebration on May 15, 2019, we looked back to Thai history for inspiration. From a fortified capital in Ayutthaya to the accelerated megacity of Bangkok, Thai progress has always flowed through its cultural artery, the Chao Phraya river. The river is the center of SIWILAI’S identity, and at the heart of our fifth year anniversary festivities. A large-scale art installation, Flow of Progress, takes pride of place at the celebration, a broad collaboration between the creative and cultural communities of Thailand. Artist-architect Phahonchai “Tom” Premjai, emerging designers from Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Architecture led by professor Supitcha Tovivich, cultural conservationists from Bangpratun and the craftspeople of Tha Kha Floating Market all come together to share knowledge, experience, and ideas in the living artwork. The installation piece pays homage to the common feature of all the collaborators’ lives – the river as a sustaining life force, nurturing the flow of culture and resources into the city.
The installation, which is now open to the public until July 31, is divided into three sections. The first, the Flow of the River, comprises of matter that has been fished out of the river’s waters. The detritus has been collected by clean-up initiative Trash Hero and the Wat Chak Daeng recycling center in Samut Prakan province. These unwanted trash items become the raw materials for the installation’s first section, inviting viewers to rethink our role in waste creation, reduction and re-imagination.
The second section, the Flow of Life, brings the crafting traditions of two of the country’s last waterside communities, the people of Bangpratun in Bangkok and Tha Kha Floating Market in Samut Songkhram. Threatened by encroaching modernity, the conservationists of Bang Pathun are working to preserve and pass on the local wisdom of their ancestors, such as the artful weaving of coconut husks into objects and sculptures. This traditional craft technique is shared by many of Thailand’s riverside areas, and is liberally applied throughout this portion of the installation.
The final part, Passing Forward, is a culmination of the first two sections. It takes the form of an experimental design workshop challenging young designers from the Faculty to imagine creative, forward-thinking applications of the river’s resources and the local wisdom of its communities. The student designs will then be brought to life by professional architects as spatial experiences marrying the past, present and future.
A birthday celebration wouldn’t be complete without a feast, so we’ve tasked chef and SIWILAI collaborator Phanuphon “Black” Bulsuwan with feeding our friends and family. Owner-operator of 100% zero-waste restaurant Blackitch Artisan Kitchen in Chiang Mai, Black is a well-known educator and advocate for locality, seasonality and sustainability with all the passion but none of the preachiness. For this special occasion, Black has created a Leaves to Roots menu featuring dishes inspired by the SIWILAI brand, which he’ll be dishing out from a live station at our birthday party. His full menu will also be available for all to try at SIWILAI Cafe until June 16, 2019.
Finally, our celebration sees the full and official release of the SIWILAI Patent series, our first-ever in-house clothing line created together with friends of SIWILAI. Spearheading the debut collection, SIWILAI Patent 001, is Japanese designer and founder of Tokyo-based brand Bedwin and the Heartbreakers, Masafumi “Bebetan” Watanabe. Drawing inspiration from traditional Thai leisurewear, Bebetan’s capsule consists of clean, quality streetwear staples with distinctively Thai touches. Think slogan tees and sweaters emblazoned with tuk-tuks, elephants and chedis; farmer jackets and pants cut from locally-sourced Mauhom fabrics; and Talay shirt nodding to the bold, loud prints that come out to play during summer. Plus, bags, socks and accessories to complete your everyday look.
Come celebrate with us throughout the month of May at SIWILAI Store, SIWILAI Cafe and SIWILAI City Club, all located on the 5th Floor of Central Embassy.