Dao is a renowned Bangkok-based interior designer, the co-founder of her own company, and the visionary behind the recent renovation of Jim Thompson’s Bangkok Home Furnishings showroom. On top of all this she is also an adoring mother of two. We spoke to Dao to find out what inspires her and why she chose to work with Jim Thompson.
Dao originally studied Interior Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island, USA. Following her education, she worked as an interior designer for Woodman Design Group in Boston Massachusetts, and then Brennan Beer Gorman Monk in New York. In 2001 she decided to return to her native Thailand and took up the esteemed position of Design Director for The Premier Group’s luxury resorts; Rayavadee (in Krabi), Tamarind Village (Chiang Mai), and a recently-acquired hotel, tentatively named Raya Heritage (also in Chiang Mai). Dao is also the co-founder of Quattro Design, a furniture showroom where clients can purchase beautiful curated, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and home accessories, handpicked from leading manufacturers around the globe, or specially made in-house.
You co-founded your own company, tell us more about Quattro Design
I established Quattro Design with three friends nearly a decade ago, opening a space in Bangkok to stock finely crafted furnishings. Last year, our company revealed a new, expansive Quattro Design show space in Phuket.
How would you describe your work/design philosophy?
I think I have very eclectic taste in design. I love mixing; i’m in love with the elements of nature, rich textures, vibrant colours and mixing contemporary and vintage, something old with something new. I want to create a story and give life to a space. I like my designs to be unpredictable.
What inspires your interior decoration choices?
My inspiration is everywhere, especially when I travel and get to visit the workspaces of artisans and craftsmen around the world. There is no better inspiration for design than travel and exposure to different cultures and environments.
Why Jim Thompson?
Curating the Jim Thompson rooms at the showroom came naturally for me. I love patterns, vibrant hues and rich textures and Jim Thompson has it all, sophisticated colour, strong silhouettes.. I love that I can juxtapose pieces from different eras in history, or genres of style.
Tell us a bit more about the decisions behind your design choices at the new Jim Thompson showroom:
I used a lot of antiques or one-of-a-kind pieces for this project, reupholstering them using different techniques, as well as curating many customized pieces to maximize the versatility of JT fabrics. In this project, I combined not only the old and the new, but elements of the formal and the casual in new ways that feel right for today.
See more pictures of Dao’s work on the Jim Thompson showroom, Bangkok in our previous post. Aside from Dao’s work on the renovation, Jim Thompson have also collaborated with Quattro Design on multiple occasions, using their up-market designs for our biannual photoshoots and brochures.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 6 Apr 2017
28 March 2017
This March Jim Thompson Home Furnishings celebrated the completion of the months-long renovation of our Bangkok Fabric Showroom.
An incredible transformation from PHTAA Living Design Studio now sees the third and fourth floors open plan, brimming with natural light, and walls adorned with a cool sculpturesque marble. Renowned interior designer, Vichada (Dao) Sikatalin, perfectly captured the essence of Jim Thompson’s identity and unique style by creating five rooms on the third floor, all showcasing Jim Thompson fabrics in situation. Entitled, ‘Opulent Vogue’; ‘Hamptons Dynasty’; ‘Midnight Orient Odyssey’; Forbidden Colours’; and ‘Tropical Colonial’, each space has its own theme and colour scheme. The room sets incorporate fabrics solely from Jim Thompson collections, from the classics to ‘Leo de Janeiro’, the latest offering, designed by Creative Director Ou Baholyodhin.
PHTAA created an art space on the third floor, which already houses the first exhibition, “Renaissance” designed by Sarin Tgamol. Sarin worked with natural materials to create a tree sculpture that plays on the concept of rebirth. The tree is filled with a selection of exotic birds, made solely from recycled Jim Thompson fabric.
The fourth floor is dedicated to our No.9 Thompson, Fox Linton and Studio B lines, but also features fabrics and wallcoverings from European brands, Elitis and Gaston y Daniela.
To celebrate this renovation Jim Thompson hosted a party at the showroom, which was attended by our directors; designers and the rest of the home furnishings team; the Thai press; European designers; as well as many friends of the brand. Delicious canapés were prepared by the talented Chef Num from Samuay & Sons, and the champagne flowed throughout the evening. Thank you to all those in attendance, who made the event an overwhelming success.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 28 Mar 2017
8 March 2017
Model and designer Philip Huang hosted a presentation and dinner earlier this month in aid of the launch of his first fashion collection, "Collection 0, #isandreams’’. Held at a modern private loft-space in Chinatown, New York, the event was inspired by Thai and traditional Isan culture. Jim Thompson supported the launch with fabrics from the latest January Collection. Jim Thompson fabrics were featured as atmospheric floor cushions, chic drapery, and as luxury napkins, adding to the Thai-inspired theme. The presentation focused on the ethos and main inspirations behind Philip’s brand, with an introduction to Isan culture; following this guests were invited to enjoy traditional North-eastern Thai food including papaya salad prepared by Michelin star restaurant Somtum Der. The meal was served in a customary Asian style with guests seated comfortably on Jim Thompson floor cushions, allowing attendees to enjoy the authentic Thai ambience.
After 10 years of experience in the fashion industry Philip Huang wanted to create something of his own, a collection of essentials ideal for travel, wearable in the city or on the beach. “Isan dreams is a transportable world that can bring us anywhere” says Philip. Inspired by the idea that in dreams anything is possible, Isan Dreams is Philip’s capsule collection, shaped by multiple visits to Sakon Nakhon in Thailand, a city within the culturally rich Isan region and renowned for the Indigo cloth the “Indigo Grandmas” produce there. This concept of “journeying” was reflected in the event space where the collection was launched, walking into the heritage building located on the Lower East Side, guests were immediately confronted with a busy Szechuan restaurant called Flaming Kitchen; whilst in the elevator they might bump into someone all dressed up on their way to the Karaoke bar that occupies another floor. Essentially, guests experience a literal journey to arrive at Isan Dreams.
The exhibition occupied two units, rented off of Peerspace, these units were connected by a narrow corridor decorated with neon lights to create a transitional feel, allowing guests to move freely between each space. The presentation was held in the first loft, a space brimming with the owners personal collection of beautiful artifacts, sourced from all over the world. The transitional passageway led guests to the second loft, where the family style dinner, accompanied by a short film on the journey to Isan, took place. Jim Thompson fabrics from the new collections “Leo de Janeiro” and “Negresco” could be found throughout the apartments, Philip said: ‘we couldn't have done it without the help of Jim Thompson, it’s always amazing to work with people you look up to’.
Guests wandered through the exhibition freely, spending time in each area where four different ‘looks’ were created, each worn by four different models. Each model participated in a different activity, these ranged from getting a foot massage (foot massage machines were also available for guests), to writing letters using indigo ink, riding a bike, while the fourth model relaxed in a hammock. To add to the Thai theme, a screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendor was shown and Molam, traditional Isan music, was played. Speaking on the event, Philip said, ‘there was definitely a lot to explore, what I really love is that guests could now visit Isan and would feel an instant sense of familiarity.’
The event was attended by well known designers, writers, Huang’s modeling co-workers and creative friends. Guests included Cecilia Dean (Visionaire), Patrick Li (TMagazine), Chris Bollen (Interview), Waris Ahluwalia (designer and actor), Elizabeth Sulcer (stylist), Ivan Bart (IMG), and Korakrit Arunanondchai (artist), to name a few.
Philip Huang is currently planning a summer party in July to run alongside Men’s Fashion Week NY.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 8 Mar 2017
Douglas Little behind the scenes working on the Jim Thompson window display for this year’s Paris Deco Off at the Jim Thompson Showroom.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 7 Mar 2017
21 February 2017
Douglas Little is a master of visual communication and storytelling. He specialises in interpreting corporate identity and then transforming it into dramatic window displays, products, advertising and other media that articulate the unique sensibility of a particular brand.
A California native, Douglas Little originally studied marketing and product development at UCLA and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After years of working for prominent companies in the beauty and cosmetics industry, he left America to study at the Syndicat National des Fabricants de Produits Aromatiques in Grasse, France. With that experience in hand, he returned to the U.S. in 2003 and founded D.L. & Co.: Modern Alchemists and Purveyors of Curious Goods. Douglas has applied his personal aesthetic to a wide range of products beginning with artisanal perfumed candles and extending to jewelry, porcelain, glass, writing papers, home accessories and personal care items. Douglas has produced window displays for Jim Thompson for both their Paris and London showrooms; as well as for an array of other well-known luxury brands. Most recently, he used his experience in window design as a judge on the American TV show 'Window Warriors'.
How did you first get in to window display design and what did you first love about it?
In 2006 I produced an editorial for House and Garden Magazine called "Gothic Splendor", the 8 page editorial celebrated the dark and romantic mood that had set into interior design. The images were shot in a spectacular mansion in Yonkers, New York where I curated a series of decadent tableaux's complete with legendary model and muse Carmen Dell'Orefice. I showed the images to Linda Fargo at Bergdorf Goodman who immediately suggested that they be windows at the store.
This is how it started. Up until this point I had not done windows per se. When I first got out of school I was recruited to work for a manufacturer of professional cosmetics as an art director. Part of my responsibilities was designing and producing trade show displays and environments for our product launches. This work provided the beginnings for my love of environmental design and developing unique ways of communicating brand identity and product display.
What initially sparked my interest in window display was that it was often overlooked by retailers. In 2006, when my "Gothic Splendor" windows debuted at Bergdorf Goodman, window dressing was not a major topic of discussion. Now, window dressing has made a massive resurgence with retailers investing big money in their windows, retailers understand that they are a unique and important means of communication with their customers. Outside of the business of window display I also love the immersive story telling that they allow. A good window should transport the viewer and provide a moment of pure fantasy.
What inspired the latest collection of fantastic beasts for the Jim Thompson Deco Off display?
When we begin discussing ideas for Paris Deco Off I ask Ou Baholyodhin (Creative Director for Jim Thompson) to tell me about his inspiration for the fabric collections. I was completely taken with Leo De Janeiro - the fabric pattern inspired by the dancing lion of January, and Ming Ming - the opulent silk jacquard adorned with traditional Asian motifs.
I wanted to take inspiration from the fabrics and bring them to life in an elegant and whimsical way, a sort of three-dimensional Chinoiserie behind the glass. With window display, you have about three seconds to get your viewers attention and these fantastic beasts are both visually arresting and charming.
Where do you go for inspiration for a new project and how do you come up with a new design?
I find a lot of my inspiration in fairytales, verses and idioms, like "cat got your tongue" or "thick as thieves”; I love these old fashioned sayings as they are imbedded into our subconscious and make for great visual inspiration. When I am developing a new design idea I like to draw my inspiration from the materials I am working with and let them "speak" to me. I personally feel that each material has a language of its own and it takes time and patience to articulate their poetry.
You are a window display and set designer but have also designed a wide range of products and have specialised in scent. Is working with scent very different to other aspects of design?
Working with scent is my passion. I have been obsessed with fragrance since I was a child and have spent any spare time indulging in its history and creation. What I love about fragrance is that it is invisible and dramatically different from my other design projects. Fragrance is also wildly personal and subject to interpretation, which is another reason that I love it so deeply. It causes us to communicate with one another in new and deeply engaging ways, talking about the way a fragrance makes one feel or how it reminds them of a loved one or favorite place and time.
(Explore Douglas’ Fragrance brand, Heretic Perfume here)
How do your various design expertise come together?
We are living in an age obsessed with technology and companies are trying to figure out new and innovative ways of engaging with their customers. Engaging the senses is one of the most important and poignant ways to do this. More and more I am being asked by clients to design the way something will look and how it might smell. In my work on Queen of the Night at the Diamond Horseshoe in NYC I was hired as the set and scent designer where I created opulent environmental design that was reinforced with fragrances that emphasized and accentuated the spaces.
When you’re not working, what do you love to do?
I am an avid motorcycle rider and enthusiast, love cooking, drinking wine and playing with our three bulldogs.
Aside from creating inventive window displays for Jim Thompson, Douglas’ client list includes Van Cleef & Arpels, Barney’s New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Maxfield Los Angeles, Neiman Marcus, Harry Winston, Mrs. John L. Strong, Ports 1961, Nasher Sculpture Museum and the Dallas Museum of Art. For more, visit his website here.
By Amelia Jim Thompson on 21 Feb 2017