Bangkok, Thailand | Wood: red oak
Nong Chotipatoomwan is a Bangkok-based designer with a desire to create better products and experiences with everyday objects. Her approach to design is a reflection that considers form with practicality, experiences, and an understanding of contemporary life. Trained as an industrial designer from RISD and RCA, her interest in creating holistic experiences has inspired her to work in fashion, furniture, lighting, and spatial design. Her graduation project 'Landing Space' has been long-listed for Dezeen Awards in 2018, shortlisted for the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation Award 2017 and she was featured on Sight Unseen as one of the ‘Talents to watch for 2017’.
‘I’m Buddhist, so I meditate to help me regather my thoughts. But I know it’s hard for people to sit still, do nothing and reflect by themselves. So, instead, I thought about objects that would help people relax. The rocking chair came to mind.’
The design process
‘The brief came right after I handed in my resignation,’ Chotipatoomwan explains. ‘As soon as I read it I immediately thought of mental health because people have been living in isolation and been stuck at home for so long. We’re just not used to being alone and separated, so it seemed an obvious thing to focus on.’ Subsequently, she became interested in creating a product that would relax people.
The making of the final piece
Chotipatoomwan elected to use red oak for the chair because she was fascinated by its grain. ‘It’s quite expressive and I was interested in its porous nature,’ she says. ‘To begin with I thought I was going to steam bend lots of components, so it’s good for that too. My design has a lot of curves.’ The team at Fowseng were concerned that steam bending would affect the elasticity of the wood so different sections were cut out instead. ‘It was very complicated to make,’ says the company’s technical manager.’ There were a plethora of different angles for the separate pieces of wood.’
The end result
Thought Bubble’s extraordinary form came at the behest of Chotipatoomwan’s mentor Nathan Yong. ‘He suggested that, because this project is worldwide, it would be good to put a bit of your own culture into it. The first thing that came to my mind was the triangular pillow. In Thailand, people sit, gather around and have a social conversation, or eat and relax around the object. I wanted to take that and transform it into a rocking chair. I created this piece to help users transit from one state of mind to another. From outside, into your own thought bubble.’