The Development of Thai Identity into Contemporary Interior Design Space Case Study: Thai Spa

By Pisprapai Sarasalin and Orapun Sarasalin Schafer.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Today’s interior design is focused on trend, fashion, and style. This is achieved through using visual symbols and forms; “Thai style” is a visual collection of ingredients deemed to be “Thai” in origin. This formal language relies heavily on visual imagery, neglecting the other sensorial experiences and relationships within an interior space. I agree with Juhani Pallasmaa who states that “The architecture of our time is turning into the retinal art of the eye. Architecture at large has become an art of the printed image fixed by the hurried eye of the camera.” Interior space is in direct contact with human beings, mediating between man and architecture. As an interior design educator in Thailand, I search to propose guidelines for translating Thai identity into a contemporary interior design language, bringing back the emphasis on multi-sensorial experiences, atmosphere, and spatial relationships rather than visual symbolism. Using a Thai spa as a case study and a traditional Thai house (Ruen Thai Derm) as a source of inspiration, everyday sensory experiences become key ingredients for shaping space.

Keywords: Translating Thai Identity, Traditional Thai House, Multi-sensorial Experiences, Atmosphere, Contemporary Interior Design Language, Thai Spa

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.27-37. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 17.997MB).

Pisprapai Sarasalin

Dean, Faculty of Art and Design, Rangsit University, Muang, Pathumthani, Thailand

Professor Pisprapai Sarasalin is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Art and Design and Program Director at the Graduate Program in Design at Rangsit University. She has worked as visiting professor at both Silapakorn and Chulalongkorn Universities in Bangkok, Thailand. Since 1986, she has taught in both the undergraduate and graduate schools at Rangsit University, heading courses such as History of Western Architecture and Interior Design, Introduction to Interior Design, as well as Design Seminar and Senior Thesis in various departments. She founded the RSU Art and Design Company for Rangsit University. She is also the founder and an active member of the Interior Architecture and Interior Design Association of Thailand. With a background in design, she attended the graduate school at the University of Kansas and worked as a designer for Hallmark Cards, Inc. for 13 years. Her work relates to various disciplines such as graphic design, calligraphy, illustration, textile design, and interior design. Professor Sarasalin has written an academic book entitled, “History of Western Architecture and Interior Design in the 20th Century.” Other research and development topics range from design products that utilize natural Asian materials to contemporary adaptation of classical Thai textiles. Her most recent research, “Preserving Identity in a Global Context, Case Study: Architecture and Interior Design” was internationally published in the 3rd Volume of the Design Principles and Practices Journal.

Orapun Sarasalin Schafer

Adjunct Faculty, Faculty of Art and Design, Rangsit University, Muang, Patumthani, Thailand

Orapun Sarasalin Schafer was born in Kansas, U.S.A. and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. She moved to Arizona in 1998 to pursue a degree in architecture from the University of Arizona. In 2003, upon graduation, she began working as a Project Designer in California for an architecture office that specialized in public and residential projects. She received her Architect’s License from the State of California in 2006. That same year, she began her graduate studies in Ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her ceramic work mixes industrial production techniques with handcraft—a philosophy that carries into the design practice she operates with her husband, David. Studiomake is an interdisciplinary design studio led by both Orapun and David Schafer, working in the realm of architecture, interior, furniture, and object design. She teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Program at Rangsit University, a graduate program that brings students of multiple disciplines together under the umbrella of design. Studiomake’s work has been published in Dwell Magazine (U.S.A.), Architecture Magazine (U.S.A.), Wallpaper Magazine (Thailand), and numerous international publications. Her self-produced industrial ceramic work has won the Design Distinction Award from I.D. Magazine’s Annual Design Review both in 2009 and 2010.