Studio 150 is a Bangkok-based graphic design studio founded in 2017 by Piyakorn Chaiverapundech and Pat Laddaphan. The studio works with a wide range of materials including printed matter, identity design, web design, design research and art direction. Piyakorn and Pat, who worked together for three years before founding the studio, place a heavy emphasis on research and communication in developing their projects, not wanting to be tied down to a specific medium.
“Graphic design is a powerful communication tool, but we are very open to all creative media,” they tell It’s Nice That. “Most of the time what motivates us is the content of the work itself. We find it very challenging and motivating to analyse the content and try to find the best way to communicate it to the audience.”
Studio 150’s focus on communication comes from Piyakorn’s education in visual communication and graphic design at Umprum, Prague and Pat’s training in information design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. This focus is realised through their attentive use of typography, often using bold shapes to create strong identities in the work they produce, for example, in the duo’s recent work for Non Native Native. Despite making work that looks extremely contemporary, with timely techniques and trends that have trickled into the transnational design language, the heart of the studio lies in its situational context in Bangkok.
“Graphic design in Thailand is growing. However, it still has a long way to go. We need to step out from the traditional mindset and perception towards graphic design and look at the context we are living in. Bangkok is a very big city with many problems and issues that are waiting to be solved,” the studio notes.
Piyakorn and Pat are not scared to lead by example either. In Whether It Is Art or Not, they published a catalogue highlighting the work of Chavalit Sermprungsuk, a Thai artist who has lived and worked in Amsterdam for over 50 years. Chavalit has been Photoshopping his paintings onto museums walls and sharing these on his Facebook, shifting the exhibition space from the white cube to the social network. “After we approached him about the catalogue, he sent us an SD card from Amsterdam. The card contained thousands of images in .psd format,” states the studio. They were amazed by his attention to detail upon opening the files. “Every element in the photo was curated. He chose the background, the audiences, and sometimes even adds the museum guard to sit next to his paintings.”
They incorporated this layer-by-layer approach into the design of the catalogue. “We dissected the work into layers; the background, the painting, and the audience. In the last chapter, we made an index of Chavalit’s digital works by visualising the frequency of his posting routine,” they say, noting that Chavalit was only ever offline when he went back to Thailand in the winter or when he was at the hospital.
It was from this project that Piyakorn and Pat realised there was potential to grow the design community in Bangkok. After creating the self-funded catalogue, they didn’t know where they might sell this book. Working with Bangkok CityCity Gallery, they started the Bangkok Art Book Fair in 2017, the third edition of which just took place in September. “We realised that in Bangkok, we lacked a platform or space where artists, designers and makers can share their work. We chose the Art Book Fair because we believe in the book as a medium. It’s a medium that everyone’s familiar with. You don’t need to teach people how to use a book,” the studio states.
Studio 150’s engagement with the design community doesn’t stop there. Starting out as Piyakron’s graduation project, The Rambutan is an initiative that questions the role of the graphic designer in Thailand. “Designers are often brought in at the end of the process to market or decorate an idea. For us, we believe graphic design could do much more than that. So The Rambutan aims to challenge the traditional role of a graphic designer to encourage young designers to take on initiatives within Thailand’s social and political context,” the studio notes.
The Rambutan started out with workshops, which turned into an annual publication called Term Paper first released in 2018, sharing “the stories of people, pedagogies, and emerging movements in graphic design.” The latest issue, Below Sea Level, focuses on how graphic design is taught in the Netherlands, with the origins of the project coming from Pat’s time in the Netherlands. It’s clear that the studio’s restless energy and desire to grow the design community in Bangkok is nowhere close to slowing down.