Since breaking onto Thailand’s design scene in 1999, JARKEN has asserted itself as an authority on understated panache and elegant interiors
Design principal Sasivimol Sinthawanarong’s zest for modern Thai architecture and elegant interiors has allowed her to undertake projects that embody simplicity and sophistication with the aide of her team at JARKEN.
Ranging from a variety of projects in Scandinavia, the Middle East and across Southeast Asia, the group’s passion for perfection comes from her 50-member team’s extensive experience and tested creativity.
This year, Sasivimol looks forward to more challenging projects and possible collaborations with leading regional artists and designers.
Tell us about your background and how JARKEN was conceptualised.
Growing up, I often found myself drawing portraits of my parents or the humble surroundings of my old childhood neighbourhood in upcountry Thailand. After seeing my sketches, my father said, “You should be an architect!” So I did! I got my degree in Interior Architecture at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, followed by a post-graduate diploma in Interior Design from Domus Academy in Milan, and finally a diploma in Design Management in Parsons, New York. To tell you the truth, JARKEN had never been actually “conceptualised”; it was something I was meant to do based on my instincts, being an architect. It really started off as project-by-project thing with no real business plan!
At JARKEN we create a design culture that encourages everyone to be creative and take an abstract idea and make something with it. Whilst doing so, we promote a “play hard, work hard” ambience that we also infused into our design principles. I would not dare to say our standard is high – we have a long way ahead to go – but we do our best to come up with fresh and thought-provoking ideas whilst having fun! We also do lots of projects or cross-collaborations with other design disciplines, including architectural, styling, branding, or even fashion design, most recently.
Simplicity and elegance are your trademarks. What steps do you take to make sure your designs don’t end up looking dull or dated?
I am always inspired by unforeseen reflection of contemporary design and fashion emerging from the digital and the physical realms and I keep that measure to maintain JARKEN’s signature designs. I also do intensive study and research before every single design project with regards to collaboration of natural forms and functions collapses into object with intrinsic sensory of human behaviour. For me, no encounter in life can ever be dull a result of that.
When working on renovation projects, how do you transform a space while preserving its existing architectural identity?
I don’t always follow the rule of thumb of “forms follow functions”, or vice-versa, suggested by some prominent architect. I tend instead to focus on the subjects of objectivity of my design. For example, Baan Ratchackru was an old, typical townhouse coming close to the end of its life cycle. The homeowners wished to maintain their belief that women are unconquerable by age. That’s the reason why I came up with the “classic feminine” approach for the space while conserving the home’s architectural features.
To what extent do you incorporate the homeowner’s personality into your designs?
I reflect their background, sure. In the case of the SP Garden project, the clients are of Chinese origin, so in order to maintain originality, both in design and in space, I researched how the Chinese race values its culture with regards to one’s wealth. I reinterpreted that into forms of dragon-twisted stand-alone staircase and the traditional Chinese emperor crown instilled clearly on the home’s architecture. Every space was also based on the art and science of Feng Shui, but I guess most people thought it just has that purely modern look. My clients love it because their house tells a story.
“Contemporary design rests on a pantone of emotions expressed and depicted through natural colours that empower attitudes.”
What are your favourite elements in contemporary home design?
Colours. They led me into what is now my passion, communicating design principles through colour. In our project at Baan Sansiri 67, the client was so keen to let my favourite colours speak for themselves within their living space. Contemporary design rests on a pantone of emotions expressed and depicted through natural colours that empower attitudes.
How important is furniture selection for all of your projects? How can you ensure that every piece matches your vision for each space?
Remember that furniture is the very last piece of a big jigsaw puzzle. Either clients lose it or love it. The colour, shape and style of upholstery will have a huge impact on the look and feel of the design. I always consider distinctive styles and practicality of comfort and support to match the design. The client obviously has the final say when it comes to choosing furniture brands, but as a designer I can guide them. I normally advise a homeowner to contemplate personal preferences with regards to the overall environment of their space.