On my last day in Bangkok I discovered the Thailand Creative & Design Center and was completely blown away. This government funded space is a resource library, event space, exhibition space, store, coffee shop and materials library all in one. A place for designers of all disciplines; Interior Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Architecture, Textiles, Marketing, Product Design; to research, work, make presentations and even sell their wares. I can barely contain my excitement about this place! I essentially had to be kicked out at closing time after bombarding their super friendly staff with questions.
Honestly, I’m tempted to write this post in all caps just to express how COMPLETELY AMAZING IT IS! … Ok, no. Here’s the scoop;
The Thailand Creative & Design Center, Bangkok
The TCDC was established in 2004 in an effort to shift the country’s economy towards more entrepreneurship and innovation and away from cheap labour. The TCDC website has this to say:
Thailand’s economic crisis in 1997 had raised issues regarding our economic strength; that an effective economic driving force was needed to handle the challenges we faced, and that building a new economic system based on knowledge and creativity was the key to create our opportunity and advantage in the international arena.
The heart of the TCDC is the Library which is a contemporary and open space with communal work tables, cozy lounge areas, and current displays of members work throughout. With over 34,000 design volumes, I’ve never seen so many design related books in one place – most of which are in English. They also have a great collection of periodicals, documentary films, and other multi-media resources and two small central pods that members can book for viewing DVDs with a small group. There are also glass-enclosed group work and meeting hubs, a members lounge, and an auditorium where they host industry speakers and seminars.
Those who know me and my passion for a collaborative design community can likely sense that I would DIE to have a space like this in Vancouver. The best part? The Material Library at the back of the facility. This area houses over 3,000 samples (and an even larger online catalogue) of innovative, sustainable and overall cutting-edge materials for all sorts of applications. The whole collection is selected and maintained by Material Connexions, which is …
… AN international team of MULTIDISCIPLINARY experts who bridge the gap between science and design to create practical manufacturing solutions.
Basically it’s like an imagination market for design professionals looking to innovate in their field!
On top of these two killer resources, the TCDC also prioritizes public awareness through exhibitions and an on site shop. The space houses a permanent exhibit about the importance of design and as rotating temporary exhibit which members are welcome to curate. The shop sells locally designed products, focusing on member companies, such as textiles, printed papers & stationery, art, household items and more.
The entire center is 40,000 square feet on the top floor of the Empire Mall but this is only the central hub for the TCDC. They also have a sister center in the northern city of Chiang Mae as well as 13 miniTCDC locations at Universities across the country. Each one offers a scaled-down version of the main center’s resources which rotate through out the locations. There are a range of membership categories but full access members pay from $100CAD/year for students up to $400CAD/year for non-Thai citizens. Incredibly affordable by North American standards but of course, this is government subsidized.
What a set up, right? I’m in love … what do you think? There are already friends south-o-the-border who are undertaking creative co-working space (see Make Shift Society for a great example) although the TCDC is a grander scale. Would you make use of a place like this? Let me know what you think in the comments or if you’ve been a member of something similar and what you liked/disliked about it.