Jun 28, 2012|
My grandfather and my uncle inspired my love of drawing, along with Japanese cartoons like Slam Dunk and Doraemon. I used to draw cartoons and give them away to all my high school friends.
I knew little about architecture when I started at Silpakorn University. All I knew was that I wanted to study something that would let me draw but make more money than fine arts. I was even put on probation in my first year because I devoted all my attention to my art subjects.
Reading lots of books helped me realize that the architecture world didn’t begin and end with professors.
I found a French book on deconstructionist architecture which really pushed me to want to create challenging and provocative works without fear of bad grades from my professors.
Architecture is all about choices. When I finally got praise from a professor, it made me realize that you don’t need to follow the masses to leave an impression. If you and the client agree on the value of your work, that’s enough.
Don’t waste your time once you find what you love. I was struggling to get good grades at Silpakorn, trying to stick to the style that I liked, so I dropped out in my third year and transferred to study at the Pratt Institute in New York. I was able to graduate with honors.
I came back to be a professor at ABAC for 3-4 years before I got my first architect project, designing a house for Kajbodint Sudlabha, editor-in-chief of Daybeds magazine.
It was a really inspiring moment to see my design constructed for the first time. It was much more impressive than on paper. And it led to more design jobs.
Grow your business gradually. Know your limitations. I founded VaSLab with my friend, Boonlert Deeyuen, in the garage of my grandfather’s home. We had only three staff members at the beginning, now we have more than a dozen.
Don’t create an illusion to gain credibility. We try to be sincere to our clients about the type of work we like to do, not simply try to please them at every turn.
Friendship is important in this business. Buildings aren’t made of paper; they must stand for a lifetime. You need to give your clients a gift that they will enjoy for the next 20 years.
People need to be educated on how to appreciate architectural work. Many see a design as a pricy piece of paper and don’t value the creativity. Those who value knowledge and experiences are willing to pay what it takes.
Thai architects don’t need to aspire to reach international levels. Just focus on competing locally. If we keep it up, international acceptance will follow naturally. I actually admire the quality and creativity of work around today.
We need to encourage our new generation to express their creativity. Our education system puts too much emphasis on pleasing professors and this attention to good grades alone is destroying us.
There is no right or wrong in design. You must have faith in your creativity.
Bangkok compares favorably to Paris, London, Tokyo and New York, which I consider my second home. We have such a vivid culture and so many layers of living: there is high-end architecture in the form of five-star hotels and malls, while there are also more underground scenes like Patpong or Klongtom. People might look at these as dirty, but I see them as alive.
Thailand really lacks museums. I dream of building a contemporary art museum and something I’d call Christ People Park, which I’d like to be a church-plus-museum where people can gather to talk about Christ’s work.
I had a total meltdown when I broke up with my wife. I felt I lost my identity. I went on a booze binge, going out every night. It was like living on the dark side.
I finally stopped when I realized that partying didn’t relieve my sorrow. I went out to meet girls but I still felt lonely. I thank God and my friends and family for helping me get through this tough period. They taught me forgiveness and to understand unconditional love.
When you’ve nearly reached a goal you start appreciating the beautiful things in life. You might topple to the ground, but this gives you the strength to reach the finish line.
Becoming an architect won’t make you rich in the short term. You must be patient. Many of my friends stopped doing it because they wanted to make more money faster. One of them used to be top of the class, too!
I love bare concrete walls as they hide nothing and reveal the truth of the material. I especially like the imperfections as they also remind me of humanity’s faults.
Our lives are never straightforward. It’s better that we sometimes take a fall in order to get a better perspective on life.
Live your life according to love. I believe everyone should think positively and that love can overcome anything.