When do you hope to be operating from your new premises?
The original plan was to move by the end of this year. But the building is under the administration of Thailand Post, which means a lot of paperwork since the building itself belongs to the Treasury Department. It’s all very complicated, but we hope to be open at our new spot by February next year.
What will be new when you finally open?
We already have a master plan that we don’t want to just move there but actually form a community. We aim to make Charoenkrung Road a creative district, and are working with groups of creatives in the area, especially galleries. Our space will not just be for people in the design industry; it’ll be for everyone involved with the creative economy: filmmakers, animators, SMEs and new start-ups. We see these people as cultural assets with the power to create a huge impact on our city. We’ve designed the space so that users can share it, hold talks, meetings, workshops or whatever they want. There will also be a design lab with tools like 3D printing, and a digital platform that lets people access TCDC remotely.
How will the architecture differ from before?
We feel that our old space was not open enough. We want the new space to be more inviting and energetic. We decided to work with the Department of Architecture, led by leading Thai architects Amata Luphaiboon and Twitee Vajrabhaya Teparkum, because we loved how their concept integrated a contemporary TCDC with the 80-year-old building. Their core traffic design is about circulating people from the old building and into the new space. We also plan to make it easily accessible by the river so people can connect from BTS Saphan Taksin.
Now that the government has killed the creative economy act, how does the affect your work with OKMD?
Honestly, I don’t know about the future of OKMD yet. Now we’re working on the 2016 budget while next year is still unclear. We’ll continue to do our best because we know that we’re doing the right thing for the country. We all know that Thailand is stuck in the middle, between a developing and developed nation. We can’t rely on agriculture, we can’t rely on manufacturing—our wages are higher and resources too expensive. So we need innovation if we are to grow.
What other projects is TCDC is working on now?
We’re changing our direction to work more on policy level with giant government sectors to drive things forward. We’re also working on the opening of the new TCDC in Khon Kaen and Hat Yai in Songkla along with trying to organize Bangkok Design Week to alternate with Chiang Mai Design Week, which we host twice a year. Our ultimate aim is to make Bangkok a design capital by 2021.