Pratarn Teeratada, 51, is one of the most influential figures in Thailand’s architecture and design community. In 1995, he was part of the team that founded Art4D, a pioneering art and design publication aimed squarely at creative professionals—and has been its editor-in-chief ever since. Here, we talk to him about how the magazine, which just turned 20, and Thailand’s design industry, has evolved.
My magazine has changed a lot in 20 years. We thought up the original idea in an S&P cafe, just me and a couple of friends who wanted to pull off the kind of magazine that didn’t exist in Thailand. It was like drafting a constitution: celebrate young designers and respect the masters.
 
Our first issue came out in March 1995, two years before the economic crisis hit. It had a mad, youthful energy, much inspired by David Carson’s grungy graphic style.
 
Now it’s directed specifically at designers working in Thailand. We want to inspire those who are responsible for changing the dynamic of Bangkok.
 
Before Thailand’s economic crisis in 1997, there was so much advertising budget for the media. I heard one story of a buyer being fired for not using his whole budget.
 
Thailand Architect Expo is one of the most extravagant exhibitions in Thailand. What began as a small get-together of people in the profession has turned into a massive trade fair and exhibition. I’m pleased to see that this year they tried to bring back the original spirit.
 
When you have too much money, it’s easy to lose your spirit as an artist.
 
I may run an art magazine and feature a whole lot of futuristic architecture and designers in the international spotlight, but I personally appreciate the subtle beauty in the work of local artists—people who know their craft and have signature touches to their work.
 
I was supposed to study an MBA at New York Institute of Technology, but I spent most of my time outside. I left my textbooks untouched and rarely stepped foot in the library. Instead, I browsed the theaters, art galleries and old record stores.
 
I loved rock ’n’ roll music. I hung out in one record store so often that people mistook me for a shop clerk.
 
In New York, I got to know Thais who later thrived in their professions : Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and a bunch of guys who founded their own movie production company—GTH.
 
My resource has always been the people. There was no internet back when we started, so most of the information about new urban development and design came from people in the art profession who knew me. I’m lucky to be surrounded by inspiring people, both domestically and internationally.
 
I try to accept everything as it comes. New forms of architecture may not follow established standards of beauty, but you mustn’t reject new thoughts and crazy ideas.
 
I’m a listener. When I meet someone who can potentially enhance my knowledge, I listen. People admire me for it. My job is to interpret what I’ve heard into great ideas for the magazine.