You’ve probably seen the bold red letters, graffitied on a wall, stenciled on a T-shirt, spread across someone’s Instagram: “I Wanna Bangkok.” What’s it mean? We asked the duo behind the project. Adisak “Beam” Jirasakkasem, 26, is a fashion design grad from Accademia Italiana Bangkok and a former design assistant for Greyhound Original. Beam began the project in 2014 with Supakorn “Grofe” Buaruan, 23, a Fashion Design graduate from Srinakharinwirot University
How did you come up with this idea?
At a party in Berlin, a woman, probably high, asked me where I was from. I said “Bangkok” and she joked, “I wanna Bang-cock” and the phrase stuck with me. I wanted something like the I <3 NY project.
What exactly does I Wanna Bangkok do?
Our goal is to find a new way to promote Bangkok, instead of the usual hook of temples or tuk tuks. We work with teenagers of unique character and use contemporary art by new, young artists to give Thailand a modern face. “I Wanna Bangkok” is a brand, and the more well-known it becomes, the more people will see the city differently. Our audience is foreigners and Thai teenagers.
Do you think people understand what you do?
Not right away. That’s not a problem because we are at an experimental phase and we are open for new collaborations. We don’t limit our creativity. As long as people are curious about what we are, they will find out what we do.
Do you feel your freedom of expression is limited?
Outside of politics—which we will not touch because I want only positive vibes—I think we have a lot of freedom in art. One image was banned on Instagram. I got a very confident, younger girl friend to take a shirtless photo wearing a helmet. Instagram deleted it. I tried the same photo with a male model and it didn’t get taken down. It’s 2017, we should have gender equality already.
Why focus on children of the ‘90s?
Because we are the future. We express ourselves freely. We have our own philosophy, and it just feels so fresh to have new-faced kids in our Instagram videos.
How do you choose someone to be on your Instagram?
Style. They have to have their own character and represent it well. I want people to be able to look into their lives. Our Instagram is like a catalogue to showcase the diversity of Bangkok teenagers. I want to remind the younger generation that they have a choice, and can be anyone they want to be.
What does the future look like for I Wanna Bangkok? What other projects have you got in mind?
For 2017, we’ve just released planner notebooks for 2018 in collaboration with a local graphic designer we found on Instagram, Tanawat “Benz” Sakdawisarak [IG: bloodyhellbighead]. What we’ve done is small compared to the plans that I have. This is just the beginning.