Writer : Editor Team
When international designer Tom Dixon was younger, he spent most of his time playing music, riding his motorbike, and just wasting his time like other ฺBritish rebellious youngsters in the 80s did. But when he decided he would take designing seriously, he started trying. Without any design knowledge, he began to seek it by himself, learning by doing, and today Tom Dixon is one of the most successful designers of the world, both in terms of business and design.
Being rebellious (or grey-ray in Thai) is considered one of the qualities of successful designers. They need to dare to think out of the box, to take risks and do what they have never done before. This concept is the foundation of Grey Ray, a small stationery brand founded three years ago by Charnchalad Kanchanawong, owner of Art House art school.
The first product was actually born as a solution to one of the problems he needed to encounter as an art tutor for high school students. “We saw that our students used very sharp pencils and they had no storage for that. Some students put them in straws, while others had to carry metal pencil boxes. The EE Defender Pencil Cap was a simple solution. This plastic cap helps protecting the pencil’s sharp tip and preventing stains. When we launched it, the feedback was quite overwhelming. Some students asked why would it take for so long to create this,” said a designer.
Experiences are important, but they are not the most important things. Daring to do different things is. Grey Ray started off as an amature brand without any business experience. They made the prototypes of the pencil caps by themselves, despite of the high production costs. They decided to look long-term. With mass production, the production costs per unit are cheaper. And while most design products were pricey, Gray Ray chose to create simple yet unexpected design products with affordable prices. That is why they have no apparent competitors in the same segment.
Grey Ray is one of few design brands that became successful in a short period of time. The brand’s products have received many awards, from DEmark Award, Gmark Award from Japan, and OKMD’s Thai Creative Award.
However, before the success were endless tryouts, since they knew nothing about marketing. “Every time we talked about marketing and sales, we would imagine that if we were customers, we would buy it or not,” a designer explained. Every process from designing, production, and marketing are planned and executed by the in-house team. They started off by presenting their products in stationery stores and department stores. Some were interested, many didn’t get back.
Then there was the turning point when the brand received a series of design awards. “At the beginning, everything was difficult, especially with department stores. After we got the awards, everything was a lot easier. For example, we had talked with Loft for a long time. When we got the awards, we could go in right away. We even got the prime space at the front.” The designers said that the awards they got were the doors to countless opportunities. Grey Ray also constantly participates in the activities of DITP, so they were selected to one of the Talent Thai designers and received the DEmark Award in 2013.