Creative Thailand

Korakot Aromdee transforms local crafts into global art works

This cheerful artist is supremely talented and gifted at turning traditional handicrafts into mesmerizing art pieces with unique, delicate details that leave an impression well into the international level.


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Korakot was born in a fisherman’s village in Ban Laem in Phetchaburi province.  His family has worked as fishermen since his grandfather’s generation until present day. Since a young age, Korakot has been brought up by his grandfather to fix his fishing equipment by himself, as well as to tie up his own kites to play during the holidays. This has made him absorb his grandfather’s knowledge of tying techniques and ancient Chinese bamboo tying techniques automatically. Once mixed with traditional handicrafts, these things have become an inspiration for him to take interest in art and to study painting at Burapha University in Chonburi. After that, he took his master’s degree studying Applied Art Studies at the Faculty of Decorative Arts at Silpakorn University.


Korakot then went through a turbulent phase working in product design and dealing with production problems which required specialization. Although discouraged at times because of time management, having to prepare uncommon materials and to deliver all orders on time, his management style which looked back to simplicity and understanding human nature has become his stepping stone to his success today.


“My work is not the kind that can be produced by industrial systems because it is handicraft work of many scales that are combined together. There is a variety of materials, which requires time and expertise from craftsmen. At first, we couldn’t produce our orders on time and wondered what to do. It lead to the solution to depend on local hands. We trained villagers and young men and women to help with our work. It wasn’t hard because everyone’s main profession is to make fish and to dry them, so they already have a background in fishing and are used to creating items for daily life. Since it’s work related to bamboo, it was easy for them to understand and learn quickly.


Teaching these techniques is like awakening the instincts that they already have. Handiwork such as tying and knotting are done by women because it is delicate work that requires focus, patience and high concentration. The male labour force are actually the boyfriends of these women that we get to help us out. This includes climbing up signs, installing things and outdoor work. Doing all this helps families and communities. It strengthens the folk households and lessens problems of drugs and the like.”


“I persuade the team to work for hope, for their future and their families. We all need to endure and work as a team to fill in the gaps and to share their ideas on experiences on previous problems in order to move ahead towards our goal together.”


Materials are very crucial because bamboo pieces are made from natural materials which cannot be produced industrially. Korakot keeps his grandfather’s teachings close to heart in order to source materials locally by looking for characteristics that are specific to certain communities at river basins in Phetchaburi, be it Ta Yang, Nong Ya Plong or Ban Lad. In the case of Ban Lad, villagers work mainly in agriculture and stand out for their wicker baskets. Korakot hired this group to sharpen his bamboo to using their traditional techniques so it will be 1.5 meters long (and can fit perfectly onto pick-up trucks). At Khao Yoi, villagers are experts at making baskets, which involves working with flat wood. But at their rate of making 10 per day at 30 baht apiece, villagers cannot make enough money, even more so with competition from plastic baskets. This profession slowly faded away but Korakot sought out these flat wood workers and asked them to help by delivering bamboo to them to be sharpened. Currently, these villagers no longer need to work in construction and can work with what they are specialized at in their own homes.


Korakot stresses for to everyone on his teams to keep their time while working, because the most important thing about taking orders is to manage time. Distinctive work that is created from local knowledge is sure to look strange and would be of interest to foreigners, as well as general customers. Being on time is a factor that can ensure success, yet Korakot also tries to explain to customers that handiwork is work that causes body weariness and cannot be rushed, so it is wise to leave some spare time in case.   


After going through trial and error countless times business-wise, Korakot discovers that the best way to control his costs is to let the customer pay in 3 installments. The first payment is for the initial structure, the second for complete installation and the last for follow-up details. This helps both the customer and workers, as the cost for the suppliers can be calculated and there is a daily pay for all workers. Everyone can improve themselves and change their life with their knowledge or expertise, causing encouragement to keep working and enough rest for the team.


Besides creating decoration pieces for hotels and buildings both within and outside Thailand, there are also many other occasions where his designs are used to decorate Central Mahachai, Siam Paragon and various ministries. Another outstanding work that Korakot considers to be his main profile is The Buffalo Amphawa, which is a medium-sized resort. For this account, Korakot was involved in many facets which overlooks the overall usage of space, be it interior design, engineering, environmental concerns and work related to the law of the Harbour Department. 


Besides Korakot’s success in his profession and talent in application of traditional techniques, there is no denying of his relationships with his production teams. On top of being a designer, he must also manage on an understanding of human nature, of people working in handicraft, of everchanging work dimensions, as well as the very communities and societies the work force comes from.

Creative Thailand
Creative Thailand
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