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Team Reflection and Visioning Retreat @ Chiang Mai Design Week 2022

Chiang Mai Design Week (CMDW) is an annual event that takes place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, showcasing the work of designers and artists from Thailand and beyond. The event typically lasts for a week and is a celebration of design, creativity, and innovation.


From her previous trips, Trecia enjoyed the local design and craftmanship and thus recommended CMDW as one of the pit stops of our annual work retreat.


Old Phone booth with an event poster

Chiang Mai Design Week 2022 Poster pin up


What Happens During the Chiang Mai Design Week?


The Chiang Mai Design Week (CMDW) typically has a variety of engaging activities that take place over the week, such as exhibitions, workshops, talks and seminars, multisensorial installations, and pop-up shops.


Here is a brief summary of what you can expect from the various activities on site:


Exhibitions

The event features a wide range of exhibitions that showcase the work of designers and artists from Thailand and around the world. These exhibitions cover a wide range of design disciplines, including fashion, graphic design, product design, and architecture.


Architecture exhibition showcase


Workshops

Chiang Mai Design Week also features a variety of workshops that provide opportunities for visitors to learn new design skills and techniques. These workshops are led by experts in their fields and are a great way to get hands-on experience in different areas of design.


Talks and Seminars

Designers, artists, and experts from different fields come together during the event to share their knowledge and insights with visitors through talks and seminars. These talks cover a range of topics related to design, creativity, and innovation.


Installations

The event also features a variety of installations that use design to create unique and memorable experiences for visitors. These installations often use light, sound, and other sensory elements to create immersive environments that engage the audience.


Bamboo installation at night

Installation showcasing various bamboo weaving art pieces by local artisans


POP Market

Visitors can also shop for unique and innovative craft products at the pop-up shops set up during the event. These shops offer a wide range of products, including fashion, accessories, and home decor items, along with local food and local music playing in the background


Crafts on display


Overall, Chiang Mai Design Week 2022 was an awesome, inspiring, and social experience which brought together designers, artists, and enthusiasts from around the world.


We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and were reminded time and again about the power of design and how design can be implemented virtuously to create positive social change to leave a lasting positive impact on the lives of local communities and their economies


Our Takeaways From CMDW 2022

Six humans posing for photo in front of a colonial architecture, sitting on rainbow-coloured seats made of night-market bags

Team and friends


Trecia: Intersections between traditional techniques and contemporary design can create new opportunities and possibilities for the future


It's been my 3rd year coming back to the annual CMDW and every year is an enriching journey. To experience design at the crossroads of traditions and modernity interpretations, is very much what emerging architectural design with the regional communities is about. An energising week not to be missed.


Lady in white in the middle of a walkway with two rows of shops alongside

Browsing through shops at Baan Kang Wat Village


Qi Wei: Design can create meaningful and memorable experiences


The exhibitions and markets are well spaced out and there are shuttle buses catered for visitors who may not have the luxury of time to walk and explore.


three man posing with small bamboo baskets

Basket weaving workshop with local artisan


I enjoyed the bamboo basket weaving workshop the most, where I got to learn from a local artisan at San Kamphaeng how to weave a small basket. Makes me appreciate every local handmade product a lot more.


Jocelyn: Clever designs by thoughtful craftsmen can promote local cultural understanding and awareness


Coconut fibre, orchid stem, coffee grounds etc. - these are but some of the many natural extracts that have been cleverly used by the Thais to innovate and create everyday products such as shoes, paper, coasters etc.

Natural extracts used by locals to design a variety of everyday products


I love how CMDW is a showcase of thoughtful craftsmen that appreciates and use what the earth has to offer, a reminder that we ought to be more mindful and purposeful when we create, and a celebration of cultures and people.


lady in blue on the left of herb garden with pink, green and blue lanterns above. Surrounded by yellow tentages

Observing one of the edible gardens onsite


Wen Wei: Design from the local Thai community who come from all walks of life is worth celebrating

Chiang Mai Design Week didn’t feel just like a design week, but a local Thai Festival. Although still targeting up-market visitors and buyers, it was nice that the exhibitors and sellers came from a wide range of backgrounds, i.e. professionals, students, typical shop owners, and hawkers.



back view of man wearing white shirt strolling through bamboo exhibit

Observing bamboo installation by BAM FEST


The displays and storefronts range from highly researched and curated pieces to more natural and ad hoc set ups. The festival not only celebrates designs that are produced by those who can afford or are formally trained in it, but also designs made by the various demographics that appear in many forms across Thailand.


Moving Forward…


We’re definitely looking forward to coming back to Chiang Mai Design Week 2023 if our schedule for the new work year permits and could even return to the event as speakers to share our knowledge and insights with visitors through talks and seminars on the following:


• The potential of design to address social issues and promote social change

• The impact of design on local communities and economies

• The role of design in creating sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions


After all, WeCreate Studio is an architecture firm for social good.


It would be an honour to play our part in inspiring fellow designers to apply their fusion of traditional and modern design towards developing community-driven and people-centred solutions that empower and benefit communities over the long term.


The stories of various building materials and architectural structures on display


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