Five minutes with Design Consultant K.Tum Siwaraya on the challenges and struggles of working in the design market in Thailand.
When it comes to design in Thailand, K.Tum Siwaraya has seen it all. As a girl growing up in States, Tum was always fascinated with design at a time where there was no web design in Bangkok. The decision to study graphics may seem odd, after all, who could foresee the future of web design in the coming years? Fast forward 15 years and K.Tum Siwaraya has become one of the leading design consultants in Bangkok for consumer products.
Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself?
I was born in the U.S.A and my family moved back to Thailand after my dad finished his Ph.D. I went back to the States after I finished my Undergraduate Degree to study for my Masters to work there for a short while. After a few years, I moved back home and it’s been about ten years now.
How did you get into the creative industry?
I studied Visual Communication Design which consisted of graphic design, advertising and illustration. Later on, in 1998, I was interested in technology during a time before there any web design or even websites existed in Bangkok. So I decided to start a technology based course in Bangkok but soon realised I preferred hands-on tasks. Soon I switched schools to learn more about graphics about video arts.
How would you describe yourself?
For work, detail-oriented and a perfectionist.
What are you up to at the moment?
I supervise and work with different the marketing teams. People who usually come from a marketing background don’t really have a design background so they are very focused on strategies and numbers. My expertise is to guide them and gear them in a creative visual way.
Were there any struggles in the beginning?
Working for the marketing department of corporate companies with an art background was a challenge at the start. Everyone is focused on the competitors marketing strategy so our mind-set is different.It was difficult to get colleagues to trust my advice and judgment on changes.
At the start, each brand would have an individual looking after it – everything was scattered and nothing was coherence. However, I have a realistic approach, to try to be in the consumer’s shoes and design what appeals to them. Nowadays, they are smarter and there’s a lot of choices on the market. You have the choice between making something to simply look good or a high-quality product with lower price point. These are some big obstacles I have to overcome.
What would you like to accomplish in this role?
I’ve come a long way from day one up until now and I’m proud of everything I have done.
How do you see the design market in Thailand these days?
It’s improved since I was younger as there are a lot more choices in design market now. However, sometimes it’s difficult to be creative because clients are still the clients at the end of the day. They’ll hire you but they may not want to listen to you. However, I don’t think the problem is in Thailand as it happens everywhere in the world.
How do you foresee the younger generation of designers?
I come from the generation where we used computer to do layout. We didn’t have typography and lettering on the internet where you can download. The internet provides everything which is very nice but sometimes the young generation of designer take this for granted. They don’t know that they have everything that’s easy for them.
Do you have any philosophy of your own?
I believe in karma. Whatever you do, good or bad it comes back to you. That’s why I love helping people for work. Regardless of the budget, I still do everything for my client perfectly.
Why do you choose to work at the Hive?
The location is perfect, it’s near my favourite restaurant and all my hangout spaces.