Not many objects get a chance at a second life. Once they do, its properties go beyond their original functions. IKEA's newest 'Collaboration Projects 2020' sees the Swedish furniture giant working with Greyhound Original Bangkok to employ recycling, reusing, and creative re-purposing processes on everyday objects. Also, this collaboration marks IKEA's first partnership with a Southeast-Asian brand.
Designed to be multifunctional and affordable, the limited SAMMANKOPPLA collection is perfect for small city spaces and homes. Of course, there are visible elements of Bangkok street-style too, thanks to Greyhound Original's modernistic cultural aesthetic.
Highlights of this SAMMANKOPPLA collection includes bold patterns inspired by Bangkok’s urban landscape and Greyhound’s graphic fashion sensibilities. For example, the houndstooth design of a SAMMANKOPPLA bag is frequently found in traditional Thai weaving.
Sustainable-chic best describes the SAMMANKOPPLA LED multi-use lighting repurposed from old plastic bottles. In addition, the SAMMANKOPPLA sweatshirt chair cover warms up the seat for you with its oversized fit.
We spoke to Bhanu Inkawa, executive creative director of Greyhound Original on venturing into furniture design from fashion and F&B and his favourite SAMMANKOPPLA product.
Interview with Executive Creative Director of Greyhound Original Bangkok, Bhanu Inkawa
ESQ: How did IKEA approach Greyhound Original on this collaboration and is there a brief or an angle to focus before designing the products? Tell us more about the conceptualising process.
Bhanu Inkawa: Three years ago, we received a mail from IKEA inviting us to join this collaboration project. But we didn't reply because we think it's a fraud mail as it sounds too good. A brand like IKEA to contact Greyhound.
IKEA wanted to introduce a fun project that adds spices to the main collection. I asked them why a designer from Thailand and specifically, Greyhound? They replied Thailand is a destination that people love to travel for a holiday. It's a fun place for relaxation and to have a good time.
If a product is created from Thailand, it'll be interesting for people around the world to buy. As for Greyhound, it is because Michael Nikolic, Creative Leader at IKEA, had been following our work for many years and thinks our work is similar to IKEA, in the sense that it's minimal, style with creative touch in everything we do. So, he thought that maybe it's a good thing that we work together. So that's how it came about.
ESQ: Greyhound Original started with fashion and expanded into F&B. But did the brand experiment with designing lifestyle products previously before this collection?
Bhanu Inkawa: We haven't actually worked on furniture for sale. But we have been working on furniture for ourselves, like the shop we designed and the visual merchandising for our fashion stores as well.
In a way, we are familiar with the structure, construction of loose furniture. But we haven't actually designed specifically a furniture series itself. It's quite different from designing fashion and conceptualising food. If you look in it from the style point of view, Greyhound is all about basic with a twist. We love basic and simple things in life. But we believe that basic and simple things don't have to be boring. So we start adding creativities and add to everything we do.
That's when we think that will help make your day more enjoyable, fun, stylish and add style to your everyday life. How do we bring greyhound style together with Thai essence into this collection and introduce this to the world? That is a big challenge for us.
ESQ: We can see a strong Thai heritage and identity in the design, but it's still fresh. Like a current take on Thai style. So how do you combine the contemporary and modernity with Thai heritage?
Bhanu Inkawa: Greyhound is all about being basic but with a twist. We don't want to do things typically, the way that people expect to it. If you look at talk about Thai style, it has to be a certain design, certain way, certain manner, certain language. But with Greyhound, we love to twist and modernising into something that suitable for everyday life to a contemporary lifestyle.
And that's why with this collection, instead of looking around the traditional Thai way of living, we look at the street style of living which the new generation loves. Why don't we look around and pick things around us and use them to inspire us? For example, this scaffolding table. The design comes from the scaffold system, which makes this table easy to move around in small space living.
Floor living is something very Asian actually. But to the Western world, it's foreign. So how do we introduce that to them to try, especially in a small space living? With floor living, you eat, work, watch TV, and sleep in the same space. It's so flexible. So that's the idea behind the task of addressing the small living for the urban living today.
ESQ: What is your favourite product from this collection?
Bhanu Inkawa: It's definitely the chair sweater. This piece came with the idea of people leaving a jacket or a coat over the back of the chair. Our team was thinking why don't we do clothing for chair and interpret it like the way street style in Thailand which anything goes.
If you walk down the streets of Thailand, you'll see broken chairs need support to hold it up as its fourth leg. So why not a sweater for a chair?
But this sweater was difficult to make because we sell it as a sweater that's supposed to fit most chairs. We have to create a pattern that's different from a typical clothing pattern.
To make a pattern that fits most of the chairs is a challenge. You can open the zipper on the side and just slip it on. Also, the sweater has different pockets that you can put your gadgets on. From mobile phones to technological devices like an iPad or whatever you're using to work on in your small apartment, for example.
That would be my most memorable piece from the collection because there are so many prototypes before developing this piece at the end.
ESQ: What does sustainability and being eco-friendly means to Greyhound?
Bhanu Inkawa: Part of the collection is inspired by the wisdom of Thai people which not just Thai from the physical outlook only. But the wisdom of Thai people who don't like to throw things away. They want to remake it or repurpose it into something else. For example, the idea of this lamp came from old plastic containers and putting a light bulb in it. Vendors who do business on the street use it as their lighting.
Also on top of that, most of the material that we use are either recyclables. Like the stuffing that we put inside the SAMMANKOPPLA triangular cushion came from farmers who obtain cotton by using less fertiliser and water.
That's the determination of the IKEA team who source such production lines in order for them to complete this whole collection.