Bringing a fresh spin to Bangkok’s cluttered furniture scene, Veekrit Palarit, or Ong, and his team at Norse Republics focus on Scandinavian brands. No stranger to the design world, he graduated from Thammasat University’s international programme with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and joined the family business, an importer and exporter of raw materials, specifically wood. This allowed him to work alongside his father and brought Veekrit to the realisation that going into design was what he really wanted. “My role began to change to focus on design aspects such as website and brand creation because it was something that I found really enjoyable. I actually enjoyed it so much I quit to go and further my design studies,” he says.
After gaining approval from his father, Sompong, Veekrit chose to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in Milan, this time majoring in furniture design. With this newfound knowledge he returned to Thailand and quickly realised that there was a gap in the furniture market. “I noticed a lack of high quality Scandinavian furniture in Bangkok, despite there being such a wide range of famous Scandinavian brands sold worldwide. Hence in 2015, I established Norse Republics as an importer, secured the Hay furniture brand and set up our first shop at Siam Discovery,” he explains. The outlet did well, boosted by growing demand tied to the buoyant property market and because more and more people were tuning in to Scandinavian design aesthetics. “I could see that particularly the younger generation of home buyers appreciated the furniture and so we are adding the Fritz Hansen brand to bolster our diversity.”
To Veekrit’s mind, what has made him stand out is that the brands he deals with see his passion for their furniture and so “these companies trust me to represent them as their managing director in Thailand. It’s a role I take very seriously, to the point where I oversee everything from sales to customer service and visual merchandise,” says the 33-year-old of his hands-on style of management. When it comes to work challenges Veekrit says that they “tend to be about people not the furniture. It is a challenge to find people who share your passion. I have to communicate my ideas to them so that they can help me expand my vision. That said, I love all aspects of my job, everything from importing to data work, I enjoy doing it all.”
So does he have any other passions? “When I was younger I only wanted to be a businessman like my father, who has been very successful, and although the world of furniture is where his heart truly belongs I do switch off by reading, watching movies and playing the occasional game of tennis. The really significant recent changes in my life were marrying my wife Jongkol [fashion editor at Vogue Thailand] and the birth of our son, who is almost two now. Whereas I used to work on weekends, now they are devoted to spending time with my family. It’s good to switch off and enjoy each other’s company.”
Looking to the future Veekrit would like to expand his brand portfolio further but with discretion. “I want our customers to have access to quality furniture that is new to Thailand. We are in the process of opening another outlet in Soi Somkid, but we don’t want to become some sort of furniture supermarket for multi-brands because then our taste and character would be lost. A considered selection of exclusive lines is what we are aiming for—then in 10 years time I can see myself taking a step back and not being so hands on, although I will definitely remain in the business as a director,” he says.
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