Up Close: Meet 5 Thailand Honourees On This Year's Gen.T List
The highly anticipated Asia Tatler Generation T 2019 list is out. Now in its fourth iteration, and for the first time in a combined volume, it recognises 400 game-changers under the age of 40 drawn from eight countries across the region. Grouped by industry—some 19 in all, ranging from architecture and design to sports and technology—these leaders of tomorrow are at the core of the region’s phenomenal economic and social growth. As a snapshot of the 50 dynamic go-getters from Thailand who made the Gen.T class of 2019, Thailand Tatler chats to five of the Thai honourees to find out what is driving them to make an impact for the common good in their respective fields.
Akapol Sudasna | Co-Founder, Bangkok CityCity Gallery
Two-time Gen.T honouree Akapol Sudasna has been making waves in Thailand’s contemporary art scene ever since opening Bangkok CityCity Gallery with Supamas Phahulo in late 2015. Located in Sathorn, Bangkok CityCity is part commercial gallery and part multi-disciplinary creative space for projects and installations. “I wanted to share the work and visions of the artists I admire with a wider audience. Since we opened I have seen a gradual change with more and more people showing an interest in contemporary art in general and contemporary Thai art in particular,” Akapol says. Not one to stand still, he has further plans for the gallery and at time of writing was in the midst of preparations to launch a bookshop. “It will stock publications produced by the gallery as well as books selected by our peers. There will be a small library section as well,” he explains. With his background in filmmaking and advertising, he is bringing a fresh approach to contemporary Thai art.
Dominic Puwasawat Chakrabongse | Director, Precious Plastic Bangkok
Dominic is very much a child of the ocean who enjoys scuba diving and has experienced first hand the damaging effects of plastic pollution at sea. Determined to fight the scourge, he established the Bangkok arm of Precious Plastic, a global community recycling project that enables waste to be shredded, melted, remoulded and repurposed using a set of plastic recycling machines. The machine blueprints are available to anyone via the preciousplastic.com website. “I’ve followed Precious Plastic from its beginnings in 2013 when Dave Hakkens came up with the recycling machine. I thought it was a particularly good solution for Thailand. We have a community of creative people—metal workers, carpenters, artists and designers—all with the building blocks we need to construct workshops for recycling plastics. I wanted to tap into that and build the machines to put in communities so they can then recycle plastics on their own terms and come up with their own products. It is a great way to clean the environment and create downstream wealth in the process.” Those interested in becoming a volunteer or joining the plastic drop-off network can visit fb.com/preciousplasticbkk for more information.
Kamonnart Ongwandee | Fashion & Textile Designer
For creative consultant Kamonnart Ongwandee, fashion and textile design go well beyond visual aesthetics. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London with a master’s degree in printed textiles, she says she wasn’t interested in becoming a designer who focused only on cut, line and colour. “The provenance of fabrics and textiles is important to me. I want to promote the use of ethically-made materials, textiles that incorporate artisanal skills. I’m also keen to promote awareness of waste and pollution in the fashion industry.” She does this through her consultancies with organisations such as MoreLoop Thailand, a facilitator for the use of ‘deadstock’ or waste fabric that connects factories with buyers for that waste, and Fashion Revolution Thailand, which seeks to ‘radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that the clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way’. Believing in creating a circular fashion economy, Kamonnart is also engaging larger organisations such as energy giant PTTEP on the development of new forms of eco-friendly synthetic textiles.
Pahrada Sapprasert | Director, 500 TukTuks
Not long after graduating with a master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship, Pahrada Sapprasert had a conversation with 2017 Generation T honouree Natavudh Pungcharoenpong of digital magazine platform and e-book store Ookbee. “During our chat we realised that we both had a similar vision in terms of doing business and so he asked me if I would join his project to bring 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley early stage venture fund and seed accelerator, to Thailand. I’d always wanted a company of my own, but while talking to Natavudh it hit me that it would be equally satisfying to help others bring their innovative business ideas to fruition.” In early 2015, 500 TukTuks came into being as a US$15M micro-fund. Pahrada’s role is to find and nurture entrepreneurs and help them create successful companies to scale. “TukTuks are small, lean, agile and fast, exactly the type of exciting start-up business we want to support. Our aim is to add as many entrepreneurial Thai ventures to the 2,000 plus already invested in by 500 Startups around the globe.”
Virot Chiraphadhanakul | Founder & Managing Director, Skooldio
Former Facebook data scientist Virot Chiraphadhanakul is on a mission to make education more accessible and focused in Thailand. To that end the MIT graduate founded Skooldio, a learning platform that aims to help people and businesses acquire new technical skills that will unlock their potential. “From programming and data science mining to conceptual design and digital business applications, we offer workshops that help individuals keep pace with the technological changes that are taking place within every industry,” the scion of the Lactasoy drink family explains. “Thais have become much more savvy about the acceleration of technology on many levels, particularly the increase in digital touchpoints that are created to collect data that can be used to make more intelligent business decisions. Organisations and companies are also starting to become aware of how they can virtualise the customer experience,” says Virot. He earns his place among the talented Thai contingent of the 2019 Asia Tatler Gen.T firmament for giving everyone a shot at self-improvement.
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