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Eating or drinking is an activity that foodies and drinkers schedule into their life to explore new restaurants that are delicious and prepared with care and attention to cater for a substantial dish. Being one of those people, Him -Kijtanes Kajornrattanadech of Taste Space now plays the role of designer of the eating and drinking culture through the use of interior design as a tool to enhance the dining experience for better taste and to elevate the important meals to be even more special.
Today we visit Taste Space Studio in Sathorn before speaking with Khun Him about the entire story. Why is it necessary to eat and drink? How does interior design contribute to the experience? What is the significance of store design? and appended with the challenge of renovating the commercial project design.
Eating and drinking is another field of design work.
Starting with a brief introduction, we learned that Khun Him graduated from Rangsit University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design before travelling to England to pursue a master’s degree in the same profession. However, when he returned to Thailand, he had the opportunity to work in restaurant design for 6-7 years, which sparked his interest in Hospitality projects with a distinct focus on eating and drinking such as Bar, Café, and Restaurant.
But why is it eating and drinking? we wonder.
“I consider eating and drinking to be another design component. There are types of expertise, such as a Barista, Chef or Mixologist. Everyone has a character that influences their food and beverage preferences. What could I do with the components to make a unique experience? I should be able to come up with something fun on my own because I enjoy eating and drinking.”
According to Khun Him, another important reason besides design helps to innovate is that the design will assist the owner in increasing sales. The designer will step in to create a balance for both sides. “Some complications arise from designers’ desire to design, to show-off. Is it, however, assisting his store’s sales? We are now attempting to make it as excellent as possible. Our objective is to produce beauty while also taking into account the customer’s function in order to make the sale and their usage as smooth as feasible.”
From Industrial design to Interior space design
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial design, Khun Him told us that “when I had the opportunity to work on a restaurant project in the early days, the skill that came from an industrial design that I used was Proportion Scale or the ergonomics used in restaurants. For example, when placing a chair in a restaurant, we must consider whether it will be comfortable to sit? How are you seated? Because what we have been told, such as that we have to use a 75 cm high table and a 45 cm chair, can actually be adjusted accordingly. For example, Japan has a big bowl of ramen while the Japanese people have a relatively small body. The size of these tables and chairs has to change according to the usage. Have you ever had to go to some restaurants and feel that the chair is not comfortable to sit and eat? It’s a minor detail that has an impact on the whole experience.”
When Khun Him realized what he had learned, he applied industrial design to the restaurant design to improve the functionality of the restaurant design that he was working on at the time. When working on projects on a continual basis, work and experience eventually cultivate an understanding of space and interior design.
How to think and work the Taste Space way
“I watched the Jiro Dream of Sushi documentary on NETFLIX. He stated that if you’ve never eaten delicious food, how can you make it for others to eat? This holds true for me as well. Hence, if I am unfamiliar with different sorts of food, I will take the team members out to eat to learn more. What’s the distinction between Thai cuisine and Royal Thai cuisine? What is the cuisine of each country? Or what is a chef table? You must understand this before you can design one.
Personally, I am already a history buff. So, it’s even more enjoyable to search for in-depth information. The more you know the story behind it, the more fun it is. For example, how many types of rice are there in Thailand? How many species are there? Every time I start a new project, I try not to employ the same old approaches. I am constantly researching to develop our techniques or theories.”
Of course, the process of thinking and working on each project is unique as the challenge and starting point are different. However, Taste Space usually begins by determining who the customer is before learning about the food and products that the owner wishes to sell. The food must be the most outstanding while complimenting with the design of the shop.
“One is the type of food. The second point to consider is what customers desire to happen. Third, does the experience I would like to add correspond to the owner’s function? And then the team will decide on the direction in which we can draw or create a story. It’s all about the storytelling that we put in place to help this business succeed. We will start with details, examine what this restaurant sells and then take a step back and assess the overall picture and determine what elements could be involved. Then we gradually meet halfway. This is our way of working.”
Design of restaurants, bars, cafes and renovations.
Another example of the Taste Space Studio’s work is the renovation of Tai Soon Bar and the casual fine dining restaurant, Mother BKK. As soon as they are open to the public, those restaurants catch the attention of foodies all over Thailand. So we took the opportunity to ask Khun Him his thoughts on renovating a commercial project in the restaurant and bar area. We wonder, from the designer’s perspective, what is the difficulty and is there anything that needs special attention?
“In my opinion, renovation work is challenging since I sometimes have no idea what that place was like in the past. Most of the renovation work takes place in a location that was never intended to be used as a restaurant or business area. It means that everything in the system’s work, including sewage, load systems, structure, and even electricity, becomes a challenge for me to handle. What’s more, there’s a story behind those spaces. Is it possible to incorporate it into the new design I’d like to present? If that is not possible, I must admit that during the renovation, I will have to adapt to make it more beneficial to the challenges.”
When it comes to renovation work, there will be a process of analyzing the area before the other methods mentioned above. Khun Him stressed the importance of being thorough from the outset before reconstructing the area. The rest will go into analyzing what functions should be used, which types of restaurants will best suit the space, what the traffic is, and whether it is suitable for use.
“The majority of the renovation projects we encountered were in old buildings with limited space. During the design process, I must examine the building’s structure to ensure that it can withstand the weight. I have to alternate between the current design and its history. It will be more enjoyable if it is an old building with a story to tell. It is challenging to bring that back to life while perfectly incorporating the owner’s story. Limitations challenge me to consider alternative solutions. This, in my opinion, is the beauty of renovations.”
MotherBkk, a Casual fine dining restaurant inspired by ‘The Origin of All Things on Earth,’ which was converted from an old shophouse. With many parts of the old building had deteriorated, the designer decided to keep the shape and form by replacing the entire interior space, dismantling the old floor, and installing a whole new system for the entire building, starting with a steel frame and a wood stamped concrete casting, with only the walls on the side of the stairs remaining in their original condition.
Due to the deterioration of the wooden floor on the second level, Khun Him designed part of the floor to be removed, resulting in Double Space. The floor in front of the 2nd level was shortened to create a mezzanine. As a result, customers on the 2nd floor may sense the ambience, movement, or sound of the ground floor (read the full MotherBkk article at https://bit.ly/3IkUt0K).
Tai Soon Bar, a craft beer bar renovated from a 100-year-old building where Khun Him intends to breathe new life into the old building by opening up spaces for the building. They are arranged in an L shape, making each layer visible to the other. He then adds a Chinese vibe in keeping with the owner’s story and the old building. Some of the walls that are able to retain the originals were all preserved by simply peeling off the paint, cleaning, and covering. The beer storage room in the back is an area that needs to be expanded. He uses the pseudo-wall while finding a skilled craftsman to replicate the old wall, knocking it out for the most authentic look possible.
“For renovations, we think that conservation should be allowed. That is, instead of just reserving and doing nothing, sometimes conservation needs to be improved in order to survive and thrive. Another important thing is that the owners have to recognize the value because renovating these old buildings is costly. How am I going to maintain the original values while improving the building?” Khun Him concluded.