Research & Report

“Pakk Taii Design Week 2023” blossoming into the future of creative city for the people, city and culture

Let’s decode the success of Pakk Taii Design Week 2023, organized by Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization) or CEA during 12-20 August 2023, in three main areas of Songkhla province in southern Thailand: Songkhla Old Town, Laem Son Pier in the Hua Khao community, and Hat Yai district and Kim Yong Market, with other activities being held in parallel at Tabtieng neighborhood in Trang and the Arom-Dee district in Pattani. Over 206 creators, designers, city developers, business operators, and communities joined the festival with support from more than 69 establishments and individuals. There were some 112 programs and activities, including entertainment, performing arts, music, installation arts, light displays, talks, workshops, and events such as film screenings and experimental showcases. Throughout the nine-day period of the festival, CEA recorded 100,791 visitors, and Pakk Taii Design Week generated more than 165 million baht in economic value within the festival areas and surrounding communities. Additionally, it contributes to the development of local cultural and regional assets while raising the quality of living and welfare of the people in southern Thailand in order to ensure sustainable growth across every possible dimension and a brighter future.

The three key successes of Pakk Taii Design Week 2023: reaching out to everyone and building good relations for all ages, nationalities, and areas.

CEA Design Week supporters will certainly be familiar with many of the designers, creators, and city developers from both the public and private sectors from different regions around Thailand who took part in organizing various festivals, including Bangkok Design Week in Bangkok, Chiang Mai Design Week in Chiang Mai, Isan Creative Festival in Kon Kean, and the latest event, Pakk Taii Design Week in Songkhla, Trang, and Pattani. We can proudly say that each of these festivals achieved its desired goals, with Pakk Taii Design Week being the highlight reflecting powerful cooperation of creativity among the local communities. Although the main area of this festival was organized in Songkhla Old Town, more than 95%, or over 206 individuals taking part, were local people, comprising creators, designers, craftsmen, business operators, and local communities from 14 southern provinces: Songkhla, Trang, Pattani, Yala, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Pattalung, Surat Thani, Krabi, Phuket, and so on. As for the design concepts and putting works into action themselves, it is needless to say that nobody knows their “home” better than those living in it. Therefore, local studios and companies were employed for the event production section, while installation and construction were carried out by local labor resources, whose creative power and abilities were truly remarkable.

Pakk Taii Design Week also aimed to bridge the generation gap, bringing home the new generation to help develop their birthplace. Therefore, effective work procedures and attractive presentations were carefully planned to reach out to people of different ages, targeting mainly the groups of people who are at the helm of local development, those who act as the “key man” of the middle generation, connecting the old and new generations together. This was done through a range of cooperative programs set up prior to, during, and after the festival.

As for the 1st “the-Trang Creative Week, the creative festival of The-er,” in Trang province, a derelict hospital building that stood inactive for more than 10 years has been revived and redesigned to become a creative space by a team of Hua Bon creators. The team brought together the exclusively made-in-Trang creative works, while the group called “Malayu Living” from Pattani was the responsible figure in organizing activities in three southern provinces, all of which have their own unique charms and identities, helping to promote creative ideas that reflect the fundamental traits of the south.

Homecoming platform for the new generation

The festival aimed to create a platform for young generations of southern Thailand who return to their birthplace, giving them the opportunity to reveal their talents or abilities in organizing this first festival in conjunction with other events such as those from SoulSouth Studio of Yala, Southson Design from Songkhla, Hatyai Connex from Hat Yai, Hua Bon team from Trang, Melayu Living from Pattani, and Creative Nakhon from Nakhon Si Thammarat. The young generations have been able to disclose their potential and the power of creativity while helping to expand cultural assets—preventing them from disappearing—through contemporary-style storytelling, which is the essence of this festival. The event keeps memoirs, conveys messages, and generates various questions to trigger joint conversations focusing on people-related stories.

A number of activities were organized, such as exhibitions and stage plays to tell the story and relationship of the Chinese immigrants in Songkhla, Nora performance to tell the story of the Nora master, films to depict the social elements of the area through the signs and symbols, or installation arts that have incorporated deep-rooted Muslim values to build shared feelings and experiences in different dimensions among the locals and story owners. Outsiders were also drawn into these experiences, promoting local and cultural changes with times and eras without losing the identities. Young men and women were able to ask questions on what would be available for them if they decided to come back home. They could actually see the changes taking place in the town such as new coffee shops, fusion food restaurants, incense shops, bookshops, creative areas, and the hall of arts. These are pioneering spots to generate income and bring new prospects for the new generations to create a good town that generates income with the ability to accommodate all kinds of people, which is the key element that brings about changes to their hometown.

Create snowball effect on areas and economy which improve the quality of lives of the people in the community

This festival played an important role in driving Thailand’s creative economy forward and has generated more than 165 million Baht in revenue. The cultural assets, the influence of creative people, and the architectural blending of creative places are all factors that led to the success of this festival. All of these critical elements created a great impact where creativity was adapted and applied to bring about value creation, resulting in social and economic impact. Southern areas of Thailand are not only famous for their rich natural tourism, but they are also becoming known for creative tourism, which attracts creative people from around the world to visit.

Some of the activities and exhibitions remained open after the festival ended. One of them was the “Peranakan Reborn-Bornhere” exhibition organized by a group of young designers comprising engineers, interior designers, and graphic designers from Hat Yai. They joined together to unravel the Peranakan culture and present its meaning through a collection of uniquely designed furniture items such as tables, chairs, carpets, and lamps. They were on display at the old Kien Charoen building and became the brand Pradtana, a new furniture design that combines distinctive local identities, history, and arts through contemporary designs. The team worked tirelessly to bring this collection to the international stage at the Peranakan Museum in Singapore.    

The installation art, Billah, is a sculpture displayed on the pier at the far end of Songkhla Lake, on Laem Son side, created by designers from Pattani. It has become a Melayu-style landmark which attracts many visitors each day. Baan Nai Kampang, Laem Son community, a 200-year-old historic home of a Chinese baron, has only the remnants of the old walls and Chinese-style door arches, an ancient well, and foundation pillars. This ancient home was revived and turned into Songkhla Kombucha House surrounded by Indian marsh tree garden, a tea plantation and the first tea and fruits marinated location of the province. Additionally, this venue serves as a hub for new products crafted from local ingredients, fostering economic gains for the community.

Identity graphic at Ban Bon Masjid was created by Bangkok designers, Poj Aksornsanan, using signposts and other local compositions as raw materials for his contemporary graphic design and fonts that reflect the identity of the Masjid. These design works, including logo, fonts, signposts, flags, stickers and paper mattress, have been adapted for the local market and community activities.

The installation art, “Chinese Spring Home,” by Nakrob Moonmanas, a renowned Bangkok collage artist whose inspiration stemmed from stories of the Chinese immigrants in Songkhla and the meaning of the word "home," His works remain on display at Kao Hong House for all visitors to explore and discover the stories hidden in this modern art design combined with old photographs of Songkhla, which will act as a historic record and invaluable memoir of Songkhla in the future years.

Design Weeks or Design Festivals are the important tool that help drive the creative economy forward, and also improve the quality of lives and welfare of the people using designs to transform cities into desirable places to “live, visit, and invest.” When we see improvements in living quality and economy at the creative district, or the smallest section of the town, it means the economy at the city level will also be elevated, with strong emphasis on close cooperation between all sectors. The development will continue and expand to become a larger network of cooperation between districts and cities, which will bring about greater learning and knowledge sharing to drive growth at the provincial and city levels and become a creative city in the global arena.

Pakk Taii Design Week 2023 was held through cooperation between Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization) or CEA and the Southern Network, with support from Songkhla Administration, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), TCEB, DASTA, Epson Thailand, Chevron Exploration and Production, and PTT. This cooperation is ready to expand the cultural assets of southern Thailand to create greater awareness among the public, maintain the mission of creative knowledge, support and develop the potential of people and businesses in the district, and become a hub that inspires people in the area to respond to their needs and the changes that are taking place in the world today and in the future.