Q&A: Saran Yen Panya on Dream Collabs & Sustainability

Have you seen our festive decorations? We sat down with the mastermind behind them.

Meet Saran Yen Panya: the globetrotting artist and Thai visionary who created those mirrored masterpieces in The Parlor and Tease at The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon. Saran founded 56thStudio, a creative studio in Bangkok where he brings conceptual brand philosophies into the tangible realm. His work explores narrative through film, graphics and installations like the stunning displays at The Standard. (He also runs Citizen of Nowhere, a brand dedicated to Thai handicrafts.)

We caught up with Saran to talk sustainability, dream collabs and more of our shared obsessions...

Saran, you describe yourself as a storyteller. What story do the festive decorations at The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon tell?

I have always been obsessed with things that are considered bad taste, kitschy, cheap, and underrated. Trying to prove my ugly cute point of view, I created a festive installation for The Standard using thousands of cheap neon plastic mirror frames as a modular. 

John Waters once said, “To understand bad taste, one must have very good taste first.” I think what I am trying to express is that when we look in the mirror, we must learn how to embrace our flaws and realize that our imperfections made us who we are. And we are our best gift! 

You studied at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. How did that experience in Scandinavia influence your design process today?

Having studied in Sweden made me appreciate my Thainess even more. I realized I can’t be a minimalist, and I love organized chaos. I think this dilemma has been pushing me to seek my definition of Thainess to this very day.

Even without decorations, Tease makes a significant visual impact. How do you balance your designs within such a distinctive design atmosphere

Tease is a bold graphical heaven. I love what Jamie Hayon (my design idol) did for the space. I noticed that there are a lot of repetitive patterns in the room. Therefore, the installation also mimics those patterns to make everything blend seamlessly. 

I can’t be a minimalist, and I love organized chaos.

The trees you created for us feature mirrors you’d find at a Thai market. How do you think about sustainability when you begin designing a new project?

For me, sustainability comes with the idea that you can reuse, rethink, and repurpose things - (everyday things in this case) - in a new creative way. It could also be overly produced objects or materials as well. Sustainability should always come with breathing new life into the old contexts. 

Tell us a little about 56th Studio. 

It started 12 years ago with my best friend, Napawan. The studio aimed to create a boundary-pushing design studio that merges all creative tools from Graphic design, Space Design, Object design, and, most importantly, Storytelling.

What’s your next dream collaboration?

None. I am learning to go with the flow and whatever life throws at me. My current dream is to be an islander on a remote island in the Pacific. (With a solid internet signal, of course)

What are your plans for the festive season?

I am sipping a nonalcoholic pina colada on a remote, unknown island. 


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