BESIDES THEIR IMPRESSIVE PORTFOLIO, APOSTROPHYS GROUP HAS NOW EXPANDED THEIR DESIGN TERRITORY THROUGH THE OPERATION OF THREE SUBSIDIARIES IN ORDER TO SURVIVE IN THIS CHALLENGING CONTEMPORARY WORLD.
For a design studio, a period of almost a decade of working in the industry brings with it a diverse and exciting track record. Countless collaborations with an impressive number of brands take place through the transitional age of technological development and social changes. Physically, their work continues to change, making their design repertoire almost indefinable. It becomes one of the reasons why when asked to define who they are and what they do in one word, Apostrophys Group gives three: mutation, adaptation and multi-disciplinary.
Apostrophys Group was founded in 2009 by Panthawit Lawaruengchok and his friends who had been participating in student activities back in their college years at the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning of Thammasat University. It was during this time that they were given opportunities to get their hands on exhibition design as the team experimented with different methods of communication from print media, websites and music videos to motion graphics. Throughout the eight years of its operation, Apostrophys Group has created three monumental design projects that mark turning points of their career. art4d pavilion at Architect’ 2011 was the first work that earned the group coverage in international media. The next project was KINECT INTERACTIVE WALL COTTO in 2012 with Don Mueng International Airport being the designated site. The design of the interactive screen called for direct interactions from users and kicked off the era of interactive media and the popularity of exhibition design that followed. For Apostrophys Group, the work ‘The Tree of Life’ completed last year for Central Bangna, was conceived during the transitional period when the studio intended to lessen the number of its exhibition design projects and focus more on permanent and architectural projects. “The work is basically the renovation of a very old set of spiral staircases. We proposed the idea to CPN that we wanted to create a program for each landing to correspond with the program of each floor. For instance, at the top floor where all the tutoring schools are located, we added seats for kids and parents while on the floor with all the cafes and restaurants, the landing serves as a space where the younger, teenage customers hang out. CPN agreed and kept the staircase instead of demolishing it, which was their initial intention.”
THE STUDIO’S CURRENT WORKING PHILOSOPHY AND SIGNATURE IS THE FACILITATION OF INTERACTIONS AND CREATION OF WORKS THAT HAVE GREATER ACCESS TO A WIDER GROUP OF AUDIENCES RATHER THAN COMMUNICATING WITH A PARTICULAR GROUP OF VIEWERS.
The studio’s current working philosophy and signature is the facilitation of interactions and creation of works that have greater access to a wider group of audiences rather than communicating with a particular group of viewers for only a specific period of time (during the time and within the space of an exhibition). Their works are conceived with the ability to bring viewers from the physical space to the online platform, corresponding with the way modern-day consumers receive and interact with information. For this issue, Apostrophys Group further explains that with the changes in the briefs given by customers, there are certain events where products are not intended to be sold right away, on the spot. The role of the design studio is to come up with a program that will make consumers buy the product in the next five years.” Over a period of six months, events attract lower numbers of people while the entrepreneurs themselves don’t want to invest too much money in them. So in the future, the functionality of exhibition design has to be more than just an event that brings people in to see the product. The focus needs to be put on the content, which has to be relatable to other communication platforms or individuals who are able to serve as the portals that allow for the consumers to have direct access to the product.
THE FOCUS NEEDS TO BE PUT ON THE CONTENT, WHICH HAS TO BE RELATABLE TO OTHER COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS OR INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE ABLE TO SERVE AS THE PORTALS THAT ALLOW FOR THE CONSUMERS TO HAVE DIRECT ACCESS TO THE PRODUCT.
The problem concerning staff shortage, especially when considering the number of projects the company is handling and other design limitations (creative block and inability to maintain consistency of the production), is viewed as both a strong and weak point of the way the studio works. Nevertheless, Apostrophys Group deals with the dilemma differently by offering designers with over 4-years experience the opportunity to become partners of Apostrophys Group’s affiliates. “We open a new business every 2-3 years, which means that everyone can become our partner. I think the time where people have to be employees for the rest of their lives is no longer. Because at the end of the day, everyone wants to have their own business.” The model has given birth to three of Apostrophys Group’s affiliates: Apostrophy’s (working primarily in exhibition design), sense dot s (specializing in interactive media) and Synonym (providing services for commercial interior projects). The emphasis being put on the development of the ability of its designers can be seen from the company’s investment in Research & Development. “There were years where we invested in non-profit projects with the objective being to find new technologies and trends. The number I’m talking about is two projects a year. The reason is it’s almost impossible to experiment on a commercial project where there’s no room left for mistakes. One of the most obvious projects is the Epson Café Tube, which is the result of our experimentation with the brand’s projector as a part of an R&D project,” Panthawit explained to art4d before ending the conversation with a very positive insight about the future of spatial design in Thailand. “In terms of innovation, the potential of exhibition design in our country is very high because we have a very strong advertising industry. Surely there are certain issues about management and organization but we’ve always survived and evolved through the incredible skills and fresh and exciting ideas of our human resources.”
TEXT: NAPAT CHARITBUTRA / PAPHOP KERDSUP