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Education key in call for more designers

THAILAND’S EDUCATION system is failing to provide the skilled personnel needed for the design industry’s sustainable development, according to the Chanapatana International Design Institute (CIDI).

Professor Sakorn Suksriwong, president of CIDI, said Thai designers had at least two key strong points. 
First, they have a unique culture that leads to uniqueness in design with bold characteristics. Second, their creativity is second to none. This is a result of Thailand being a multicultural country, resulting in a wide range of design spectra, which makes the work of Thai designers more interesting.
“Nevertheless, our design-education system and connectivity are weaknesses that have limited our growth potential in the global design arena.
“Thai education in the design field was originally reserved for people with talent. However, we believe that with a proper curriculum, we can help any dedicated student comply with international standards. 
“On the second point, Thailand lacks connectivity with design markets internationally. As a result, Thai designers lack the opportunity to present their work in the international market,” he said.
“Thus I believe government should focus on these two things, supporting design education and providing an international marketplace for Thai designers.” 
Sakorn said Thailand had strong upstream and downstream industries such as the textile industry that make it possible to build up a design industry. In addition, Thais are starting to see design work as important. 
And that is not limited to branded design, but also design that fits with individual self-identity. These factors are playing a major role in pushing the industry forward.
To make Thailand a centre of excellence in design, however, it has to focus further in three more areas. Sakorn said they are:
1. Internationalisation. We have to focus on international markets and competition, and not limit ourselves by focusing only within Thailand.
2. Collaboration. We need to help one another build up a network of design and design education around the world, such as bringing in talented professors from abroad and sending designer out to countries renowned in design to hone their skills further.
3. Professionalism. We have to be professional in design and develop ourselves from inspiration to commercialisation, and not be satisfied with being only part of the chain.
Sakorn said CIDI was established as a non-profit organisation in 2000. With support from the Phra Thammongkonlayarn Foundation, it defines its mission as developing skilled designers to compete with international players. 
Aiming for Thailand to become a design centre of the Asean region, CIDI Chanapatana provides [a??] two-year English-language diploma programme[s??] in fashion design and interior and product design.
“The ‘Thailand 4.0’ policy will drive the national economy by switching the focus from industry to technology, creativity and innovation. As a result, [having a] sufficient number of skilled designers is the key factor to gear Thailand towards that direction. 
“The solution from upstream will change the position of the Thai fashion industry from made-to-order to brand building, value-added and truly sustainable business,” Sakorn said. 
He said CIDI Chanapatana had a spearhead of transforming the country into a creative economy for years, even before there was such a policy as Thailand 4.0. 
“In order to develop value-added products, we need to put design into the product. In order to create design work, we need designers. That’s why we try our best to develop skilled designers for the Thai design world.” 
“Thus we believe we have played a virtual role in pushing the country towards a creative-economy system and we have been successful so far, as we can see that many of our alumni have successfully created their own brands in both the fashion design and interior and product design industries.” 
Currently, the market demand in Thailand exceeds the country’s capacity to provide qualified design personnel. 
Even though universities offer affordable bachelor’s degree programmes, the applicants are required to take an entrance examination and only limited number of them are accepted. Moreover, it takes them four years to graduate. 
For private institutes, the tuition can be too expensive for many students. These options may hinder Thailand from fully moving towards the creative economy. 
As CIDI provides English-language programmes instructed by lecturers from countries renowned for design, this will upgrade Thai educational standards in this field, bring the best out of each student, and broaden the students’ view so they understand global design standards, the institution says.In 2016, the Thai fashion-design industry, including textiles, accessories and leatherware, had export value of more than Bt600 billion, creating more than 2.5 million jobs throughout the country’s fashion-industry chain. 
Thailand’s gross domestic product last year was around Bt11.8 trillion, to which the fashion-design industry contributed around 5 per cent.

Published : May 15, 2017


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