Jewelry brand Pattaraphan is known for being beloved by the Hadid sisters, which is always a good starting point for a new venture. But more than that, the brand represents designer Nok Pattaraphan and her Thai heritage. After launching in 2018 with a vision of articulating her experiences through jewelry and employing local artisans, Pattaraphan never expected to have a cult fan base only two years in.
The Bangkok-based designer finds inspiration in the exploration of the “overlooked.” Her debut collection, worn by Gigi Hadid in her Establishment NY Polaroids, was born out of the anxiety of living in an overcrowded city, perceived from an esoteric standpoint, as well as the abundance of consumption in the form of literal discarded soda tabs littering cities. In other words, Pattaraphan seeks to explore the beauty in ordinary objects.
Launching only one full collection a year and two capsules around Valentine’s Day and the holidays, each bears a meaningful connection to the designer. Pattaraphan produces collections locally and in small batches in an effort to minimize overproduction and limit the amount of resources used. For a new locket collection, the designer is donating 10 percent of all sales to Baan Dek Foundation to help Thailand’s children in need, a charitable cause close to the designer’s heart.
Below, the designer dishes on her inspirations, gender fluidity in design, sustainability, and her hometown.
You created such an inclusive contemporary brand, thanks to your approach to gender-fluid and timeless pieces. What inspires you?
At the very beginning, I thought only a small group of people would understand and buy my work. Now, I have people who I didn’t think would care about my work as loyal clients. It’s been a happy surprise, and I’m inspired to create jewelry that is thoughtful and relevant for more characters and styles. My philosophy towards jewelry is that it should feel good on the skin and look best when worn. So it’s really the people who wear the jewelry that allow my designs to come to life. It’s rewarding to translate personal stories into pieces that others can appreciate and want to wear, and this results in designs that resonate with a wider audience.
How has your background shaped your creative vision?
My Thai heritage is at the core of Pattaraphan, but it is represented in my own perspectives. Thailand is a country in which the old exists with the new. Here, you find super-trendy malls and skyscrapers next to temples and traditional houses. And this, in a way, is a physical manifestation of how I experience and interact with my culture. For me, there is always a rebellious side that is very experimental and pushing societal boundaries. Yet, a softer side still exists—the need to respect and pay homage to the old traditions and values. This coexistence of the two opposites in my life is important to my creative processes and concepts. So, in my wildest creations, there will always be a nod to my background.
What about designing jewelry appeals to you?
Jewelry is a mix of various things—chemistry, physics, art, design, et cetera. There are rules and methods, but some things really don’t need precision to work. So I find the process really intriguing and fun. What’s more, because jewelry is a wearable sculpture, I will always approach my work as a work of art. It needs reasons, sentiments, and personal stories. Thinking about it now, wearing a Pattaraphan jewelry is basically wearing a story or a feeling from my life.
And on top of this, jewelry usually makes people happy. It has different layers of emotional attachments, and I love figuring out its interaction on the human body. Overall, the intricate complexity of jewelry—from the history to the making to when people receive and wear it—will always fascinate me.
Why is it important to you to have everything locally made? Can you tell us how you source materials?
I grew up super close with my grandmothers and an aunt who helped raise me. And they instilled this love and appreciation towards Thai arts, traditions, and artistry. Going back to the duality that exists in my life and work, it was very natural to look to my roots when I started producing my modern minimal designs. Besides this, it’s very important to me to support local artisans and community whenever I can. With Thai craftsmanship epitomizing the quality I look for for my jewelry production, it was an easy decision to produce locally.
Quality, to me, is always about responsibility as well. Basing my production in Thailand means I’m very hands on towards quality control and material sourcing. We use high-quality sterling silver, brass, and gold. For gemstones, we focus on using deadstock materials. We’re not where we want to be since it’s difficult to find sustainable options here in Thailand. Sustainability is a concept that a lot of people—manufacturers, clients, et cetera—are still trying to understand, but I think we have come really far since I started my brand three years ago. Now, there are more alternatives, so I’m excited to keep challenging myself to find better ways to source materials.
What would you say is your notable style?
I’d say my notable style is edgy minimalism. I like simplicity and details.
Soda tabs seem to be a recurrent element throughout your work. Why are they so special to you?
I started using that form in my first collection, called Pressure, because it really represents waste. Although my collections grew and explored other topics, I think stress and anxiety are a constant companion for me, and possibly other people in this day and age. Because these are still a recurrent theme in my life, the shape remains a recurrent theme in my work. Using the silhouette, I have the power to reinterpret it and, in some ways, feel like I have more authority towards my feelings. Although people think it’s an edgy take on the topic, it came from more of a tender place where I’m reconciling with what the soda tabs represent—urban anxiety.
Has your creative process shifted since COVID?
Not really, because luckily, Thailand is not very much affected in terms of COVID-19 cases. I still can make multiple factory visits per week to develop designs, and fingers crossed things keep improving! In a way, the pandemic also has helped me focus more since you’re more or less forced to stay at home as much as possible. It’s been a reflective time.
Where do you see the brand going in the future?
I definitely would like to be in more retailers, in more regions, but I’m happy to slowly build this. I’m a designer first, and so it’s a process to learn to grow the brand sustainably. Besides expanding the jewelry line, I see Pattaraphan as more of a lifestyle brand, and I want to explore other areas that I’m interested in. I would love to have a cafe, exhibition space, or a boutique hotel so people can visit and have another dimension to their experience with the brand. Jewelry isn’t something you buy every day, so it would be nice to be part of our clients’ lives in other ways. But also, I love coffee! This might be an excuse to drink coffee every day.
Jokes aside, whatever I do, I want to be as conscious and passionate about it as possible. Since my other interests involve coffee and traveling, a cafe seems like a more practical choice than a hotel. Especially when the north of Thailand is known for coffee. I want to learn more about it and integrate that as a first step towards making Pattaraphan a sustainable lifestyle brand.
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