Saturday, July 23, 2011

The confession of Design Director

"THE ORIGINAL and THE ANOTHER" by Kaisern Chen, StudioSOTA's Design Director

Most of my time still spend on industrial design, for home furnishing, appliance or for some public furniture and architecture fittings. When we look around, we found usually the competitor is ourselves. And this does not implicate that we are the best one available, we are among the very good ones but we can’t say and we are not the best.
As I often tell the designers or engineers who works for me or work with me, I do not require the best one to work for me, in stead, I am willing to work for the best one. And one does not need to be best to deliver excellent jobs, especially I still prefer people to work as a team rather than play individually. But what does not need?
The decision! The decision to be excellent!

The picture illustrate the Pinna M Wine Rack, one of my most recognizable designs. I designed it in early 2006, with the original Pinna, and file the design pattern in US and EC and got the pattern approved in mid 2007. The Pinna M is a diversion but close resemble of the original Pinna, which still sells well, particular in Italy.

It was originally a commissioned work from a wooden product manufacturer to design something unique, requiring high skill (obvious to avoid common competitors), and can be finished in exceptional quality to ask for premium. I receive the request, looked at my desk where somehow an empty wine glass was there, so I say “OK, I will do a wine rack!”, and the design is finished practically in minutes.

I must admit I am not a genius, I read slow, and often need to read twice or more to remember something I want to remember. Come to design, I often spend a lot of time just to cooking the idea in my mind, sometimes months before the vague picture became clear and I can start to draw or to draft it. So I got lucky with the Pinna wine rack? Not really!

I have made a decision to design a wine rack, so I ask the common specification of the wood cutting from the manufacturer, the width, the thickness and the length and so on. At the same time, I am also determined to defy the common, be different and useful in more than one way. And I really have little choice but to settle on what I eventually designed.
Is it easy, yes, for this one. Because the common wine rack/storage were all around a horizontal display or shelf, which when the system builds up, you don’t really know what you have there. Going horizontally, you always require more space, so the decision to be different gives me a clear direction – to go vertically. And with the limitation on wood, the purpose to also display the wine label, I arrived at what I designed. And when look back, this is really easy. And the difficult part, make the right decision to be The ORIGINAL and different, not just THE ANOTHER one.

"Never a day goes by without a line"
Happy designing/ creating


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Finally, we have the final design of the Dish Rack project ready to be presented in the few days. It is the combination of two concepts: Maximum function with sensual look. In expensive and compact space in shipping!
The last touch that we've been asked from the client is to add the Red Ring at the folding spot of the product to make this new item matches with their current collections.

No complain! It was quite a smooth design process and we 've nailed the brief strongly!

"Never a day goes by without a line"
Happy designing/ creating


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dish Rack Contestants

Designers, even we have the same title, everyone has different design approach on the one same project.
On our Dish Rack Design, each suppose to present two directions, then the team will choose down to 3 or 4 concepts to go further on the design board.
Here were our final four;

SINE, a middle end styling, not too fashion but enough to make different and adding some style to the kitchen.
Maybe a catch to look at the beginning, it may not match all the kitchen. It targets to a younger, small space habitants.
Can hold up 15-16 plates with utensil hollder and an opened lane for putting cups, glasses on. ( with small slope detail to keep your cups always slide in)
Come with tray as a set.
Color is fashionable, candy with a bit metallic touch.

MIST, a basic approach with all functional improvements. It may appear simple, it holds up a lot of plates and you can use all the space inside to the fullest. Even the wall of utensil holder, there are ribs to help you secure the plates. The interesting improvement on the inside of the utensil part is great little details; the inner ribs added to help organizing your tools, the bottom of utensil basket is concave shape so, all the water goes down surely to the underneath tray.
The color is very tone down, Eco friendly to your eyes and as same as to your kitchen. But is this shape different enough?

MAX, a fullest capacity to hold up all sizes of your plates, 4" to 11" fit all and yes, a lots of them. Not much explanation, just for people who go crazy for the value! Cheap in production, because two parts are actually come from the same tool, just flip it and assemble to ..X shape.
Save space for storage, shipping and ratialer will love it. Once folded, it became flat and ready to be shrink wrapped.
The utensil pocket is separate from the main rack and snap to the side of the rack itself. Come with tray which can be a cover when packed for shipping.
No color application yet!

BOOMERANG, a fancy sophisticated look for the dish, and for your kitchen. There are only two plastic slats, thin and place next to each other forming up the rack... You can go longer, just buy more slats. There are very stylish utensil pockets to both ends. ( not quite finish, need to add holes for water to drain out but this is only the idea sketch)
Assemble with the Aluminum rod, close all parts with knob on each side. Boom.....Boomerang Dish Rack.

Already have met our final four contestants, which one do you think will win?
Feel free to vote your mind and share your comments.

I will reveal the final after the BREAK. ( cut to commercial)

Never a day, without a line,
Happy Designing


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dish Rack Design Project

We began to blog while our design studio is working on this Dish Rack design project for a plastic factory.
The design brief is Simple.
" We want the dish rack design that goes with our other items in the catalogue, it has to be practical and easy to produce, not like our current one that we copied from G*ZZ*NI"

It always irritates me when someone admits proudly that they make a living on copy and call themselves designers. No, you are copier and it will lead your company to the price driven, competing with China who by the way, copy iPad and BMW FYI.
I hope by working together will make them realize the role of designer and the importance of being creative, original and DO NOT make a living by COPY.

Another key to this project is it has to be CHEAP, this is a big word. It needs all requirements as the fancy brands want for their design but this brand stands for inexpensive, not even affordable. I did not count how many times he mentioned cheap, supermarket, and basic.
After all, he needs it to also different than the one in the market.

I looked at our engineer and thought this may not be Basic job as we basically imagined.

Before we showcase the design directions we have worked for them.
Let see what we got from our research.
The Top 10 dish rack list and source where to buy good dish rack 2011
from Apartmenttherapy New York.




MoMA Design Store

The Conran Shop

Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop

Black and Blum

Tse & Tse

For full article,

This list by the way, is different than the one they listed on 2007, some are same but not the same ranking.
Here is from 2007

• Polder Compact dish rack ($20)
• Classic Bamboo folding rack ($20)
• Very Modern Stainless rack ($40)
• The Classic White Rubbermaid dish rack ($9)
• Funky Newson Dish Doctor ($72)
• Rohan dish rack ($50)
• Ikea ORDNING ($15)

These lists were benefit us greatly on what people like and looking for in the dish rack, but our restriction is
"Plastic, Practicle, Basic, Inexpensive and Different"

Next post, we will showcase our four design directions that selected for presenting to them.

"Never a day goes by without a line"
Happy designing/ creating


Design Battlefield

"Couture" Wine bucket, Client: Ardinox, India. Designed by SOTA.

We started this design blog after our official ID website was renovated. Some of our past works, not all, could be catalogued in this blog. But we will select them and showcase the insight of how creative,idea and design process made through the given sale or marketing brief.
There is Pre-War period when sale, marketer, creative, designer all discuss about the brief, the objective of each design project. It usually exciting, very informative and sometimes so inspiring.
And then come the WAR, between designers and design director, and all the time with Engineer who think nothing is possible.
Finally, the Post-War period, sometimes the results satisfy every one in the team, a lot of times the fight in this period between designer and the sale/marketing could be fierce! They want some design that sale proven, easy to understand, no need to communicate extra and of course inexpensive.
We( as a designer) need new challenge and innovative ideas to go to the production and be in the market. We just need the client to have a little more imagination as same as engineer and sale people. Stop being up tight or too much into number of sale driven.
We do not need just another product, another junk.
We need more great products.

Nothing is impossible!

The top five pictures are SS wine bucket that can be dressed up for a party. Use it with imagination and people will remember your party. Little thanks to the bucket.
For the last pic, credit goes to my friend, Nok Thayavee, whom I always imagine quite early that she would be who she is today. Very creative and Always very kind and caring at heart. We ( SJB friends) think she smiles like a Japanese cartoon character, still does, she lights up the whole room, as same as her little Dada.
Her children art/creative school called "Creakids" say it all that why do we need people , especially little people, with more imagination.
We want them to grow up and spin this world a little bit more interesting, don't we?คิดส์สร้างสรรค์/106903335997345?ref=ts&sk=wall

"Not a day goes by without a line"
Happy designing/ creating


Industrial Design / Product Design

Studio Sota (Design studio) is a professional product design and OEM/ODM/production control house. The company’s mission and passion have been to create innovative, sophisticated designs and to realize these designs through advanced production methods. Our results reflect this threefold expertise. Sota’s raison d’être is to achieve synthesis of superior design and impeccable production for the creation of novel, stunning and functional products. We will stand for nothing less. Our work of arts are created for people who insist on a sophisticated design and quality construction.“There is no problem, only solutions.”.