"When I completed my accounting degree, I launched out into the silk trade, borrowed a friend's car and went to Isarn – the northeastern Thai region where my parents were born. There, the beauty...
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"When I completed my accounting degree, I launched out into the silk trade, borrowed a friend's car and went to Isarn – the northeastern Thai region where my parents were born. There, the beauty of the landscapes took me aback. Rural life was quite foreign to me and I genuinely enjoyed it – the morning mist over the rice fields, the silhouettes of the farmers pushing their buffalos at sunset, the smells of the countryside and burning wood in the evening, the spicy Isarn food and this incredible workmanship. I roamed about Isarn and the neighboring Laos where I met hundreds of 'silk people.' I saw old men dyeing, women weaving and children raising silk worms. They often put me up and generously taught me their handicraft. This was the beginning of a long journey into the world of arts and crafts.
"My name is Thannaree Chaichanachanasin but I go by Uwe. I was formerly known to Novica's customers as Tanyashanok Chaichana, but my parents decided to change our names for better luck.
"I grew up in a humble middle class family with three younger sisters. My dad is a cab driver and my mother takes care of the home, which is also a huge task. I greatly love and respect both my parents. My father is an example to me; he taught me to make the most of my work and my life. My mother is tough; she taught me to never worry and to face life and its intricacies. We are a tight family and we love one another. My sisters love fashion as much as I do and we regularly call one another, resulting in telephone bills that are driving my parents to despair. To describe myself in a few words I would say that I am curious, over-trusting, I like to laugh and I enjoy life to the fullest.
"Although I like rural life to a great extent, I am above all a contemporary town-dweller, which is evident in the way I dress, the way I speak and think, but more importantly, the way I design. However, some prominent Thai silk circles are too conservative, and they believe that some of the silks shouldn't leave the country, that the processes, patterns, textures should be kept secret and that their beauty should only embellish Thai people in a traditional fashion. So I gradually steered away from these circles and left Wanida Chaichana, my dear cousin and partner, to manage the silks. Of course I did not think the same way at first but my style has also evolved overtime. Note that I still use traditional fabrics such as the madmee,
weaving techniques and sew them into contemporary accessories and clothes to be used on every occasion, not only to follow a cultural or traditional trend.
"I now use silk, hemp, cotton or any fabric I like, but I am not making these fabrics myself. After many years close to the silk and cotton makers I, of course, know the whole crafting process and I have enough knowledge and experience to dye and weave properly, but I am above all a collector, a needlewoman and I particularly enjoy designing. I continue making fabrics and clothing but have also gradually diversified my handicrafts.
"I now design jewelry, aromatherapy sets, lacquer works, ceramics and have started designing items made with different kinds of materials. To that end, I have been working closely with both small artisan families and with factories. It is of utmost importance to understand the crafting processes and problems linked to getting quality materials and production to be able to design. I humbly learned at my own expense that one cannot just design whatever because it looks good on the paper, and then end up being unable to put it into concrete form because the processes for making it are incompatible.
"My challenge is to set lofty goals and to put them into concrete form. My favorite things in life are my family… to visit my friends in Isarn and Laos… to help them sell their work… to please my customers and now to design products. I have a private collection of ancient Thai handicrafts, mostly exceptional silks. I only trade individually with special people, hence I hope that shoppers will appreciate the pieces presented on Novica's web site.
"In fact, my dreams are to show off this Siamese culture and past of ours to the world through my handicrafts, while still offering a fresh contemporary flair, the result being sometimes quite like myself – anachronistic. Each country has beauty and importance, at least in its own eyes. In Thailand we have many beautiful things, and among them are unique handicrafts."