Interview Designer : Jeuy - Chutapat Nivasratana
Jeuy- Chutapat Nivasratana is growing up in a family of artists. Upon graduating, she became part of the new generation of driven designers — developing and presenting Thainess within their jewelry products. Now, her unique designs have catapulted her to fame, advancing her family name and her country alongside it.
Her latest collection, which she created for The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand’s Gems Treasure Project, presents Chiang Mai’s jewelry in a new and fascinating form. The collection, titled “Hiran Lanna” is a stunning mixture of traditional and modern designs. It has her unique touch, and applies Thai art inspired by religion, beliefs, history, and way of life of Chiang Mai’s locals.
“ ‘Hiran’ means silverware, goldware or items of value, and ‘Lanna’ means the city of Chiang Mai. ‘Hiran Lanna’ together means a city of silver and gold. In this collection, there is a large necklace using repoussé technique, plated with 14 karat gold mixed with black ruthenium. The jewelry itself is made from genuine silver. There’s also a bracelet, earrings, ear pieces, and a hair pin. The hair pin is indispensable, as it is what Chiang Mai women are known for.”
“I designed a large necklace with a Purna-Kalasha motif because I often saw this pattern on the temple murals when I was travelling around Chiang Mai. I started wondering why this pattern appeared in almost every single temple. A person told me that the pattern was called ‘Purna-Kalasha’, which was the first time I’ve ever heard of such a thing. The Purna-Kalasha vase was a symbol of Lanna. It’s characteristics are a large vase filled with blossoming lotus flowers. Some temples would have a giant mural of it on its walls. It is believed that this object will bring abundance and prosperity when presented to Buddha. In my design and pattern, there is also a story.”
“I’m a designer, but I double down as a researcher as well. That’s because to design something, I have to delve into the philosophy and origin of an idea. For example, I was interested in where Chiang Mai or Lanna artists got their influence from. Digging for information, I found out that Chiang Mai in the past was a part of the Burmese colony for no less than 200 years. Thus, the region was influenced greatly from the temples to the fabric to the buddhist sculptures and the paintings, etc. As for the Burmese, they were influenced from China, because Burma used to be a colony of China. Some influence also came from Laos. So the art of Lanna was a mixture of influences by Burma, China, Laos, and the different local tribes.”
“I am not only interested in the superficial aspects of each traditional art, but I’m also interested in the spirit and sentiment of those who created those works as well. What were the craftsmen trying to convey when they created a specific piece? What does each incision mean? In a way, it is a record of history. I gather all the information and insights before I create a new collection.”
“The Hiran Lanna collection presents a new image of Chiang Mai’s repoussé technique. If anyone has ever walked down Wua Lai Road, they’ll see many repoussé works with beautiful zodiac patterns. However for me, my patterns are a mix of Thai designs and geometry — representing modernity. The main shape that I use in my designs are squares, linking to how Chiang Mai’s urban design was in the shape of a square. So, I created patterns from squares and flowers.”
“Finally, I want to say that Chiang Mai is an extremely envious city. It’s a city of excellent handcrafts and they preserve their history well. What’s missing may be development of the crafts. Development is something important, because it will continue both traditional and contemporary art into the future. If we don’t develop and evolve, some art forms might go extinct. This is because the newer generation doesn’t wear traditional jewelry. So, it’s my job to evolve it into something they can wear in their everyday lives. What’s most important is not only developing and evolving, but also creating unique designs as well.”