• Acclaimed bestseller that explains the perplexing charms of Thai life.

• Definitive source on Thai pop, trusted by locals, experts, media, students
and visitors.

• Iconic style book for designers, authors, artists
and curators.

 

This pioneering celebration of Thai pop and streetlife has been totally revised to reflect the dramatic changes in Thailand. With a contemporary eye and two decades’ experience, the author delves beyond the Thai clichés to reveal the casual, everyday expressions of Thainess that so delight and puzzle, from floral truck bolts and taxi altars to buffalo cart furniture and drinks in a bags. Full of savvy insights into the impromptu creativity behind the exotic image of Thainess. Like no other book, Very Thai captures the quirky vigour of the Thai street. 

 

70 Chapters • 320 pages • 591 Colour Photographs

Foreword by Alex Kerr • Afterword by Pracha Suveeranont


Very Thai Blog
August 16, 2014

verythai.com Website Goes Live

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 19.23.21The interactive website verythai.com goes live, with full information about the book Very Thai and its many related events, talks, exhibitions, reviews, features, videos and documentary coverage.

Very Thai has had unprecedented involvement and loyalty by its readers for a book on Thailand. To repay that fanbase, now the author offers ways for the public to engage with the book online. You can interact with the VeryThai world in various ways, with live streaming from social media onto the ‘Social’ page of the website. You can post through the Very Thai fanpage on Facebook, tweet using the #verythai hashtag, and post pictures on Instagram using the #verythai tag. All these will stream live through verythai.com. Readers can also post reviews of Very Thai that will appear under Reader Reviews in the Reviews page of the website. You can also send in updates to the author, and suggest topics for future versions of Very Thai and related new books.

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #events #launch #Thailand 


August 14, 2014

Thai Indy: Statement or Style?

Talk at Bangkok University’s International College on 5 Nov 2014, 12.30-2pm
Thailand’s ‘indy’ subculture now spans two decades. Its impact on film, music, fashion, media and the arts have been tracked throughout by writer/editor Philip Cornwel-Smith, in Bangkok Metro Magazine, Time Out Bangkok guidebook and his book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture. The ‘From T-Pop to Indy’ chapter from Very Thai was reproduced in a book by MTV about Cool Asia; the chapter’s revision in Very Thai’s 2nd edition shows how indy has changed over time. In this talk, Philip addresses the status of Thai indy as a cultural movement, and questions whether it has declined or matured.

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #academic #art #Bangkok #events #indy #talks #Thailand 


July 1, 2014

20 Years of ThaiThai

Phases in Thai Popular Culture 1994-2014

20 Years of Thai Thai talk title

Philip Cornwel-Smith will give a talk on July 1 at Thammasat University to the students of its to the International Programme. Very Thai is one of their set texts. The talk will be a variation on the phases of Thai popular culture that Philip has witnessed during the past two decades in Bangkok.

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #academic #Bangkok #book #culture #international #talks 


June 12, 2014

Rotary Talk: Very Thai Thai

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Bangkok’s oldest Rotary Club hosted a talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith called ‘Very Thai Thai: How Pop Became Culture’. Held at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel in Bangkok, the after-lunch speech marked the first time in nearly a year that the author was spotted wearing a suit and tie.
read more »

Posted in: Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #events #talks #Thailand 


April 3, 2014

Thai blog on TCDC talk goes viral

The talk ‘Very Thai Cultural Filters: How Hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess’ by Philip Cornwel-Smith at TCDC on March 8 2014 sparked the Thai blogger GeekJuggler to write a post that then went viral.

Geek Juggler was animated by the idea that it is socially easier for non-Thais to do Thai-style design than for Thai designers, whose creativity is constrained by social pressures and taboos about secular use of forms related to Thai beliefs. He and most of the chat thread responders seemed to regard this as probably true and a sad situation in which it is hard to reconcile tradition and modernity. Many in the chat thread reposted the review to other blogs.

Geek Juggler “วิถีแบบไทยๆ” กับคำตอบว่าทำไมความคิดใหม่ๆ ถึงเกิดขึ้นได้ยากบนแผ่นดินนี้

GeekJuggler: Deconstruction is desecration?

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 14.08.44

reposted to Pornjeds blog

reposted to Kaebmoo blog

reposted to Zero The Zero blog

reposted to High Lizard blog

reposted to Fukaze blog

reposted to Rand’s Random Blog

reposted to Supawit Wannapila blog

reposted to Nattster blog

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #blogs #culture #design #events #reviews #talks 


March 21, 2014

20 Bangkok Years Celebrated in Space

Philip Cornwel-Smith holds anniversary party in [Space] Bangkok

Philip (right) with Pepsi, Steven Pettifor and Craig Knowles in Silom Soi 4 in 1994
Philip (right) with Pepsi, Steven Pettifor and Craig Knowles in Silom Soi 4 in 1994

On 21 March 1994, Philip started a new job, with a new visa and a new home – and a new life. Exactly 2 decades after his first day as founding editor of Bangkok Metro magazine, he marked the occasion with a reunion party of friends. And colleagues from throughout the Intervening years.

He chose Space as the venue because the journalist-run volunteer event space has the kind of impromptu bohemian bars for which Bangkok was famous back in the 1990s. It overlooks the river from the floor above a 7/11 in Khlongsan Market. What could be more Thai Thai?  Among the Space volunteers, Nym, Yvan and Scott helped manage the party, while Craig Knowles acted as a cheeky MC by delivering messages from absent friends, which ran to many pages and with plenty of rubbing and roasting of Philip.

Along the walls the party-goers spotted familiar faces (often their younger selves) in prints of party spreads from Metro magazine parties and the launch of Very Thai. Philip said a few words to thank all those present, and the many friends and colleagues who couldn’t be there. By the end of the night all were feeling the effects of the free yaa dong herbal whisky – or was it the shock of two decades of nostalgia?

Philip being roasted by Jennifer Gampell
Philip being roasted by Jennifer Gampell

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #metromagazine #parties 


March 8, 2014

TCDC talk: What are Thai Cultural Filters?

‘Very Thai Cultural Filters: How Hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess’

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As part of the TCDC exhibition ‘hello World’, Philip Cornwel-Smith gives a talk today at TCDC on March 8 2014. Called ’Very Thai Cultural Filters: How Hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess’, the talk goes into the ways that Thais are selective about what they import and adapt into hybrids.

Various Thai values, tastes and taboos act as filters to let in only part of the import while screening out aspects that don’t suit. This leads the talk to consider what cultural filters are needed in order to create designs, products and services that can appeal to the outside world while projecting a sense of Thainess. This means looking at what aspects of Thainess appeal (or not) to outsiders and how Thais might go about the tricky task of filtering their own cultural traits so that everyone benefits.

http://www.tcdc.or.th/calendar/detail.php?ID=17826&lang=en

 

TCDC - “Very Thai Cultural Filters- How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” Talk_Page_1TCDC - “Very Thai Cultural Filters- How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” Talk b_Page_1TCDC - “Very Thai Cultural Filters- How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” Talk b_Page_2

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #culture #design #talks #tcdc #tradition 


March 6, 2014

20 Years of Thai Thai

Phases in Thai Popular Culture 1994-2014

20 Years of Thai Thai talk title

Philip Cornwel-Smith will give a talk on 6 March 2014 at The National Museum for the National Museum Volunteers’ postponed Lecture Series. The talk was about the phases of Thai popular culture that Philip has witnessed during the past two decades in Bangkok.

 

Posted in: Events,

Tags: #academic #Bangkok #culture #events #talks #Thailand 


March 5, 2014

Phakinee ภคินี ดอกไม้งาม

Thainess Made of Other Things

By 

http://www.phakinee.com/thainess-made-of-other-things/

Phakinee 2014-06-29 at 21.33.30 Phakinee 2014-06-29 at 21.33.51 Phakinee 2014-06-29 at 21.34.01

Bangkok. Philip Cornwel-Smith is giving a talk about “Very Thai Cultural Filters: How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” this Saturday, 8 March, at Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC) at the Emporium.  I am sorry to miss it since I am going abroad tomorrow. Cornwel-Smith is the author of Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture which I have recommended ever in Bangkok von innen since I came across it for the first time.

In his now famous book, Cornwel-Smith tries, among great other reading material, to explain the way how very ordinary things can acquire and produce a common sense of “Thainess” in Thailand. You might get answers to the question how everyday goods and services can be imbued with a marketable “Thai” character during his talk on Saturday,

Quoted from the advance notice:

Thai culture has for centuries been highly porous to outside influence, yet Philip shows how Thais have maintained their culture by localising imports in distinct ways. This can be done through applying traditional materials, techniques and decoration, or by keeping the import’s form whilst replacing its original philosophy with one that resonates to Thais. Instead of direct copying, inventions from elsewhere have been riffed into hybrids that involve a shift in meaning. Thais have even turned Thai-foreign hybrids into icons of Thainess to be reprojected abroad as symbols of the country.Cultural filters that make Thai consumption of imports selective draw from instinctive cultural values. Now that Thailand faces increased global competition, the challenge is to create cultural filters that select aspects of Thainess appropriate to outside consumers.

In short, this talk is going to be about international mainstream and how to impose a Thai identity on it.

I offer a personal view on this subject or perhaps, as I probably should put it more accurately, a comment.

During history, people in Siam at times quickly lost their heads, if they were not mainstream. Still today, some may spend 18 years or more in prison and may loose everything they have including their social recognition), if they are not mainstream.

It is only my personal feeling as a foreigner, that this fact might add to various forms of  “typical” Thai behaviour (with strong foreign elements in it), that most of us would regard as outdated? Or, in some cases, even regard as undignified?

For instance, I do not believe that, 68 years after Nazi-Germany has been buried in the abyss of history, any of us youngsters under the age of 60 is capable to imagine, how a person feels while being forced by strong social constraints to stand to attention twice a day in public while listening to the national anthem which everybody is forced to hear on every public place in the country. A practice, which has been introduced in a time, when European fascist leaders’ personality cult was widely seen as a great role model für Siam.

Possibly apart from devout Christians, most Europeans also can hardly imagine how it feels to seriously “wai” a spirit house in which a strong spirit is known to stay. And very few of us can imagine to cringe in front of persons which are not more human than we are. Finally, how does it feel sharing a great love with all my friends and family for cheaply-produced plastic items that everybody simply “has to have” just to be socially recognized? Do you know? I don’t.

All these “typical” Thai habits have a very strong froreign taste, they are no typical Thai specialties or inventions, despite the fact that some people like to think so.

As for me, for instance, I simply cannot imagine how it feels to stand to attention in public places like a pillar of salt, having to listen to some extremely old-fashioned sounds, which do not really represent my favourite music style and, above all, looking statesmanlike while doing so. This is just because I never did so and I will probably never do.

However, recently at the beginning of my fourth decade of Thailand-experience, I actually started to ask myself once, how I could actually love my own country without having to stand to attention twice a day and moreover, sadly, not even having a king anymore in my country who would be like a father to me? The answer was: I love my country, for instance, precisely for the fact that I am not being urged to stand to attention at any place or to crawl in front of anyone or listening to any music that other people want to put on me.

What I can imagine, however, is this: How a schoolboy would feel if he is the only one in his class without an amulet (or any other fetish) around his neck, or a yellow (or any other) bracelet around his wrist with some magic or special formula printed on it. A magic or a formula which at the same time would be propagated in school, on TV, on public places, just everywhere.

I can imagine the feelings of such a schoolboy, because I might have been this boy myself if I had been born in Thailand. Simply because, as a matter of fact, I am medically allergic to many things, like raw hazelnuts (fortunately I can eat them after they are once heated up for cakes and chocolate…), jackfruit, cantaloupes, latex, and some pollen.

Moreover, I have been also socially allergic to things that “everybody has to do” since I was a lttle boy.

In my fifth class in school, there was a teacher who even wrote this into my school report, of course without any serious consequences except some raised eyebrows in the family. But what would have happened in a mainstream Thai school? Can we rule out that they would not have tried to beat out such a socially unacceptable behavior from me at an early time?

Enough. Please do not miss Philip Cornwel-Smith on Saturday, 8 March at the TCDC, 6th Floor The Emporium Shopping Complex, 622 Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok 10110. If his talks on Saturday are only half as interesting as his writings, it has to be a great lecture.

The talk “Very Thai Cultural Filters: How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” starts at 2 p.m. Admission is free, but it is recommended to register for a seat at the Online Reservation System or at TCDC Information Counter, phone (02) 664 84 48, ext. 213, 214.

 

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #culture #design #German #reviews #talks #tcdc 


February 27, 2014

‘Bangkok: Megalopolis between Order and Chaos’

Swiss NZZ TV documentary on Bangkok features Very Thai in German

NZZ Bangkok between order & chaos websiteVery Thai‘s author is interviewed in a new documentary, ‘Bangkok: Megalopolis between Order and Chaos’, which premières on 27 March 2014 on the Swiss TV channel NZZ Format, which is run by the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Presenter/producer Basil Gelpke interviewed Philip Cornwel-Smith about the state of Bangkok and its popular culture during the height of the ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ protests. The crew filmed at his house and then in the Samsen area, including the Wat In community and the hotel Phra Nakorn Norn Len, which has a very Thai-style decor theme resembling an old market.

The show will air in German speaking countries several times over 2014 and 2015. It is also viewable online at:

http://www.nzzformat.ch/108+M521944f5b87.html

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #documentaries #German #interviews #TV #video