Why not? An expression, perhaps reserved for the bold, which happens to be a word we’d use to describe Thai design collective, Greyhound. This time, the fashion brand weaves their street-style aesthetic into the world of home furnishings, led by that rallying cry, an audacious but humble challenge to the status quo. What we get is the SAMMANKOPPLA collection, a limited collaboration with IKEA that’s inspired by the streets of Bangkok — and it looks hella fresh, indeed.
“Simple doesn’t have to be boring,” says Greyhound co-founder Bhanu Inkawat, of their “why not” philosophy. In an interview with the visionary, he also elaborates, “Greyhound is all about twisting the simplicity of basic things. We love basic things, we love simple things in life, and we believe that simple things don’t have to be boring. By adding creativity into everyday life, you bring out the fun in your life.”
This ideology has been dutifully applied to the highly eclectic collection, in the form of chair “sweaters”, scaffolding-like furniture, plastic bottle lamps, and modern interpretations of traditional Thai elements, to bring us that iconic Greyhound twist. In short, the idea of clean Scandinavian-style design is turned on its head, and we’re totally here for it.
A collaboration three years in the making, this also marks the first time Greyhound is doing a full home collection. Inkawat tells us that he and his team were first presented with this brief: to create a collection with an “open, problem-solving” mindset, one that’s also ideal for small space living. They then came up with a tongue-in-cheek IKEA catalogue, filled with distinct examples of the Thai ethos. A beat-up chair that’s still standing thanks to the owner’s innovative combination of materials? Messy wires and scaffolding? All the chaos and imperfections of street living were embraced by the designers, and lovingly reinterpreted into contemporary designs.
You’ll notice the scaffolding aesthetic incorporated into furniture that’s flexible, affixed with castors so you can wheel them about when you want to organise your room in a different way. Or, a key piece of the collection, the Chair Cover, or “sweater for chair”, inspired by the habit of people leaving their jackets on the backseats of chairs. Here, not only is the slouchy look infinitely cool, the functional piece also has pockets on the side and back, for you to stash away modern gadgets.
Then, there’s the idea of floor living, a concept that’s familiar to Asians this side of the world, but perhaps less common in the Western world. That feeling of utter relief when you get home and lounge on a comfy pouf, or sitting cross-legged on the floor opposite your friends, indulging in heart-to-heart conversations past 2AM? Greyhound recognises this, and combines it with an intrepid desire to introduce “floor living” to the world. The triangular floor cushion, found in markets across Southeast Asia, is updated with a graphic design and a modern silkscreen technique, and instead of traditional straw mats, we’re introduced to durable new ones made out of recycled plastic.
Top all that with an eye towards sustainability, and you’re looking at a collection that expertly balances the traditional Thai way of life with our desire for forward-looking living. Greyhound takes an unflinching look at Thai culture, embraces it, and presents to us a heartfelt collection that creatively interprets the most novel facets of Thai living — this is a collaboration that deserves to be celebrated, loved, and lived in.
How would you describe the collection, in three words or phrases?
“I’d say, streets of Bangkok with a twist, because that’s one thing we were inspired by. Style with sustainable consciousness. And the third one, simply, why not? Why not ask, why not?”
Why, why not?
“Greyhound is all about twisting the simplicity of basic things. We love basic things, we love simple things in life, and we believe that simple things don’t have to be boring. By adding creativity into everyday life, you bring out the fun into your life. When we do that, it sometimes surprises people, or sounds like a crazy idea where they go “oh, what is that and what has it got to do with this?”. We thought, why not?
If you walk around the streets of Thailand, it’s full of “anything goes”. You see this beside that, and they have nothing to do with each other, and it’s such a chaotic place that people love to come back to. Same to the customer, we want them to think, why not put this in your apartment? These are not big essential items, but fun elements you add to your space to make it fun and alive — so why not?”
Which item best expresses the Greyhound aesthetic?
“This. We are a fashion company, hence, the “sweater for chair”. When the team first came up with this idea, it sounded so crazy, who would buy it? But if you think about it, by putting this sweater onto an old chair at home, you suddenly make it fresh and fun again. Especially in the West, during winter, you suddenly have a warm seat to sit in.”
From the bags and accessories to the “chair sweater”, there’s the idea of mixing fashion with furniture. How did that come about?
“Greyhound is a street-style brand anyway, so we are influenced by everything around us on the street, everyday lifestyle. Even though we’ve been designing clothes for a long time, we haven’t yet done any furniture. But if you don’t look at it from the technical side of things, why not? It’s the same with fashion. You put on clothes in a mix-and-match way — sometimes, mismatched to create a certain look. For your house or apartment as well. Bring in something that may not fit perfectly. Imperfect may now be perfect.”
Which product took the longest time to create?
“Every piece has its own memory of difficult times. It took us three years from the first day we started on the project, and there are so many things we had to go through — there’s a certain standard to meet, from the way we work with the factory, to the selection of materials, and all these are well-controlled by IKEA.
The Chair Cover demonstrates that. We sell it as one piece, the sweater on its own, and you can put it on any chair you like at home. By doing that, we had to design a pattern that would fit most chairs. We included a side zipper, and on top of that, combined it with knitwear to make it more special, which meant that its production got even more complicated. We go through multiple rounds of these, until we arrive at the final product you see here.”
On the plastic bottle lamps — how did Greyhound come up with that idea, and why is sustainability so important in this collection?
“From the start of the collection, we wanted to look at what “Thai-ness” we can bring into the collection — there are a few things, like their lifestyle, the old wisdom of Thai people, their habits.
For the lamp, we arrived at the idea from Thai people’s habit of not easily throwing things away. If you walk around the streets of Bangkok, you’ll see, for example, a broken chair with 3 legs, with the 4th leg being a plastic bucket — it’s still being used! This is the way of life Thai people believe in, why throw away something when it can still be used?
That happens to fit with the new movement that the new generation believes in — to recycle, reuse and repurpose. Even though the lamps not made out of old containers, but recycled plastic, it’s a reminder for us to think before we throw things away.”
Here’s the full collection:
IKEA SAMMANKOPPLA Limited Collection, in collaboration with Greyhound. From $1.90 to $129, available at ikea.sg and IKEA stores.