CxD at Better City Better Life – Cumulus 2010


The United States is currently at a crossroad where the transitions between its past, present and future are being articulated. Cities from around the country are challenged in unprecedented ways at the beginning of this 21st century. The American urban model, developed around cars, highways, and vast suburbs, is slowly exhausting its promises for a better life while poor planning has made cities incredibly obsolete. In this time of crisis, many places have to learn how to become relevant again.
At a global level, many people are asking what makes a city great. Are great cities those that provide unforgettable experiences? Or are they places that manage to seamlessly bind the way they look with the way they work? How should they balance both tradition and modernity?
This paper shows, through best practice examples collected during a 30-city tour, the various roles that designers play in this time of urban transformation. It also questions the implications linked to historic preservation and the relevance of both old and new ideas in urban environments.

Link | Cumulus 2010 at Shanghai

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How does culture define our relationship to the world? How does the world define our relationship to culture? On 23 August, I will share some thoughts, observations and tiny local examples that shed some light on this very global topic at ENGAGE / MAKMAL Forum x George Town Festival 2014.

[Edits] Handmade Stories 2

Editing this precious new collection made in collaboration with Lao kids last April. This is ahead of a presentation about ‘cultural influence’ in George Town, Malaysia (23 August 2014), and a case study which I am preparing to write for the UNDG on ‘Culture and Education’. Items will also be sold online at to raise funds toward creative education at Phoudindaeng Youth Center.

A CRAFTED project. Textiles provided by NOMA t.d. Tokyo, Japan.

[Work in Progress] LANDSCAPE

A landscape punctuated with my travel notes from the past 4 years…

[VisualDiary] Singapore

The evening sky tells me that beauty is unpredictable.


Field trip to witness papermaking and textiles made from paper mulberry at POSA Handicraft Center in Houay Pamom, Laos. See more at CRAFTED

[Work in Progress]

Sneak preview of Handmade Stories Vol 2 catalogue: original interpretations of NOMA textile design by kids from Phoudindaeng Youth Center, and a few local “spices” added to the mix! [Creative direction by CRAFTED] We are glad to announce that the first collection’s catalogue has reached 93000 views on issuu!

[Landscape Journal] Vangvieng

My dining area is officially gone since the watercolours are out… A myriad of ways to paint a landscape, and right now I’m testing my painting skills again. My plan is to create a 16×182 cm journal filled with connecting landscapes. 26 pages in total… and all this led me to think of acquiring a piece of secluded tropical land to built my art studio on…

[VisualDiary] Le Marais, Paris

[VisualDiary] Changi Airport

Journey to a familiar place, my childhood DNA. It’s been a year and a half since my last visit but people often say that Paris never changes. Paris doesn’t change, only my life is permanently changing

Open Suitcase

The biggest consolation after a journey spent on the road is to open my suitcase, reminisce the moments and people encountered. while mentally shaping tomorrow’s chapters.

// This time, I recall the textile salesman who moved to VangVieng from Sam Neua with a collection of vintage Lao Lum textiles that can no longer be commonly found (1+6). He eagerly explained the difference in quality between textiles from the past decade and the current ones. A sad reminder that much has been lost within just 10 years, and in my personal view, the confirmation that cultural preservation must take place through renewed creative practices.

// While sourcing textile for fashion company NOMA t.d. (2), I discover an unusual fabric made from Posa trees, native of Laos and currently grown in the village of Houey Pamom as part of a capacity-building initiative called FORCAP that focuses on sustainable agriculture and forestry (3).

// A few days later, I encounter a community of weavers from Ban Phonsung comprising several generations of makers (4). In this instance, I once again witness the elimination of local cotton and silk by a production/distribution model that diminishes the value of craftworkers. A brief exchange with them motivates me to imagine new possibilities between fair trade business practices and cutting-edge fashion design.

// Traditional Recipes from Laos is a book I had often thought of purchasing. It gathers a collection of local recipes by Phia Sing, a revered chef at the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang (5)  This book is most likely the only written record of Lao culinary heritage and captures locality through illustrated descriptions of plants, vegetables, fruits, and objects used in the recipes.

// I could not leave Laos without stopping by the morning market in Vientiane to collect colourful pieces  for the next Handmade Stories exhibition at the Karuizawa Art Museum in Japan (7).

[Workshop] Secret World at Phoudindaeng Youth Center, Laos

In April, CRAFTED led the Secret World workshop at the Phoudindaeng Youth Center in Laos. This is the second chapter of Handmade Stories, a collaborative project involving international creators and Lao communities. This time we were given support from NOMA t.d., a fashion and textile design company based in Tokyo. See more pictures of the new collection on Facebook. Special thanks to Takuma & Masako Sasaki –

[coming soon]

The imagination is a secret world…

With the support of NOMA t.d., Tokyo, Japan, and in collaboration with Phoudindaeng Youth Center, Laos.



The last time I read Seneca, I was a 17 year old philosophy major in French high school, scored 5/20 in my dissertation for the baccalaureate, nearly failing the general exam. Twenty years later, I find his words again…

The Story Behind Handmade Stories





This conversation took place one rainy September evening. It was only several years later that I made my way to Laos for the first time. The time in between was used to form many fictitious images of the place in my head, including how watching the sunrise would actually feel like. Laos, back then, was a country I could barely locate in Asia and it seemed very unreal… Like a dream.

The genesis of the project CRAFTED (“because local culture is the global future”) was strongly inspired by my first visit to Laos in 2012. Like many others, I was struck by the natural beauty of the place, the gentleness of its people, but also became infatuated with the effortless sense of local style. The level of sophistication in textile making, basketry, the tasteful combination of colours and textures, were far beyond my expectations. I quickly came to learn that Laos is a rare gem for crafts in Southeast Asia and, in fact, is known to have a level of craftsmanship that is unique in the world. This encouraged me to introduce the work of brilliant “non design” makers within the context of contemporary design and human development. And so CRAFTED was born.

Besides the sheer beauty of the place and the products, Laos also revealed itself to me as vulnerable in this age of globalization. Its local cultural assets are endangered, and some have already disappeared because of a changing society. Of course, all societies have to change, as ways of life are shaped to be improved, but how can people keep their local cultural practices alive and retain their amazing cultural wealth for the future? I believe that Laos’ biggest asset is its culture but the country may be lacking access to creative thinking, an element that could strongly benefit local communities.

In a country where basic education still remains a challenge, creative education can only seem like a luxury. And yet, the biggest misunderstanding about creativity is that it is optional or secondary. This project is a modest attempt to introduce creativity as an equal right to all individuals. Because we are all born creative and with plenty of imagination. I want the next generation of Lao people to be able to live in a world of their own making.

Read full article in The Makers Journal by HAYSTAKT