Hubert Burda Media

Modern-day Storyteller: Mali Chulakiet

Tucked away along downtown Sukhumvit, down a winding street, are studios founded by Mali Chulakiet – a professional "storyteller" of sorts.

Mali Chulakiet; Outfit by DVF, Jewellery by Pomellato; Photography by Virunan Chiddaycha

She’s part entrepreneur…

Mali is managing director and one of the founders of be>our>friend (BOF), a self-described “playground for like-minded individuals” that works primarily on branding and has two offshoots: friend>on>site (FOS) and Digifriend (DGF), headed by two other co-founders of be>our>friend studio (Nat Luenthaisong and Pom Jitpratak).

 … and part artist

Mali also helped found Likaybindery with Phantipa Thanchookiet, a bindery that serves as an outlet for their passion for book art (“Li” is Mali’s nickname and “Kay” is Phantipa’s).

 “Likaybindery was begun as both myself and Kay were interested in bookbinding. Each of us collected items like book binding tools, paper, and various ephemera... It started off with binding notebooks, with ephemera like the cards used in radio communications (documents that recorded radio communications), or vintage etchings. We would cut these elements and do various things to them, and create notebooks out of them – which would then sell out every time,” she says. Each book is traceable, thanks to a unique serial number.

On her 2015 exhibition

“This exhibition ["Reading the (In)habitant" at Koi Gallery] is part of Kay and me wanting to understand what we are doing. It’s a re-investigation of myself, an attempt to understand life and what I do. It’s part of learning and understanding what I am and what I do...” she says.

She enjoys the journey

“Studio work is not purely about passion... Branding is not about us, it’s about our client, and how what they’re trying to communicate is in response to their own customers. We are just the link that helps them realise that communication. It’s the client’s identity, not mine,” she says. “But does it encompass my passion? Yes, because when our clients are able to communicate with their customers, it makes me happy. The process of creating that communication tool makes me happy. The process of slowly seeing something be realised, that process makes me happy.”

A philosophy of teamwork

Mali says she considers her team’s happiness as important as her own. “I give a great deal of importance to teamwork. I give credit to the team. I might be the one to initiate things, but nothing can be done just by myself. It’s my work philosophy - to give credit and respect to others…” she says simply. “If the team is happy, I’m happy too.”

She strives to remain humble and optimistic

From her husband Jark she has learned a relentless optimism, which she now applies to her own life, “He’s always grateful for everything that happens in his life. If something bad happens, he is grateful that it isn’t worse than it is.”

Mali’s parents have also long played influential roles on her personal and professional values as well. For one, there is their constant support of her work. They also taught her from a young age to treat others well.

“My parents taught me a lot about respecting people. Everyone has something to teach me, and everyone is more knowledgeable than me about something, no matter what it is. Respecting others allows me to learn from them and humble myself. When you are humble, you allow yourself to learn from others,” she says.

Photography Credits

Photography: Virunan Chiddaycha

Stylish: Saranya Ariyakul

Makeup Artist: Nichakan Sungwian

Hair Stylist: Thanon Songsil

Venue: The House on Sathorn, W Bangkok