For our April issue, Prestige sat down with Quattro Design co-founder and design director of The Premier Group Vichada “Dao” Sitakalin (most famously responsible for the Rayavadee, Krabi) at The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s recently renovated Author’s Wing.
What inspired you to become an interior designer?
It was the appreciation of the little things, and I absorbed all of it. My grandmother would call me over, "Dao, come and see! The orchid is finally blooming!"
It was the little things that made her happy. It makes me, knowing how to appreciate the little, simple things – like the flowers blooming – we'd go like, "Oh, it's blooming already?" It is something that – to this day – whenever I think of my grandma, it comes to mind.
Quattro Design, since it grew from sourcing, must truly know the market.
We understand the market very well. We expanded doing not only hotels but private residences, doing commercial offices. We even got to do a bank – we just got to do Kiatnakin Bank in CentralWorld customising all their furniture. We even did a few parts of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok. We worked with an interior design company and sourced all of the artwork for the bamboo bar and some of the rooms in this wing. We did some of the framework for a few of the rooms – not this room [the Royal Suite’s conservatory] – but the other rooms like the office lounge.
Is sustainability important to you?
Sustainability is very important to me. I appreciate culture. I appreciate crafts. I appreciate antiques. I appreciate the old way. In the olden days, people were actually much better at sustainability than us. The way they thought about things – "organic" is a concept that has been around from the olden days.
We're going back to a better future right now. People are more aware of "organic", the old ways and herbal medicines… The people from the olden days, whether it's design or architecture – they pay attention to the details…
The exhibitions that we're doing [at Tamarind Village Chiang Mai], everything must be related to Lanna culture. Every exhibition has to tie into the values of the hotel: the sustainability of the Lanna culture. So we've done many concepts – the latest is textiles…
It seems like family is a very important value in your life.
Family is the most important foundation. I'm glad that my kids are getting to grow up in the same environment as I did, surrounded by family.
We still keep the family experience of seeing each other every weekend and hanging out. It's a good thing and it's important for children to be growing up with their elders – their grandparents – because they absorb good manners, etiquette and so on. It's the most important thing that they pass down the values.
Tell us about this Ajarn you recently met?
The architect I'm working with introduced this Ajarn to me, because at one point I was quite stressed with work. I was, thinking I was not doing it well enough, that I'm not handling it well. I had so much work that I couldn't get done. I had my kids, and I felt like I didn't have enough time for them. I was really juggling, but all in all it's in my head.
Part of being a perfectionist is that it's good, but you need to let go. Because if you don't let go, it comes back to you. And you're the only person suffeirng.
And when I met this monk, he taught me not meditation, but taught me to look into my mind and concentrate. You breathe in, and you feel the air going into your chest, and you concentrate on your breathing. And once you become aware, it cuts out whatever you're thinking. It recentres you.
Also the teaching that says – not that I'm changing religion, I'm still Catholic), that's the wisdom that I've learned from Buddhism – it made me realise that thoughts are very powerful, and it's natural to have these thoughts. But you have to know how to get rid of them. Don't indulge in those thoughts, don't think of what's past, don't think of what's not. Think of the present and think of doing the best today. So 6 months only, it really changed me.
Photographer: Vatcharasith Wichyanrat
Stylist: Pilan Sriveerakul
Makeup Artist: Nichakan Sungwian
Hair Stylist: Anchalee Seehawanlop
Venue: The Grand Royal Suite, Author’s Wing of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok