Introducing Simona Meesaiyati, the Winner of Our Bottle Up Your Local Charm Competition.
If people had a super stylish water bottle, maybe they’d buy fewer disposable plastic ones. That was the motivation behind our Bottle Up Your Local Charm competition, in which we challenged you to find inspiration from our new ‘hood, Bangkok’s Chinatown, to decorate our ASAI water bottles. Now we’ve found our winner, we wanted to put her in the spotlight and find out a little more about her design, her creative process and more. Meet Simona:
Tell us about yourself
Hi! I’m a visual artist based here in Bangkok. I specialise in paper cutting but also work on illustrations and paintings. I have a background in communication design and interior design but my main passion lies with art and (cats). Fun facts: I am addicted to reading horror stories but terrified to watch anything remotely scary. I love to bake all kinds of cakes and treats...and eat them too!
How did you become an artist?
I’ve loved art since school, and when I went to Chulalongkorn University for Communication Design, I found every excuse to do paintings, drawings and installations for my projects. I took a gap year before graduating to backpack in Europe, where I met inspiring people, went to amazing exhibitions, and started paper cutting; I haven’t stopped since! It’s challenging, therapeutic and I get to be in my own little bubble.
Which artists, designers and makers have influenced and inspired you?
Off the top of my head, I’d choose Nina Simone for her fearlessness, Adam Savage for his passion and for showing me that science and art are intertwining disciplines—there can’t be one without the other. Also, David Attenborough for his work with the environment (and his iconic voice), and everything about Matisse, especially his use of colours.
Let’s talk about your entry for the campaign.
What drove you to get involved?
I always love when brands reach out to local communities and involve us in creating something great. The campaign itself was very appealing to me, since I love to walk aimlessly around Chinatown whenever I feel uninspired: the busy streets and countless shops always have something new for me to see. Of course, the prize is amazing too: a free vacation!
How did you create your piece?
I took a day trip to the Old Town and wandered around just to get a feel of the neighbourhood, took a few photos and came back to sketch. The idea of a dragon was quite an obvious choice but I didn't want to do the typical Chinese red and gold dragon but rather something that was true to the neighbourhood: a vibrant mix of cultures and colours.
Which part of Chinatown inspired your work the most?
The patterns and the remaining old relics of painted pastel tiles and ceramics that you tend to overlook if you’re just walking past. Beneath the surface of busy Chinatown are layers of its past and if we look closely we can catch a glimpse of it. I used a Chinese dragon because it’s such a recognisable and timeless icon, but then I added the pastel palette twist to it.
What do you think of the art scene in Bangkok?
It’s definitely growing! I don’t go out as much I as I used to, but when I do have a chance to visit exhibitions and shows, I’m excited to see so many new and inspiring artists working with lots of different media.
As a Bangkok local, what’s your favourite city neighbourhood and why?
I love the whole Rattanakosin area: I like to drive to The Old Siam and then just wander around from there. There’s so much to see and do: apart from the obvious tourist attractions, I love the quieter streets and sois that are full of forgotten shops and old townhouses. Since I’ve stopped buying fast fashion, I’ve started visiting the vintage shops there a lot.
What are your plans for the future?
That’s a tough question since I’ve never really been a planner but more of a spontaneous dreamer. Though my love and passion for art and the environment has steered my path in a certain direction that I am super excited about, there are lots of things on my bucket list. I still have yet to travel as much as I hoped; I love nature so at some point I would like to escape the busy city and spend some time somewhere remote, preferably a hut in Scotland where sheep outnumber people.
Where do you like to work in Bangkok?
To be honest, I’m more of a house cat so I prefer staying in to work but sometimes I go out to sit and work with friends.
What’s your ideal day?
It depends on what mood I'm in. I love a quiet day in with my cats but on the other hand, I also enjoy a day out with my boyfriend visiting new cafes and bars. We are both foodies so we like to seek out new places to eat.
What are your favourite dish(es) and drink(s)?
I love food! I eat everything so I can’t say I have a clear favourite but if I were to choose some top dishes they’d include Hainanese chicken rice, spicy mango salad, lamb mutton with garlic naan, and my mum’s lasagna (since I'm half Italian). I could go on and on. As for drinks, a hot latte from Ceresia is my favourite coffee in Bangkok or a G&T or Pina Colada when I'm feeling festive.
Any exciting projects you are working on that you want to share with us?
Yes! Glad you asked! I’m creating a new collection of illustrations, calendars and other art products inspired by beautiful exotic animals that are sadly close to extinction. I plan to donate 10% of all sales to foundations that will help protect and keep those lovely animals well. Please stay tuned!
Describe yourself in three words. (Here’s ASAI Chinatown: Unique gastronomy | Diverging cultures | Historic treasures)
Idealist | Kind spirit | Ever evolving
You’ll be able to see Simona’s winning artwork on the ASAI water bottles, which will be available to buy at soon-to-open ASAI Bangkok Chinatown.
Meanwhile, stay tuned for another challenge at our next location. The next winner could be you.