After majoring in ceramics and graduating from the Faculty of Decorative Arts, Silpakorn University, Natthapol “Mick” Wannaporn found himself unable to earn a steady income, so he decided to continue studying at Chiang Mai University, shifting focus to Media Art and Design and then beginning a career in marketing communications. Spending much time working on a computer, he would find he often missed sculpting clay and the sense of its touch on his hands. He would dream of returning to Chiang Mai to set up his own small ceramic studio where he could spend the rest of his life crafting. As handicrafts gained popularity in the market, he increasingly felt he could turn his dream into reality, especially when he learned that two friends shared a similar vision. This motivated the three of them — Mick, Maii, and Bub — to establish Charm-Learn Studio in 2013.
They set up the studio in Prang Sanphasart, an old neighborhood near the Chao Pho Suea Shrine on Tanao Road in Bangkok. Aside from selling their works, they also organized public workshops. Their brand name Charm-Learn was inspired by an antique set of tableware made in the reign of King Rama V. Its exquisite pattern has the Thai word “เจริญ” (charoen) on it, which means progress, while the word “ชาม” (charm) means bowl. By combining these words, they created “ชามเริญ”, a two-syllable word that sounds close to “charm” and “learn” in English. Hence, the name Charm-Learn Studio, which implies the charm of learning at the studio, which offers classes in pottery and art.
Charm-Learn Studio home décor products and table wares have a unique aesthetic that hints at Thai culture and lifestyle. Some of their designs are adaptations from traditional items, such as the Pinto lunch box or Oliang coffee set. The nostalgic feeling that brings back memories of the past is part of their charm.
While running the studio in Bangkok, Natthapol also pursued setting up a studio in Chiang Mai, his hometown, as was his original dream. He spent three years traveling back and forth between the two cities until, in 2019, he finally moved back to set up and run Charm-Learn Studio Chiang Mai, letting his friends run the Bangkok studio. Both studios work with one another to supply products and organize workshops.
Natthapol expects his Chiang Mai studio to be a place that brings people, community and society together, welcoming all kinds of arts. The two studios provide residencies for artists and crafters, and in the future, Natthapol plans to have a handicraft shop and restaurant serving local northern food. His motto is Handmade, Homemade and Haomade. “Hao” in the northern dialect means “we/us” — Natthapol aims to create craftworks with people in his local community.
In addition to tableware, Natthapol’s work involves creating interior designs, landscape designs and sculptures. Some of the works he creates are just for fun, depending on what inspires him, but his foundation is in his culture, which he wants to pass on to the next generation through his work. “My works are like a private journal. When I look back at each item and each collection, I am reminded of my old self, my thoughts and my state at that time,” said Natthapol.