A chair can express the taste of a homeowner. Each corner of a house might sometimes need a different style of chair to fit with mood and tone. Roongroj Wiriyachon, founder of This is a Chair, once spent years seeking out a chair that was right for his resort but ended up in failure. That point of pain was the origin of his brand.
Roongroj had struggled with midlife crisis for four years, spending all his time watching television while drowning in his thoughts. He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Looking back, he considered himself lucky to have been able to get himself out of that state. Do the thing you love, people told him, but he had no clue as to what it was that he loved to do. At the age of 52, when he was struggling to find his footing, a lesson from a meditation session gave him some insight. It was about finding oneself from the inside and allowing the heart to lead the mind. When he did so, he was reminded of moments in life when he was joyous and happy.
He thought about when he had built his resort. He found himself getting involved in every part of the construction process even though he had no background in the field. That he couldn’t find the right chair just boggled his mind. So, he decided to take his eyes off the television screen and head to Ban Tawai to meet with craft people. He was unclear about the chair he wanted and could not draw. Though he wanted to become involved in the crafting process himself, he had no skills, so he was mostly rejected. It was, Roongroj admits, an unusual request. Eventually, however, one craftsman agreed and allowed him to become involved in the process. “He thought I was nuts and would probably give up soon enough,” said Roongroj laughing.
For Roonroj, however, it was as if he had just entered a new world. Time flew by when he was crafting because he enjoyed it so much — he totally forgot about television. “It’s easier said than done. It really took an effort to let the heart win over the mind and show me the way. A heart that has enough love will give you the strength to get up and do things, to learn and practice. It will shape who you are, no matter how old you are, regardless of whether you have the skill. It’s the heart that matters the most. If you think your heart is right and take it seriously, anything is possible. I believe everyone has a potential for creativity and design to a greater or lesser degree. This is my core work ethic when collaborating with my customers,” said Roongroj.
He has since formed a trusted team who work under the motto “Heart Head Hand.”
“They work with compassion and respect the skills of workers and customers, and they use their heads and hands to create chairs that customers want. They don’t aim to make the most elegant chairs, just chairs that are right,” Roongroj said. “The exhibition space at their showroom is not really a place for customers to visit and just point at something they want. We want them to take part in forming the design concept itself.”
This is a Chair prioritizes collaboration with their slogan “From a Chair to Your Chair”, transforming the simple notion of chair to a chair that is exclusively for you.