Fenn’s Chafia Ferhat is taking firm steps to open doorways for young designers. Wynn A. Bay reports from Bangkok.
4 January, 2013
Dr Chafia Ferhat is the CEO and Creative Design Director of Fenn Designers – a 5-year-old full-service design practice in Bangkok. Ferhat founded the practice, having called Bangkok home for the past 20 years. “I started off in Bangkok with RMJM in 1991, and have been all over the world doing projects of many sizes,” she says.
Design for Alliance Française Thailand’s education and cultural centre
When she decided to start her own practice, she had one important goal in her mind: to create a practice with a non-corporate size that would be “absolutely design orientated”. Thus, she has kept the practice to a maximum size of 30 people to more succinctly maintain the sincerity of the company’s design direction.
Fenn’s projects to date have stretched across Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, and cover master planning, architecture of all sizes, interior design, exhibition design, and transport work. “We also have a future plan to expand into the field of product design,” notes Ferhat.
Design for Centrepoint commercial development in Gurgaon, New Delhi
Regardless of the size or location of the project, Ferhat’s passion for design will always have her getting her hands dirty on the drawing board and being involved in every step and detail of the project.
While building Fenn, Ferhat has also been busily laying the path for the next design generation. She has elected to contribute to positive change and share her experience and knowledge with the design community as much as possible.
Design for Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre, Phase 2 development
As an academic, she knows the importance of education. As well as Fenn’s “Friday lunch n’ learn” sessions for her own staff, she has also founded the Asia Conference for Education (ACE) – a yearly event that incorporates an extended design workshop and conference to generate discussion about issues that will matter in the future. Recent topics have included future education models and the hotel room of the future.
To further encourage the passion of young designers in Thailand and beyond, she has also set up the Fenn Young Designers Award (FYDA) – the first ever non-profit, independent design competition generated in Thailand. It is open to creative minds aged from 18 to 33 who are active in the fields of architecture, interior design, product design, graphic design, fashion design, photography and painting. There is only one rule for the competition: no rule.
Views of the 2012 FYDA award night in December
“We have been running the competition for the past 4 years,” says Ferhat, “and this year has been very successful. We attracted 280 entries from 57 countries.” In 2012, the competition asked entrants to interpret ‘organic’. Cash prizes were awarded.
At the award night in December, the international team of jurors (from the disciplines of architecture, fashion, music and photography) celebrated the experimental nature of the winning work and its capacity to generate discussion and debate.
Work by 2012 FYDA winner Mina Kim from Sydney
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