When Patcharavipa opened the doors to its first boutique last spring, it did not boast the hallmarks of a typical fine jewellery store. If anything, it felt more like stepping into a quarry – albeit the most polished and brightly-lit one you will ever see. Nestled in the austere Bhakdi Building on Wireless Road, surrounded by antique teak houses like Nai Lert Park Heritage Home, the boutique exudes the pared-down cool that hip multi-label stores like to sport. Slowly but steadily, it is becoming the sort of place frequented by subtle sophisticates and fashion-forward design connoisseurs – rather than grand dames merely out to shop for baubles.
That its founder and designer is a cool, art girl clearly has a hand in that. In a sea of socialites, Patcharavipa “Pat” Bodiratnangkura is rarely decked out in statement-making ensembles, yet catches all eyes anyway for her quiet beauty and effortless allure. The pieces she designs follow suit: they do not beg to be seen and, like its creator, manifests an appreciation for the works of great artists.
Coupled with the textures of nature that the youngest granddaughter of the Park Nai Lert clan also likes to incorporate, Patcharavipa is quite unlike anything that’s usually seen in the fine jewellery market. Think rings inspired by the imaginary union of a tulip and poisonous mushroom, or extremely miniscule zodiac necklaces.
Championing unusual designs, rather than the value of the materials
or stone size, it seems a given that the brand would make its way to prestigious stockists around the world such as Dover Street Market ( London, New York, Singapore), Jeffrey ( USA), Lane Crawford ( Hong Kong), as well as online retailers. Now well into its fifth collection, this year’s Spring/summer offering of “Twisted” delves onto new waters ( literally) and springboards from the stills of famed Japanese photographer and contemporary artist Nobuyoshi Araki.
“This collection was inspired by the photography of Araki – with how he used ropes on women after the WWII period,” Pat explains. “In his work, women were erotic and sensual, with ropes mixed up with their bodies. When I saw his work, I felt that it’s very scary, but beautiful. It’s a beautifully dark image and I have loved his work for a long time. I contrasted that with normal ropes from maritime knots and used the simplicity of rope silhouettes and knots as a starting point for this collection.”
Playing with astoundingly small scales and intricacy, one of the new techniques this season sees strands of 18kt Siam gold getting hand-woven to create a seamless and unending rope-like texture. As a brand that revels in the itty-bitty, these rope-like details meticulously adorn small hoop earrings, bracelets and rings. They are paired with a modest sprinkle of diamonds, or Tzavorites if you go for the black gold edition, but also mother-of-pearl inlays. This is where Patcharavipa takes you out to sea for the first time: mother-of-pearl seashells are cut into the teeniest of pieces and are laid out in a pleasantly attractive mosaic style.
Only upon closer inspection would one see that it beholds the delicate craftsmanship of a masterpiece, despite looking like the sort of piece versatile enough for any occasion.
It’s also something men could easily pick up – this being another standout characteristic of Patcharavipa. “Jewellery is very feminine but I design quite unisex,” says the 27-year-old. “There’s a need in terms of men wanting to wear jewellery. I love to design for people; sometimes I see people and think of things that would suit them. When I do, it turns out to be something anyone can wear.”
Then, there is practicality – another thread that has always run through the collections since she launched her brand in 2014, after graduating from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London. “I want to design items that people can wear everyday,” Pat says of her design ethos. “People want to wear something small – something they don’t need to take off when they go to sleep, like hoop earrings. If not, then they are completely nonsense.”
This explains the fingernail-sized gold shells embedded with precious stones that can also be found in the Twisted collection. Since the first collection of Tiny, where zodiac charms of animals were barely larger than 1cm, it becomes apparent that Patcharavipa still has a penchant for the fun and cheeky. There is no apparent use for these shell objects, lest one would like to splurge on a new Lilliputian fridge magnet.
Pat’s delight shines through as she talks of these objects with a smile.
“I WANT TO DESIGN ITEMS THAT PEOPLE CAN WEAR EVERYDAY”
“At first I called them nonsense objects because it’s so nonsense but it also showcases a new technique. It’s magnetic so you can stick it on your fridge. That’s just so fun. You can easily change it into a stud pin too. Some people wear it as earrings, which is very cute.”
Cute is not usually the word associated with this brand, better known for flaunting organic feels (coconut husk rings) and raw textures (stalactite earrings), but another first for Patcharavipa is their launch of hair clips. Brass-plated with 18kt Siam yellow gold, Pat’s clips come with Russian emeralds or blue diamonds, if not the collection’s main motif of ropes. “It’s childhood-like and brings that sense of security,” she ponders. “There’s ropes on it too but it also ties in with what ropes stand for – which is security and endurance.”
Pat picks up another cute item from the collection which she names as her favorite: the Butterfly Hoop earrings that have petite dangling Briolette- cut diamonds. As she lovingly praises its colour and “super small size”, it becomes clear that she does not see it as mere jewellery, but as a true work of art. She enthusiastically encourages everyone around her to try it on, fully knowing they might not have amy intention of buying anything. “Jewellery like this you need to come look at often and try it on, because when you buy once, it’s something that’s there for a long time. I want people to keep coming back and collect the pieces. I don’t want them to just buy and it’s over. Drop by, even if you just want to look.”