Pattaraphan: The Thai-owned Brand Redefining Jewellery with its Genderless Designs
Launching with Mr Porter, Pattaraphan is the genderless jewellery brand that exudes the vibrant spirit of its Thai heritage and is launching this month with Mr Porter. At its helm is Pattaraphan “Nok” Salirathavibhaga, who after studying jewellery design at Pratt, embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in 2018, collaborating closely with local artisans in Thailand.
Nok’s creations have been seen on the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and more. Known for their signature timeless lockets, described by Senior Watches & Jewellery Buyer at Mr Porter as “one of the pillars of the brand, [with its] minimal and sleek design, [its] so easy to wear”, something he states is what originally drew him to the brand.
Speaking to the owner herself, we spoke about her unique approach to design, her affinity for vintage aesthetics and her future plans for the brand.
What is the meaning behind your brand name ‘Pattaraphan’?
My birth name is Pattaraphan, which translates to “beautiful skin” in Thai and though some may struggle with pronouncing it, using my true name to showcase my work felt authentic to me. Using this name aligns with the overall concept and philosophy of my brand, as it is rooted in Thai culture. As much of my work is infused with elements of Thai heritage, it seemed fitting to use my name instead of choosing a more contemporary one.
Can you tell us about how your Thai heritage shows itself in your work?
Her previous collection, titled “Tusk,” was inspired by the elephant – our national animal in Thailand. However, with the rise of tourism, elephants are now facing new challenges, such as being ridden and tortured. The collection serves as a commentary on the treatment of our national animal. It features a sculptural, deconstructed elephant tusk that is deeply tied to our culture. In the past, elephants were even featured on our national flag, which used to be entirely red with a white elephant on top.
A piece from my collection called the ‘Ying Bracelet’ is named after my paternal grandmother. It was inspired by traditional Thai jewellery in terms of the shape, so I took it and modernised it in a playful way by rearranging the stones and incorporating black saphires.
How and why did you get into jewellery making?
When I look back, it all makes sense now. I remember being a kid and sneaking into my grandma’s jewellery drawer to try on her rings. I forgot about that memory until recently, but it’s crazy to think how jewellery has been a part of human culture for thousands of years, all for the sake of looking good. Being a part of the industry is pretty cool because I get to make people feel good about themselves. It’s not just about coming up with concepts and ideas; it’s about turning those ideas into real pieces that people can wear and feel amazing in. I’ve had friends and clients reach out to me, saying how great they feel when they wear my jewellery, and that’s when I know I’ve done my job. Of course, it’s a form of expression for me, but at the end of the day, it’s about what my work adds to the world. And if I can help people feel good, that makes me happy.
How do you work with your local artisans?
Yes, we actually work with two different factories. One of them is run by a women, and all the people who work there have been in the industry for ages. The other is a family business that’s been around for three generations. They’re both small and independent, so we’re definitely not working with any massive production companies. I think it’s pretty awesome that we get to be so hands-on with them. In fact, right before I called you, I was on a call with one of the guys from the factory going over some new pieces he sent me. They’re located right in the heart of Bangkok, so they’re just a quick 10-minute car ride away if there’s no traffic. Being able to work with them so closely and solve problems together is really great.
Can you tell me about the process of designing a piece and how you take it to the artisans to create it?
When it comes to creating some of my pieces, I really just draw and draw until I finally know what I want. Like with the tusk collection, I knew I wanted to incorporate tusks, so I kept drawing until I had a clear idea. Sometimes the pieces come out exactly how I want them, and the artisans I work with help me make some minor adjustments to ensure they fit perfectly on the body. But other times, like with the hook earrings, I had a rough idea but it wasn’t fully formed yet. The artisans created a wax version of it, and we worked together to figure out how to make it work on the body. There was something sticking out, but it actually helped keep the earring securely in place on the ear. So it’s really a process of having an idea, drawing it out, and then tweaking things with the artisans to make sure it works.
For the mushroom piece, I drew out everything and worked closely with one of the guys who specialises in CAD. We sat together and made adjustments until it looked exactly how I wanted it to. And you know what? It’s the little details that sometimes seem insignificant that people end up loving the most. At the end of the day, it’s a mix of creativity, trial and error, and collaboration with the artisans to create something truly special.
Can you tell us how working with Mr Porter has helped your design process?
I feel like I’m now able to explore a wider range of stone offerings. Initially, we had only a few stones available, but based on feedback from our customer base, they prefer more fashionable and easier-to-wear pieces. We couldn’t just add something that was too over-the-top or lavish. However, we recently introduced a new piece that features a pavé circle design, which has allowed us to incorporate different colours since I’m not someone who typically works with a lot of colour. Now we’re able to use more stones and add more colours to our designs.
Pattaraphan’s approach of using their cultural heritage as a muse for their jewellery designs , demonstrates the potential benefits of embracing one’s origins. By seamlessly blending customary motifs into modern pieces, Pattaraphan has forged a distinctive and significant brand persona that strongly connects with its customer base. The brand’s success attests to the fact that drawing from one’s heritage can stimulate imaginative thinking and originality in our work.