Material ConneXion, which offers physical and online libraries of innovative materials, opened its first Asian office Nov. 14 in Bangkok, while continuing to try to establish a presence elsewhere in the region.
The Thai facility joins offices in Milan, Italy, and Cologne, Germany, as a licensee of the New York-based company that George M. Beylerian founded in 1997. In a Nov. 3 telephone interview, Beylerian credited the progress in Thailand in large part to support from the highest levels of government there.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Khun Pansak Vinyaratn, chairman of the government's Thailand Creative and Design Center, paid an official visit Sept. 17 to Material ConneXion's New York headquarters in Manhattan and toured the 7,500-square-foot materials library there.
The TCDC is providing state-of-the-art facilities to house the new Bangkok venture, including a multimedia resource center, meeting spaces, exhibit space and support for conferences and workshops. Beylerian said the center also spent $4 million to purchase a collection of books - related to all aspects of design - that will be kept on site.
The Thai facility initially will house 600 materials samples, according Chaiyong Ratana-ung-goon, president of Material ConneXion Bangkok, but that total will grow steadily. Each month, a jury of professionals meets to evaluate new materials candidates and accepts only the best and most innovative.
``Thailand certainly is going to make a mark in worldwide design communities, and will make a big impact on material developments in the Asian community,'' Beylerian said.
Material ConneXion bills itself as ``the world's largest global resource of new materials,'' and has catalogued some 2,200 entries and more than 3,500 physical samples into eight categories: polymers, glass, ceramics, metals, carbon-based materials, cement-based materials, natural materials and natural material derivatives. The subscription-based service also offers information on virtual samples online at www.materialconnexion.com.
Meanwhile, Beylerian said his firm has plans to expand more internationally. ``We're continuing discussions to open an office in Hong Kong,'' he said, while declining to offer further details. He also mentioned Singapore, Sweden and Turkey as other potential sites for licensee offices.
The company also just published a new book that it claims ``connects materials to designers' needs.'' In each of its seven main sections, the highly illustrated book - called simply Material ConneXion - identifies trends and helps design professionals select materials with the most potential for specific projects.