You might expect the middle child of Muang Thai Life Assurance’s Photipong and Yupha Lamsam to have entered the family business, like her siblings, Nualphan and Sara, did. But Wannaporn Phornprapha has always been a free spirit—someone that defies expectations and is happier following her own path. “I’m very fortunate that my parents gave me the freedom to do what I want and to pursue my passions,” smiles the 48-year-old.
As a child, her career aspirations shifted; one day she wanted to be a painter, the next day a librarian. Ultimately, this appreciation for the arts led her to study architecture at Chulalongkorn University. “At one point during my years as a design student, I considered becoming a writer instead,” she tells us. She had the opportunity to meet SEA Write Award-winning writer Vanich Charungkij-anant, who had even agreed to train her. “But then I realised I wasn’t a good writer,” she laughs. “I was then convinced that designing was a more enjoyable approach for me to put across my enthusiasm for the arts and science.”
Wannaporn chose to explore landscape architecture and later pursued a master’s degree in the field at Harvard Graduate School of Design. “It’s a much broader concept, a multidisciplinary profession that involves more than just design, but also areas such as environmental science, ecology and sociology,” she says. After a short spell at Belt Collins in Thailand and a few personal projects, Wannaporn eventually set up her own design studio, P Landscape, in 1997. “India’s Oberoi Group was our first hospitality and international client, and from there it led to many more,” she shares. Most of the firm’s works are in Asia, but the portfolio also includes projects in North Africa, Europe and the Fiji Islands. “In addition, our ventures have also included urban design, restorations of historic sites and public landscaping.”
While her hobbies change over time—currently she’s into running and the occasional mini-marathon—Wannaporn has found a new passion. “When designers begin their career, they’re all especially keen on creating works. I had a lot of fun doing that for 20 years, but now what I also enjoy doing is creating platforms for other young talents to do the same,” she shares. Taking inspiration from her loved ones, the top three things she values in life are relationships, integrity and freedom. “Career-wise, my interior designer aunt, Rujiraporn Wanglee, was my mentor. And I also learn a lot from my parents,” she says. “My father has always been a fighter, one with great humour, while my mother takes her responsibilities very seriously. I sometimes need to remind myself to be more like her, because I tend to follow my heart when I do things.”
Her days off are usually spent with her family. “My 18-year-old daughter, Warinyupa, is now in California for her first year at Pomona College. So it’s just my husband and me at home now.” Wannaporn and her significant other, business consultant Pramoad, have been married for 21 years. “He’s a simple and honest man, and I admire how much effort he puts into everything he does,” she smiles. Like her parents, they’re also letting their daughter choose her own career path. “She just called me this morning about wanting to switch majors to environmental science, with a concentration on food.”
When asked whether she has a bucket list, she gestures to the mood boards on her walls. “I’ve been trying to finish a book showcasing P Landscape’s works for many years already. And I would like to finish it next year, if possible,” she shares. “Another one, which would require me to take a few months off, is to travel the world. I still have Patagonia, some parts of Eastern Europe, Mongolia and French Polynesia on my checklist.”