The intersection of ratchaprasong bustles with vitality: the cars, the music from the Erawan shrine, and the people, jostling past each other like waves on the nearby skywalk. Stepping inside the hushed interior of Gaysorn Village, one is suddenly transported into another dimension, the luxurious mall reminiscent of Émile Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames. Looking down, the scene expands as the escalator glides smoothly upwards. Meeting Korakot Srivikorn, executive director of Gaysorn Village and her team, we walk to Diamond Closet where our interview is to take place. She is wearing a dark fitted suit—the perfect image of a modern working woman. Poised, her posture is neat but relaxed as she leans on the side of an armchair and tells us her story.
(Behind the scenes: Decanter Banter With Korakot Srivikorn)
Sent to the UK when she was almost nine, Korakot was educated at the prestigious Cobham Hall school for girls in Kent. She then pursued an undergraduate degree in constructed textiles followed by a master’s in textiles at the Royal College of Art. After her graduation, the heir to Gaysorn Property didn’t immediately return home to join the family business but stayed to gain experience with Solveig Hill Designs in London, where she worked alongside other designers in colour and trend forecasting. When she did return to Thailand, Korakot joined as a designer at Satin Textiles before a stint with P49 & Associates as an interior designer. “I worked mostly on the soft-finishings, putting the whole concept together following what the interior designers had envisioned, sourcing materials, the right colours and things like that.”
Through these experiences, she developed a keen eye for detail and trends, a quality that stood her in good stead when she eventually moved to work for Gaysorn Property in 1993. The transition happened smoothly for Korakot and the shift from being in the design field to marketing and management was a very organic process. “It started off with textile design which naturally shifted into forecasting colours, then into interior design. At the time I joined the family business we were developing Gaysorn back then, and so we were also looking at interior design, at the colours. It was still about interaction and spatial experience.” When asked whether she had any difficulties adjusting to the business side of things, she smiles. “You learn along the way, and when you have passion for it, you enjoy it and it doesn’t feel laborious. It becomes something that you evolve into,” she pauses. “On the commercial side, of course you have to look at the numbers as well, that’s part of the business. You study how things work, you take courses, you listen, you read, and you improve. It’s about building your knowledge in different areas, particularly in those where you know you are weak. Because I started young, it was this cycle of learning and improving. And it never ends, this is what you constantly do.”
Does she miss being a designer? “Yes, I do, but I haven’t given it up entirely,” she laughs. “I have a passion for my job but also for what I studied, and when you have passion for something it becomes your driving force.” Perceiving the world with an open mind, Korakot embraces the two sides of herself. “Things change and evolve. You build on everything that is you, especially in the creative field—everything can be adapted and applied.” She explains that with marketing it’s not just about the products, essentially it’s about the personal experience. “It’s very holistic. I see it as curating the whole gamut of spatial design, the brand mix, and the services we offer to customers in order to provide a refined experience that enhances their lifestyle.”
She also notes that people are more globally connected. In a digital ea where the flux of transformation is rapid and online shopping has grown exponentially, one can no longer focus solely on the spatial experience of being in the mall. “Nowadays people see you offline where they meet you in person in a specific location, and they see you online as well. The increase of these touch points changes the way people consume stories, especially in the retail business, of what we have to offer. It’s become a complex bundle of experiences that one must be aware of.” Up to date with today’s ever-changing social interactions, Korakot saw the paradoxical nature of the system. The shift to online activities, particularly online shopping, means that personal interactions have become somewhat of a luxury. With Gaysorn Village set to celebrate its opening this month, she has responded to the changing social landscape by combining the two aspects. “We have an online concierge, with wine sommeliers, watch ambassadors and specialists whom you can contact online and arrange to meet in person. We put a lot of emphasis on this because we know that people still want to know the stories behind the craftsmanship.”
In addition, the extension that includes office buildings will host a whole new community of working professionals and entrepreneurs. “The future is not about working in your cubicle anymore. That’s reflected in our offices where everything is open plan. We’re in an age where one can work anywhere with a computer. That’s what Gaysorn Village offers: a place where you can meet, where you can be inspired and enjoy different corners in which to work and play.” With everything changing so rapidly, however, Korakot talks about thinking ahead, especially when it comes to development projects. “You’re planning ahead over so many years to ensure that you remain relevant to changing lifestyles. You have to constantly keep tabs on what’s going on.”
Having grown up in the Ratchaprasong district, which her father and aunts played a part in developing, Korakot feels deeply connected with the area. Over the years she has been part of the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA), an organisation that works in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to develop the district. “It’s really about connectivity and collaborations. Infrastructure-wise we are connected physically. We also collaborate on campaigns to promote Bangkok and Ratchaprasong as a destination. This area is the heart of the city and we would like to put it on a par with other international destinations. By providing accessibility and security through collaborations with the others in the RSTA, we offer safe excursions so guests can enjoy the district. Say, if a problem occurs, our concierge will co-ordinate with the RSTA security team. It gives guests a sense of comfort and security.”
The issue of gender politics has never deterred Korakot as a working woman. Noting that there are many women in leading positions in Thailand, she says prejudice is less apparent here. Her mother and aunts were also leading ladies who paved the way for the Gaysorn business. “I’ve worked with a lot of women, and we get things done. Female leaders are quite ingrained in our society, despite the saying of the woman being behind the man. In my experience, the women I’ve worked with have never felt the need to exert themselves in the sense of trying to say they are equal to men. They just get on with the job, so the position or the title does not really matter. A challenge is just a challenge; you just have to overcome it regardless of your gender. It’s all about how you handle the solution.”
Ardent businesswoman though she may be, Korakot is also a loving wife to Predapond Bandityanond, managing director of Landscape Architect 49 (L49). The former interior designer and architect make for a close couple, helping each other to choose décor and paintings for their home. Sharing a similar background, they never miss opportunities to visit art galleries and museums whenever they travel abroad. “I wouldn’t call myself a collector as such, but I do buy pieces that we both like,” she says. The two also know how to enjoy a good time and demonstrate their roundedness through a love of sports and arts alike. Korakot practises yoga in her free time to promote flexibility that helps to prevent injuries whenever they try more adventurous activities such as scuba diving or skiing, a sport Predapond is partial to. Her biggest soft spot, however, is for stationery. “I enjoy making personalised gifts and Chinese New Year envelopes for my nieces and nephews. Wrapping presents, being creative and finding unique materials to decorate. Again it’s about curating a personal experience for someone you love, putting a part of yourself into it.” Korakot also practises calligraphy in her free time, while Predapond excels at Chinese painting as well as calligraphy. Their future, it seems, is written in the stars.
See the behind-the-scenes video of Korakot's cover shoot for our 26th anniversary issue: