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Thai Design Center Uncovers Riches in Gritty Native Soil

by Brian Mertens

Interior view of TCDC library. Courtesy TCDC.

A few years ago, a visiting economist from a United Nations-affiliated agency mentioned in conversation his plans to conduct a study on Thailand's arid, semi-impoverished northeastern region, known as Isan. The study's title was to be "Why Isan Is Uncompetitive."

•Tattoos as traditional psychological armor: installation in "Isan Retrospective." Courtesy TCDC.

But as Marshall McLuhan once observed, “Affluence creates poverty." Reasoning along these paradoxical lines, the inaugural exhibition of the jaw-dropping…

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