Grey Ray Stationery | Interview | CITY MAGAZINE May 2014

Interview by City Magazine

writer : Rungvisa

“ You cannot do, or you just never do it before?”

– Chanchalad Khanjanawong

Unruly minded man with GREY RAY stationery

Education: Decorative Arts, Department of Interior Design, Silpakorn University Career : Founder / Design Director of Grey Ray stationery and Owner of Art House

Unruly people sounds not really good, but not for this man. He defined the “unruly people” in his opinion that unruly people is not a bad people, but they have their own way to figure things out. Unruly people is a curious kind of people; they will figure things out until they find the right answer. Some may say they’re stubborn. But people like them called themselves as ‘serious nonsense’ kind of people.

It’s true… we have met him before when he just started the stationery project. Why he, who is an owner and a teacher for 15 years, interested in creating ‘pencil cap’ which never have been needed and no one ever asked for it. But then he turned this ‘pencil cap’ to be needed with the simple and cool design, guaranteed by the Design Excellence Award (DE-Mark) from DITP and Good Design Award (G-mark) from Japan. Those awards can prove well about his unruly mind: ‘grey people’ refers to the people who is not so white, yet not so black. Unruly mind and the stationery don’t sounds so match but actually it is. And it does change the world too, in a good way.

Question : How GREY RAY start?

Chanchalad : I own an art school called “Art House” for 15 years and I wanted to increase the business. I was happened to read an article of Mr.Choke Boonkul about the Chokechai Farm. His article mentioned that the business can be increase from the inside, not only outside. His words made me rethink about the school. The stationery is one good way to increase the business of art school so I started to design the product for my school. I didn’t set the goal just to sell the product for my own school, but for everyone. If the product is good, I want everyone to use it. That’s the beginning of GREY RAY

Question : Tell me about the pencil cap

Chanchalad : Pencil cap called ‘EE Defender’ was the first product of GREY RAY. The idea came up from the insight that I studied the behavior of the student in art school which everyone use the EE drawing pencil (some may called 8B pencil) which is fragile and easily broken because it needed to be sharpened in a very long rocket shape. I observed what children used to protect the pencil lead, and found out that some use tissue paper, some used sponge, but no one ever made the protecter for this EE pencil. I researched from 200 students to figure out the median of the popular length of pencil lead that children sharpen. The median length was 3.8 cm, which is the best length for the drawing for Thai student. The reason why they sharpen the pencil to be this long is because it is a culture in thai art school. I made this pencil cap just for them.

Question : Tell me about Drawing out / 2 cm+

Chanchalad : Drawing out was the second product of GREY RAY. The idea came from what I observed from students. When the pencil gets really short, they just throw the rest away. What came up on my mind is, what if we present the way to give the life back to the short pencil, and that people can carry it around again? And it was how pencil extender called ‘Drawing out’ been made. The two side of this product have the difference depth so people could choose which hole to put the short pencil in. ‘Drawing out’ also have inspired me to design the pencil called ‘2 cm+’. The question was “why do people throw the short pencil away when it gets to 2 cm left?” because there’s still 2 cm of lead left inside. I studied about the graphite mineral which pencil lead made from, and found out that graphite mineral is really important for the large industry such as car or battery. So we go to the pencil factory and to make a pencil ‘without’ a graphite and none of the manufacturer said ‘yes’. Most of the manufacturer claimed that it was impossible because of the production system. To make this project possible, they need to make new production system which takes time. We spent 1 year to make this project possible. The pencil that don’t waste anymore graphite called ‘2 cm+’: 2 cm length of pencil lead have been cut. But those 2 cm that haven’t been waste can be used in other industry. Tree can be replanting, but not for mineral. This is the ‘world changing concept’ of GREY RAY which mostly started from the little and simple thing around with a deep thought and a eco-friendly production system.

Question : How you ‘serious’ study?

Chanchalad : GREY RAY produced only 2-3 pieces of products in 3 years because we spent most of the time in researching and developing. Most suppliers refuse to work for us, we talked to 4-5 factories and they all said ‘no’. I was curious whether they cannot do, or they just never do it before. Our duty is to know and think more than them, because they just do whatever they’ve been done for years. My work is to be part of they working system to, so that I can redesign the working system. Now I’m working on sketchbook project which can also be a portfolio too. Normally Thai people never invent something new, but they just buy and sell. If we love stationery, we need to develop it. It’s our duty to study deep in every production system.

Question : Tell me about being ‘serious nonsense’

Chanchalad : Most people tell me I wasted my time on producing pencil cap which there’s no guarantee for me that it can be sell. Nobody know that I seriously into it, and research it from the deepest and i made this design to answer the behavior of people. If this pencil cap is design for HB or 2B, it will be immediately not needed. But this pencil cap is design especially for EE pencil only and EE pencil users in Thailand need it. The consumer maybe not a big market but it’s 100% needed. People will buy it, because it’s been made just for them. The hardest part is to change the supplier’s thought. Well, I can waste 1 year for studying and I met a lots of people like me in sub-culture like Japanese people who played skate board til they became champion or the cartoonist who knows everything about cartoon til they became TV champion. I called them ‘serious nonsense’ kind of people and I’m part of them. People may see them obsessed in a nonsense things, but this obsess mind make it valuable. I don’t know what I do, but I know I want to do, and believe I can do. Previously, I met Japanese people who their family do only ‘pencil sharpener’ for 4th generation. I talked to him about the ‘pencil sharpener’ for EE pencil and he never mentioned “I never done it before” or “I can’t do” words to me. He only said it’s interesting and he wanted to research with us with the know-how his family have, and technique from us. I believe that this kind of people can change the world.

Question : Before work?

Chanchalad : When I wake up, I will count my breath. Be in present. Be in myself. Balance myself and then open my eyes. Get up slowly and go to meditate for 15 minutes to see what’s on my mind, is anything bother my mind? If the mind is stable, work life will be stable. The whole day will be flexible minded. After that, I will watering my plants. Well, I’m a lover of laziness in the morning (laugh)