Cutting Clutter at By Maze

One of the pleasures of walking around the ICFF is finding interesting work at the smaller firms struggling for their share of the spotlight.

By Maze, a San Francisco firm headed by UC Berkeley architecture graduate Thi Thongbenjamas and director of marketing Jane Wachiradejkul, is one of those smaller firms, and an aggressively quirky one at that.

According to their promotional material, the company started “with the belief and understanding that our environment, culture, and society are as hectic and chaotic as the human mind.” This belief is illustrated in their logo/mascot, a little maze with eyes and a nose called Mr. Brainer.

But any fears that the work represented by By Maze (which acts as a sort of curator and distributor for a number of designers, both in-house and independent, based primarily in Thailand and the US) will prove too twee are quickly dispelled upon seeing it.

One of their new pieces is the Palm Saucer, an elegant porcelain cup-and-saucer set that can be carried around like a painter’s easel. “It makes it easy to carry your drink and food around at a party,” says Wachiradejkul.

But my favorite By Maze piece was the Root Vase, a small and slender bud vase that looks, as the name suggests, like a set of bare tree roots. “It has a human touch,” says Wachiradejkul. “Each one is slightly different because they are handmade.” It looks unlike any vase I’ve ever seen, but its organic form makes its purpose clear. It’s mysterious, yet functional—just like the human mind.

Perhaps Mr. Brainer is not as quirky as I thought.

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