When the Teak Flower blooms at Creative Lanna

Views : 3003 | 01 Oct 2021
1 2 3 4 9 11

The distinctive symbol of an elephant holding up a torch has long represented Chiang Mai University. However, on closer inspection, there is another symbol that represents stability and prosperity – the teak flower.

Ivory coloured teak flowers represent one of Northern Thailand's crucial industrial crops – the teak tree. The flower is also used in the Creative Lanna logo of Chiang Mai University's Creative Lanna initiative. Here it is used as part of the identity and strategy of the initiative, which aims to utilise and apply cultural wisdom and capital to today's society.

Assistant Professor Ekkachai Mahaek, PhD., Vice President of Chiang Mai University, designed the logo and is responsible for driving the proactive Creative Lanna strategy according to Chiang Mai University's Educational Development Plan Stage 12 (2017-2021). Assistant Professor Ekkachai also holds the position of Director of the Creative Lanna Centre (CLC), which aims to become a space for learning, study, and somewhere where new ideas can flourish by using, connecting, and continuing to preserve and promote old wisdom and knowledge.

Process of developing the Creative Lanna logo

Assistant Professor Dr.Ekkachai Mahaek, Vice President of Chiang Mai University and
director of Creative Lanna Centre

Four Corners of Lanna: Opening a new perspective from the past to the present

Advances in information technology mean that education is no longer confined to the campus. Today, anyone interested in learning about the Lanna arts or culture may do so by simply clicking on This website has combined and acts as the university's databases of knowledge for both academic and public benefit.

This new four-cornered perspective is part of Creative Lanna's new strategy to collect and store knowledge. Whereas in the past, there were eight areas of Lanna Studies, today's four-cornered approach responds directly to the current needs of people living in today's society and environment.

First corner: Lanna Folk Wisdom – A centre of all data across Lanna Studies. This includes academic papers, research results, case studies, and all relevant data drawn from the university's eight fields of studies, including short and long curricula. There is also funding for university personnel to conduct research to continue to innovate and add value to local culture.

Second corner: Lanna Portal – Cultural biodiversity and published results, using story-telling methods which are then collected and filed in an online directory and portal where the public can access multiple aspects of Lanna via

Third corner: Creative Lanna – Bringing local folk wisdom into the twenty-first century to generate innovation and new economic opportunities that add value to various Lanna communities' local practices and skills. This includes developing and designing new ideas, technology, innovation, and knowledge to respond to modern society, organising workshops, competitions, and developing industrial and innovation processes. This high touch and high tech approach will become a model for future innovation.

Fourth corner: Lanna Cultural Landscape – Develop a centre for Creative Lanna to serve as a place of learning, creativity, and new products based on old knowledge. Also, organise Creative Lanna Events such as the Lanna Festival to attract tourism and interested persons, and develop a Lanna Creative District, drawing upon current assets such as the university’s campuses and land in the heart of Chiang Mai city and on Nimmanhaemin Road.

This four-cornered approach recognises and opens up new perspectives to the public, communicating and driving the message that Lanna culture is not something just to study and analyse. Rather, it is a living and breathing part of today's society that can be drawn upon to develop new perspectives and opportunities for modern times.

Build Things and Mold People: Innovation from local Lanna wisdom
The accumulation of over seven centuries of Lanna knowledge reveals a rich culture from which to draw upon. Such wisdom can be applied to life in the modern time. The Creative Lanna League selected projects to participate in a seminar workshop with the Science and Technology Park, Chiang Mai University. The objective was to add value to local wisdom passed down for over seven centuries.

The Lanna Essence Workshop develops and molds business operators through the process of developing a business through the lenses of Creative Lanna

Creative Lanna League project participents

The university also created the Lanna Essence Workshop to develop and mold business operators through the process of developing business through the lens of Creative Lanna. Students and university alumni interested in design can join this workshop to build identities and branding of local products and services in an innovative and creative way using the Design Thinking process to respond to design trends and creativity to serve customers and consumers better.

Creative Products from the Lanna Essence Workshop

“The purpose of Lanna League is to offer opportunities for creative people, many of whom already possess Lanna wisdom and knowledge,” explained Assistant Professor Ekkachai. “By joining a team of three people, proposals or innovations can benefit all parties. Perhaps there is a Faculty of Fine Arts graduate with design ideas but who lacks business savvy. They can join forces with a friend from the Faculty of Business Administration who knows how to market. Both can offer benefits to one another as well as benefit from each other, sharing passions and developing a comprehensive overview. On the other hand, it could be a graduate in finance who is utilising local herbs to develop perfumes or recycling leftover flowers from places of worship into new products.

Lanna Essence is a workshop that aims to help people take the next step. There could be multiple generations of skilled artisans who need new products to offer today's markets, or a Lanna herbal seller who can no longer rely on old products. We offer workshops to help them enter the modern market while preserving traditional knowledge, assisting them in building a business model by organising workshops similar to Lanna League’s, adding future value to the past.”

Leftover flowers from places of worship to recycle into new products

Working closely with local community members, the Faculty of Fine Arts has successfully developed a space near
Sri-Nawarat Temple in Sanpatong

One fine example of this is in the Street Art project for the Sanpatong District community. Working closely with community members, the Faculty of Fine Arts has successfully developed a space near Sri-Nawarat Temple in Sanpatong, where the Tai Khern people live. Local skills and knowledge have been developed into a valuable economic asset. Today the Kad Kom Kong Diew market is a charming and resounding success visited by many visitors who return again and again. Communities are then able to generate income from their roots or cultural tourism investments and develop local-specific products.

Creative Lanna within the Lanna Cultural Landscape

An atmosphere and space that fosters creativity is crucial in inspiring creativity and innovation, especially in a city like Chiang Mai, which has such a long and rich history. Chiang Mai's cultural diversity, its designers, business people, and skilled craftspeople are why the Creative Lanna Centre (CLC) project was established to become a centre in response to the Lanna cultural landscape strategy.

The Creative Lanna Centre, currently under construction, is set in Khuang Payom, which sits near the Chiang Mai University Art Centre, Centre for the Promotion of Arts and Culture, CMU Lanna House Museum. All are located on Nimmanhaemin Road, one of the city's commercial centres. The aim is to develop a Lanna Creative District that can drive business and creative industries and open up economic opportunities for all.

The Creative Lanna Centre will be a place for anyone to come and create and develop, whether an artist, designer, researcher, lecturer, or student. The atmosphere will be creative, with clear plans and strategies. This will include an annual Lanna Festival to attract visitors and the Cultural Market designed to appeal to all generations.

The centre will open its doors in 2022 to a world where the beauties of Lanna culture can once again become a part of Lanna living. Cultural pride can then be developed into real economic opportunities for not just the people of Lanna but Thailand as a whole.

Chiang Mai University. 239 Huay Kaew Road. Muang District. Chiang Mai. Thailand. 50200

Phone : +66 5394 1300
Fax : +66 5321 7143