Previous Competitions / Interviews / Interview: Natthorn Uliss

He'd won six design awards

June 1st, 2023 - Voice of Design

Thai Natthorn Uliss recently traded the vibrant 12-million-people city of Bangkok for sleepy Mjölby, in Sweden, best known for its potatoes. Here, Natthorn does transportation design for Toyota. And, when I saw him, made a point of saying he wasn’t interested in car design.

So, why is he in Mjölby, anyway? Because he won an internship at Toyota Material Handling Europe. Natthorn came in third at the 2020 TLDC design competition, his mobile baggage system named Uliss (early branding!) offers travellers perfect flexibility. They scan the QR code on their boarding pass, and then wait for their bags to be delivered wherever they are at the airport. (It does sound good, doesn’t it?)

ULISS won 3rd place during TLDC 2020

Took me higher: Jacob Jensen

He told me his family wanted him to study design abroad. What helped him, he said, was the fact that he’d won six design awards. A lot for a 24-year-old. I asked him if it was time for him to retire. He laughed politely.

Danish Jacob Jensen, perhaps best known for his iconic work with Bang & Olufsen, had passed away by the time Natthorn started to work for his firm. This was prior to Natthorn joining Toyota. And there’s another Danish designer that ranks high in Natthorn’s estimation: Cecilie Manz. She’s a highly reputed industrial designer and what attracts Natthorn to her work is, from what I understood, her penchant for simplicity. Which Natthorn shares.

The TLDC, and on

I asked him how he got on to the TLDC baggage handling challenge. ”I was just looking around on Google and came across the TLDC site and I found that there was more realistic information there than at the other competition sites,” he said. So, things worked out and Natthorn copped the copper. But – he didn’t know about it until his mom told him. (Isn’t that what mothers do? Look out for you!) Natthorn has, at the point of this interview earlier this year, been with Toyota for about a year. And – he likes it!

Natthorn in front of the Microhub displayed at Milan Fuorisalone 2023

Sweden is a big park

We just briefly talked about the boundless change of moving from Bangkok, with more people than the entire population of Sweden. ”Yeah, said Natthorn, there are some parks in Bangkok, true.” But by comparison, he said, ”it’s like the whole country of Sweden is one big park”.

Natthorn went on to mention the joint Toyota-Vanderlande project that he’s been involved in. Vanderlande specialises in airport logistics and also storage, Natthorn explained. ”Vanderlande gives me a lot of freedom. You can get to do whatever you want.” It’s almost that it’s too much, he said. ”I really don’t have ideas about everything.”

The Microhub, from Toyota internship project

We’re twenty people in the house in Bangkok

But here, in Sweden, I live on my own.