Wannasiri Srivarathanabul portrait

Wannasiri Srivarathanabul: Designer, Architecture Instructor, Writer, Iron Chef Thailand Judge, and So Much More

June 3, 2024

Wannasiri “Vanessa” Srivarathanabul (Master of Architecture, 1996) moved to the United States from Bangkok, Thailand with her fiancé, now husband, and fellow College of Architecture and Planning alum, Vasin Srivarathanabul, as he worked on his architecture degree at the University of Arizona. During that time, Srivarathanabul began researching architecture programs for herself and traveled to Denver to see the University of Colorado Denver’s campus.  

“At that time, Downtown Denver was a safe, beautiful, and colorful place to live and study. Living in Colorado was like living in a dream for us from Bangkok, who had to survive the heat and terrible traffic,” recalled Srivarathanabul. “Aside from the excellent environment and good quality of life among beautiful nature, there were also friendly people there, including school friends, teachers, school staff, neighbors, co-workers, and my boss at the architecture firm in Denver. They were amazing!” 

Together, they moved to Denver to complete their Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degrees.

Architectural Beginnings

Though Srivarathanabul struggled with her English, she worked hard to overcome language barriers and found her comfort zone in her 3D Computer Design Communications course, where she was also hired as a teaching assistant. She applied this knowledge of visual communications to her studio work as well. 

Following a presentation for her studio’s final review, a well-known, Denver architect, Michael Barber, approached her with a job opportunity to work as an architectural visualization professional on a design team. Shortly after earning her M.Arch degree, she accepted a position with the architecture firm, Barber Architecture.  

She worked in Denver for nearly a year, but after Srivarathanabul’s father fell sick, she and Vasin moved back to Bangkok. When she returned, she opened the design firm, dp-studio, creating visual design communications for real estate, which also led her to produce articles for the Association of Thai Architects Magazine. 

She also began teaching architecture in Bangkok, and Thammasat University contacted Srivarathanabul to join the faculty for their new architecture degree program. 

As her teaching career opportunities grew, she discovered her interest and talent in writing. “After that, I started writing short stories and won a Thai-Writer competition. I got my first book published and became a columnist for many magazines,” shared Srivarathanabul. “And around the same time, I also won a design contest on the topic of houses and nature, causing the press to call me an architect-writer.” 

Now, Srivarathanabul works as the editor-in-chief of a magazine producing content, managing the business, and marketing

Wannasiri Srivarathanabul on the Iron Chef judging stage.

Wannasiri Srivarathanabul on the Iron Chef judging stage.

Why Not Try Other Things?

“Do you have to relearn all the time? And when you get the new project, you have to start from zero. Everything has to start from zero. So, why not try other things?” asked Srivarathanabul. “Every time we design a new building, we always have to be open to learning new things, and that’s why I have no fear of doing new things or facing new problems because I enjoy learning.”

Her passion for learning has introduced Srivarathanabul to people and experiences across a variety of professions. She’s even served as a judge on Iron Chef Thailand, an opportunity provided to her thanks to the wide range of experiences she gained through her contributions as a writer in the lifestyle realm. 

So, while teaching, writing, and eating delicious foods, Srivarathanabul has continued running the business side of her design firm. What she learned in visual communications through her courses at CU Denver, she has applied to her work in many facets of her career, especially in her work with marketing communications. 

“With my skill in visual communications combined with my skill in media and marketing, my company, dp-studio, was able to work in various types of marketing communications,” said Srivarathanabul. “We’ve worked for many, big organizations in both public and private sectors such as The Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, leading real estate companies, and hotels.”

Wannasiri Srivarathanabul portrait.

Design for a Better World

Beyond architecture, writing, and creative agency business administration, Srivarathanabul is also a singer, performer, actor, and music producer. With all her experiences, Srivarathanabul has a unique perspective on success and the power of the art and work we share with the world.

“I think that 80% of what success is, is being happy with what you know, what you are doing, and what you are delivering,” said Srivarathanabul. 

And as a designer, she knows both the challenges and the potential for her work to change the world. “It is both good and bad that today we have many new tools that make design easier. But as designers, we all know that good design doesn’t come easy,” said Srivarathanabul.

Through Srivarathanabul’s wide range of experiences, she’s seen the many sides of the business of design, and through design, she is hopeful that design can address the problems we face. “No matter where we are or what field of design we work in, what we need to pay serious attention to, besides good aesthetics and functional design, is its contribution to solving the world’s problems,” said Srivarathanabul. “I believe designers are heroes who will save our world if we just care.”