Bloomfield Hills, Mich., April 12, 2016 – It is with heavy hearts that the Cranbrook Academy of Art community mourns the loss of alumna Orapun “Im” Sarasalin Schafer (Ceramics ’09). Im was a gifted architect, designer, and so much more. She was a loving partner to fellow graduate David Schafer (Metalsmithing ’09), both in life and in their business, the design studio Studiomake. She was a radiant mother to their daughter, Sa. And she was a consistent face on numerous “one to watch” lists around the world.
Her loss at such a young age, with so many projects ahead of her, is an especially difficult blow for our community. In the Cranbrook spirit of Ray and Charles Eames, David and Im were a force together, and we looked forward to watching many more years of their collaborative projects.
Im was born in Kansas, but raised in Bangkok by her parents, a painter and illustrator. She moved to Tucson, receiving a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona in 2003. She was an architect licensed by the State of California, in addition to her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.
For personal and creative reasons, David and Im moved to Thailand to set up their design studio, Studiomake. Together with a team of architects, designers, and fabricators, they worked in the “realm of architecture, interior, furniture, and object design, inspired by tradition, technology, and constant questioning.”
Their recent designs include several residences in Chaing Mai, their own office in Nonthaburi, and the Patana Gallery at Rangsit University. Most recently they designed the headquarters for the Chinese-Thai Institute at Rangsit Univeristy, which includes a “floating” exhibition hall.
Im’s work is in the permanent collection of Cranbrook Art Museum and the Frankel Foundation for Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Starting on April 16, you can see selections from her work, Untitled Edition Vessels (Volume One), 2009, on display at Cranbrook Art Museum through May 15. This series of slipcast earthenware vessels comes from an inspired system of molds that allowed Im to use mass-production techniques to create functional vessels which, rather than being duplicates of each other, are unique variants, implying the possibility of unlimited disparities in form.
Schafer’s work speaks to the customization that can emerge within the confines of industry and the beauty of mass-produced goods. Cranbrook Art Museum holds in its collection the molds used to create these works as well as 55 of the 120 vessels produced in the first volume of this series.
Donations may be made to the Academy in Im’s memory, care of:
Cranbrook Academy of Art Development Office
P.O. Box 801
39221 Woodward Avenue
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303