#retro style armchair

3 years ago · 7 min read
Fanny Shorter – designer.

“Classic, greenhouse, disco.” says textile designer Fanny Shorter when asked how she thinks people would sum up her eye-catching fabrics in three words.

4 years ago · 7 min read
Luu, 34 – carpenter.

“My daughter has just turned two. My parents and uncles all saved up to buy her a gold ring that she can wear on special occasions – it’s just like my wedding ring. We have to stop her swallowing it though; she chews everything!”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Wen, Gui Xiang, 45 – carpenter.

“I hate having my picture taken – I get very shy! I love to take pictures though, especially of my grandchildren. My son, his wife and their two kids live here with me. Thankfully, I get on really well with my daughter-in-law. She met my son in Guangdong through matchmakers.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Vuong – button maker.

“I was born in the year of the goat. It happened to be the year that Tet celebrations took place this February. What happens during Tet is very important – it sets up what’s to come for the rest of the year. My Tet holiday didn’t go so well.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Phong, 30 – upholsterer.

“I dyed my hair myself with henna for the Lunar New Year and girls seem to like it.” Phong is the workshop heart throb. Several of the women had mentioned him to us. We could tell just from the way he walked.

4 years ago · 7 min read
Giāo, 45 – leg sander.

“It doesn’t take me long to get to work – I live just 500m away amongst the shrimp ponds and rice fields. I’ve lived there my whole life.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Bertil, 30 – designer.

“I came to Vietnam looking for an adventure. I never expected to stay long – I told my dad I’d be here for three months. That was 12 years ago.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Quôc, 22 – webbing specialist.

“I moved to Saigon three years ago when I was 19. My older brother came too and now we live and work together, but somehow we never fight! We didn’t fight when we were children either.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Sang, 35 – upholsterer.

“Every evening after work I go to the river and sit there until about 10pm. I find it so relaxing – I love the peace and quiet. Sometimes, if the fishing’s good, I’ll stay there all night. You can catch a lot of fish overnight.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Chung, 25 – seating specialist.

“I bought this necklace in my hometown, Thanh Hoá. I was feeling a bit rundown and someone told me that the tooth would ward off fevers and colds. It’s true – it even cures hangovers!”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Zhang Yu Hong, 38 – wood assembler.

“Where I come from in Hebei you can see the Great Wall from my village. It’s 60km away so I never actually went up it that often, but just seeing it there every day, looking down at you, was pretty inspiring. I still remember that view.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Sheng, Qun, 43 – wood cutter.

“I’ve got a black dog. He’s a stray breed from the village and is only two-three months old. I call him Baobao, which means baby. It’s pretty appropriate given he basically eats what I eat, and as soon as I’m home he gets all my attention.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Luo, Dong Lan, 51 – seamstress.

“I’ve recently become a grandmother. My son is 30 and has an adorable six-month-old daughter. I’m at work all day so his mother-in-law looks after her during the weekdays. Since I only see her on Saturdays and Sundays, I can’t help but spoil her when I do see her.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Hai, 32 – head of QC.

“I’m pretty keen on history. I like the Hung Kings,” he says of the kings who ruled Vietnam from 2879 BC. “I’ve memorised all their names. But if I could live in any time, I would want to live under Ho Chi Minh. That would be an honour.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Thu Suong, 30 – seamstress.

“My favourite films are romances, but I’ve never experienced anything overly romantic. Not even on Valentine’s Day – my husband and I just stay in. It would be so romantic if one day, he gave me a rose.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Phúc, 22 – lathe turner.

Phúc hardly says a word, but his eyes are fixed on us at all times – occasionally he drags them away to look at the translator, but within moments they’re back again. “Is everything OK?” we ask him. “Yes, it’s just that I’ve never seen a foreigner before.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Xiang, Sheng Qiu, 40 – wood laminator.

“I really admire my eldest daughter. She’s 18 and very studious, especially with science and maths. She doesn’t always get the best results, but she’s calm and patient and she keeps going. I think that’s a great attitude.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Under the spotlight: crafting covered buttons.

Sitting on what looks to be an old wooden school desk in the corner of the sewing section of the workshop, is an ancient-looking button press. No one knows exactly how old it is; it’s been there for as long as anyone can remember. Vuong turns a wheel that’s bound with ragged material for grip, […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Hand-made from start to finish – crafting the Felix armchair.

In the workshop, artisans work to the beat, punch, and hum of a motley collection of tools. A chorus of noise that, Du tells us, he doesn’t even notice anymore. The components of the Felix armchair having already been traced and cut to shape, he takes the pine pieces and assembles the frame with lightening […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Zheng, Jing Hua, 40 – wood texture specialist.

“I love to watch singing competition shows on TV. I used to play the horn in a band and I enjoy singing traditional Chinese songs. I always like to think I’m musical but I was never very good. I don’t have a great voice and I’m definitely not going to sing for you right now!”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Yang, Weng Qing, 36 – design tracer.

“I have two kids, a son aged 14 and a daughter aged eight. My son lives in Guizhou with my family. He’s pretty introverted and often when we speak on the phone the conversation stops, and he doesn’t want to say anything more. I guess that’s teenagers, but I still find it sad.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Buck, Zeng, 43 – head of QC.

“In my spare time I play a lot of basketball. As you can see, I’m pretty tall. I started playing at university and I still play regularly. These days it’s more about keeping fit and messing around with the boys than playing anything really competitive.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Ngân, 29 – upholstery artisan.

“Jade is for protection. I took my bracelet to a Buddhist temple and left it overnight with a monk to be blessed. It’s really necessary – there are lots of ghosts in my hometown. I’ve never seen one but I know people who have. If you see a shadow flying around your head, that’s a […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Du, 34, assembling artisan.

“I take photos of my children with me everywhere I go. If I’m having a tough day, or if I’m feeling tired, I just have to flick through my phone and I feel much better.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Mr Ro, 60, workshop manager.

“I love Sundays. I tend to meet up with my friends and drink coffee. I love a good Vietnamese coffee but these days, you have to be very careful. Lots of places sell fake coffee, made of soy beans and chemicals. I refuse to drink it.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Under the spotlight – making mid-century style legs.

A tropical garden grows at the front of the workshop with big trees and awnings to provide shade from the extraordinary Vietnamese heat. Inside, planks of oak sit on a carpet of sawdust, waiting to be made into legs for our Mimi sofas, armchairs, ottomans and pouffes. “The best quality wood is marked red,” our […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Tell us about your tattoo.

Nguyen turns his forearm towards himself and looks at the heart being punctured by an arrow. “It’s for love, I think, I can hardly remember. It was done a really long time ago when I was 19 and a soldier.”