#retro style

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
Anil, 34 – head of quality control.

“I check everything. Only when I’m really proud of something will I put my signature to it.” Even as we’re speaking, Anil’s eye remains on the designs being inspected around him.

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
Đāo, 30 – seamstress.

“My favourite thing to do on pay day is to buy myself some gold jewellery. My husband only owns one gold ring, but he’s very understanding of my habit and saves up to buy me things too.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Hai, 37 – upholsterer.

“I had a near-death experience in 2000. I came off of my bike in front of a car. I smashed my arm and chest and was in a coma for 15 days. But when my girlfriend came to visit she yelled at me to wake up. So I did. Then I married her!”

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
Banke Kuku, designer.

“My designs tell stories about west Africa. When people are attracted to a piece, they’ll ask what inspired it. Beauty draws people in. It gives me the opportunity to discuss native parables and current issues on the continent. I always hope that when people hear them, they’ll want to help in the way I do.”

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
Truong – frame constructor.

“When I’m not working, I spend most of my time playing football. I’m a fan of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United. My favourite player is Messi because he’s so passionate. I’d love to be like him.”

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
Chuyên, 29 – frame constructor.

“I’ve been working here for three years, since I left my hometown in the south to come to Saigon. I used to look after baby shrimp in the delta, getting them to grow up big and fat.”

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
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
Mimi, 25, account manager and inspiration for the Mimi collection.

Mimi has been living in Saigon for three years. She moved over from Denmark after university. “My connection to Denmark is much stronger than to Vietnam; although both my parents are Vietnamese. My father fled to Denmark during the Vietnamese war. He met my mother there. She’d run from the war too.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Under the spotlight: the art of modern design.

In the designer’s studio, the walls are covered in mood boards, photos, magazine cutouts, hand-drawn doodles of sofas and chairs, and elaborate floral patterns. When it comes to designing a sofa like our Mimi or any of the beautiful pieces that come from the workshop, Bertil, one of the designers looks all over for inspiration […]

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
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
Shen, Yong Ling, 58 – drawer maker.

“In the past 40 years a lot of things in the world have changed. At the core though, I don’t think I’ve changed very much as a person. I’m still the hard working person I was when I was 18. Work hard – that’s my secret to a good life.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Eva Sonaike, textile designer.

“Over the last ten years there’s been a renaissance in the feeling for African textiles. The colours are vibrant and edgy, because we combine colours that most people wouldn’t put together. Aesthetically, they’re just wonderful. The world has become so much more diverse, and in turn, so have people’s style. People want to make room […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Li, Ya Ping, 28 – treating reclaimed wood.

“I have two men in my life. My six-year-old son is incredibly naughty and just loves to play. And my husband, I nag him a lot. He seems to just deal with it, which is great…for me. What would men do without us?”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Hanh – tracing the Mimi shape.

“My parents were expecting a girl so when I was born, they gave me a girl’s name. I got teased a bit at school because of my name, so I started trying to make everybody laugh. I was as nice to them as possible and it worked – after a few months no-one teased me […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Hōa, 21 – upholsterer.

“I’m an adventurer. I left home at 14 and have moved from city to city ever since. The country is so boring. I love city life. And because I’m friendly and kind, people like me – so I always make friends easily.”