First rule when ordering a coffee in Italy – never ask for an ‘espresso’. Or even worse, an ‘expresso’. Especially in Milan. A city where perfection is paramount – even in your coffee order. The birthplace of some of the most famed fashion houses, Milan is a hub for trend-setters and innovators aplenty.
“Classic, greenhouse, disco.” says textile designer Fanny Shorter when asked how she thinks people would sum up her eye-catching fabrics in three words.
“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.
One of our most-coveted industrial designs, each and every Orson stool is entirely hand-made. Available as a bar and kitchen stool and in various finishes, discover its journey from raw planks of mango wood and ribbons of steel to a catwalk-worthy statement piece.
Shrawan showed us a little wooden tractor that he made in his spare time. “It reminds me of being at home. We have two cows there – we call them ‘mother cows’ because they’re sacred. They make our house holy.”
Inside the wood store timber is stacked in its thousands. “To some, the wood store may be intimidating. I like to think of myself as its master.”
“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.”
“There’s no point in stressing about life. Every situation has a solution, and if you stay calm and let time pass, you’ll figure it out.”
“I started at the workshop six months ago. I used to work the 700km Guangzhou to Xiamen route as a truck driver. It was exhausting. We did eight-hours-on, eight-hours-off shifts the whole time. The worst part was that I could only come home once a year to visit my wife and son. Now I see […]
“When I founded Kith and Kin, I wanted to create a brand that not only creates fun, quality pieces, but that also gives back to the community. There’s a lot of pressure on companies these days to produce cheaper designs, but we’ll always remain true to our ethics. We’re currently working with a charity called […]
“The Vietnamese are very friendly – but not immediately! You have to spend some more time with us, then we’ll open up to you.”
“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.”
“My favourite colour is definitely pink. I bought this jacket a few months ago. When I saw the vibrant pink lining it just called out to me.”
“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.”
“I’m sorry to stare – I just love to look at foreigners. We don’t see many here.”
“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!”
Long rectangular planks of pine arrive wrapped in plastic all the way from New Zealand. Like gifts waiting to be opened. Artisans cut them down to smaller, more manageable pieces, piling them up in Jenga-like towers in the middle of the floor, ready for crafting the Mimi three-seater sofa.
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 […]
“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.”
“My wife and I have an agreement that whoever gets home first starts the cooking. I can’t cheat as she works here as well, in the painting department, so she’ll know if I’m just shuffling or detouring on my way home.”
“I’ve been a carpenter my whole life. I use to make furniture by hand in my village and people would travel for miles from neighboring villages to put in their requests. Back then, having wooden furniture made was a big event, once in a lifetime for most people, usually when they got married.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
“I had a difficult childhood. I lost my mum and dad early in my life and thinking about it still breaks my heart.”
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, […]
“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.”
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 […]
“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 […]
“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?”