30 March 2012
by Evonne Mackenzie
The second instalment of the exhibition was officially opened last night at the Ho Chi Minh City Exhibition House by the British Ambassador to Vietnam, Dr Anthony Stokes.
The exhibition is in a fantastic location right in the heart of the city near the HCMC Museum. Attended by lots of interesting people, the opening had plenty of discussion regarding the way in which the individual projects within the exhibition might be relevant to designers, architects and the general public in Vietnam. In particular, the projects related to energy and community seemed to chime, with discussions around the substantial investment and development in energy and the work of various charities and NGOs in declining coastal communities.
During the day many people had attended a day-long sustainable architecture, construction and development conference and so most people were specialists and the design and architecture community seems to be growing in the city generally.
It seems that design hasn’t yet found a public home in HCMC in terms of the cultural life of the city. The national museums had some historic works but the few contemporary art spaces in the city are dedicated to visual art. San Art is an artists-collective run space with exhibitions, events, talks; Quynh Gallery a commercial gallery showing work by Vietnamese artists while Zero Station is a cross artform space that seems the most design-oriented.
There seems to be growing interest in developing more design events and activities for the designers working in the city with various events like barcampsaigon organised by RMIT, the establishment of new design school ADS and regular morning events by a group called Saigon Creative. So far one of the best places for design seemed to be L’Usine - a café cum gallery and store that holds small exhibitions and sells products by local designers including District 8 who designed all the furniture and fittings in the space.
With existing, well established design sectors in neighbouring Thailand and nearby Malaysia, there’s a desire to grow the creative industries in HCMC in a similar way and a recent creative mapping exercise have been conducted by Ho Chi Minh City Investment & Trade Promotion Centre to demonstrate the potential that it might have to the economy. It will be interesting to see how the scene grows and evolves in the coming years.