‘Khải’ showed how a new generation of design thinkers are applying modern techniques to Vietnamese design without losing the emotional resonance of traditional handcrafting.

In Vietnam design has long been driven by social need – a means of making or repairing objects so that they work well and are improved through each iteration. But alongside this exists a rich history of craft – acts of weaving, carving, dying, drawing and printing, within which are embedded a wealth of emotions. Around these processes, stories are told, secrets are shared and lives are lived.

The Vietnamese installation presented the work of three contemporary designers who embrace this utilitarian heritage but combine it with a greater sense of aesthetic ambition. Fashion designer Thảo Vũ, multidisciplinary designer Giang Nguyễn and visual artist and Lê Thanh Tùng are at the forefront of a culture that, while at ease with digital methods, still believes in the emotional value of creating by hand. “There is a particular joy in the practice of making and there is a visceral connection to knowledge passed down through generations and knowing it is being carried to the future,” said curator Claire Driscoll.

The installation consisted of two rooms that explored contemporary interpretations of traditional textile production. Room one was a laboratory showing natural dye techniques. Constructed over an indigo pool, the lab showed the steps of the dyeing process and revealed how Thảo Vũ reinterpreted these methods to create new kinds of sustainable textiles.

1 of 2

Photography: Ed Reeve

Photography: Ed Reeve


Administering Body:

University of Leicester headed by Dr Marta Gasparin in association with Work Room Four and Kilomet 109

Design Team:

Thảo Vũ, Lê Thanh Tùng, Giang Nguyễn


Claire Driscoll

Supporting Bodies:

Embassy of Vietnam, London, Dragon Capital, NashTech, Vietnam UK Network, New World Fashion Group, Shopping, Vietnam Airlines, and Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism

2018 Exhibitors