Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vietnamese Elegance

St. Joseph's cathedral in Hanoi is a popular meeting-place for locals and tourists alike. There's a sea of stationary motorbikes parked in front every evening, and as boutiques shut their doors, restaurants come to life.

If you stand in front of the cathedral and look up, you'll see a splash of bright yellow across the street.

The Hanoi House is upstairs, a resting place for travellers on their way to Sapa

The brilliant color makes it hard to miss. Inside, you'll find one-of-a-kind treasures: here's a lamp made of hand-dipped incense sticks.

This birdhouse has a couple of porcelain residents

Everything here is designed by the incredibly talented Tiep. He has fans around the world, from Spain to Australia. Here he is reading my book, giving me some space to explore his with my camera.

Tiep made these tiles - he has a kiln at the edge of town. Note the color variation from different composition of earths.

"When we were kids, we would perch on the mezzanine, twirl lotus buds into spirals, then drop them spinning down to the floor below. I designed these when thinking of those games; kids don't do that anymore, they have TV and internet now."

Hallway to the cafe

Table made of traditional chopping boards, transformed into fish

Whether sculpture or room divider or knick-knack holder, this bamboo structure's beautiful

This could be a shelf or an altar or a faux fireplace, all made of tiles

Some of Tiep's work from a boutique hotel in Sapa:

Decorative drum made of coins

Head vase

"These lights were inspired by the way women used to wear their hair in my grandmother's generation: they'd wrap it in fabric then twirl it around their heads."

Tiep molded these animals, then made these coffee tables that showcase local crops.

Birdcages made of local H'mong fabric from the surrounding hills

Tiep also runs a tranquil cafe overlooking Truc Bach Lake. Highly recommend it - stop by 17A Truc Bach Lake to sample some Vietnamese delicacies and sit at tables made of motorbike chains, lit by cocoon-like lamps made of unspun silk.

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