Through this competition, HAWA and AHEC seek to inspire young Vietnamese designers to unleash their creative design talent using American hardwood species.
Mr. John Chan, Regional Director Greater China and Southeast Asia of AHEC said, “As with past iterations of the Hoa Mai Competition, we saw a plethora of excellent designs this year. We are delighted that these talented young designers had the chance to learn about and use sustainable American hardwood to produce beautiful and practical pieces.”
All design entries were created from American red oak, the most abundant species in the American hardwood forest and which is particularly suited to fine furniture making given its beauty, strength and workability. There were 268 entries this year and judging panel narrowed this down to a shortlist of 22 from which 8 eventual winners were chosen.
Designer Vu Dinh Nghiem took home the first prize with his Eastern Sofa. His design was inspired by traditional Asian pagodas. The lounge chair combines three structures – a wooden frame, leather sling, and a foam cushion – to bring maximum comfort to the user, while maintaining a beauty in its simplicity.
Having used American red oak before in his work as a furniture designer, he is familiar with the benefits, “American red oak is good quality and has clear and traceable origins, making it perfect choice for high quality products.”
Second prize winner, Tran Thanh Hyuen took inspiration from her childhood memories of playing in the fields amongst mantises. She set out to build a mantis-shaped rocking chair suitable for young children. She chose colours that are reminiscent of the grass she remembers. The seat cushion was knitted using traditional Vietnamese techniques. Through her design, she hopes to bring a sense of nostalgia whist connecting traditional Vietnamese culture and values.
She said of her work, “American red oak is not only pliable, it is a beautifully-grained wood. It really elevates my product design.”
The winner of the third prize was Vu Phan Hoai Nhi who innovatively named her design Sevania – an amalgamation of ‘sedge’, ‘nature’ and ‘Vietnam’. Sedge is a traditional Vietnamese material, used in various household items, including the popular sedge mat, which is used for sleeping, eating, festivals, rituals and even Vietnamese opera.
While the design is primarily made of American red oak, sedge is used for the sliding doors, bringing a Vietnamese touch to the piece. She said, “American red oak wood has advantages in terms of durability, strength, and stability. In addition, in terms of aesthetics, red oak grain is even and beautiful. Furniture created from red oak brings a warm and luxurious feeling to any space, making red oak suitable for use any luxury furniture products.”