When you think about East meets West, there are many interpretations that arise in your mind; perhaps a dating website or an Art piece in Europe. Well, here in a city as small as Hanoi, Vietnam, there is an ancient house filled with a unique fusion of the two seemingly unrelated but intricately connected styles. Located on Hang Dao street – a used to be silk trading street, Hanoia is a unique craft house which showcases the art of Vietnamese lacquer. For such an old house, there are many things co-existing in its space: the time, the East vs. West, the tradition vs. modern, the old vs. new, the art, the design, the craft, the passion, and of course the love for lacquer. Harmoniously mixing these elements creates a melodic blend to fill the entire ancient house.
WHEN WAS IT STARTED?
Exactly 20 years ago, Hanoia was founded in the historical lacquer village of Binh Duong province, near Sai Gon, Vietnam. It was the cooperative work of Vietnamese artisans and European designers who harnessed a passion for lacquer. It all started with lacquered wood sandals made for fashionista but fuelled by high success, the production soon developed into luxurious jewelry and accessories, souvenirs, decorative objects and gifts. Later, Hanoia opened another workshop in Hanoi.
WHAT ARE THEIR VALUE PROPOSITIONS?
As one of the largest lacquer manufacturers in Vietnam, Hanoia manufactures high-end souvenirs, trendy jewelry, luxurious decorative objects, and corporate gifts. These collections bring about the elegant yet sophisticated, the classic yet modern, mixed with bright and joyous color schemes. Owning a piece means taking on an incarnation of Vietnam’s haute lacquer and the spirit of the Vietnamese culture.
WHAT ARE THE TECHNIQUES USED?
No masterpiece is made without the passion of the creator. In Hanoia, a product is made with the energy, time, and patience of both the designers and the artisans. Growing up learning to make lacquer, these artisans inherit a natural capability in creating a product in the most skillful, sophisticated, and elegant way. From eggshell, gold and silver inlaying, to hand painting and engraving, in each piece of Hanoia’s collection, visitors can really see and feel the dedication and wholeheartedness from the people who made them.
There are only 3 basic colors of lacquer: black, red, and dark brown. However, with the need to better express the soul and different emotional levels of a lacquered product, artisans in Hanoi have invented more than 500 color effects. These vividly modern samples of colors are applied to a wide range of mediums, including wood, horn, metal leaves, egg shells, silk, silver, fiber glass, etc.
HOW IS THE PROCESS?
The process to create lacquerware is intensive and time consuming in its multitude steps. Regardless of its size, it has to go through 20 stages, and no less than 100 days of creation. To have the final product, artisans must go through the following steps:
1. They have to select suitable wood.
2. Natural lacquer is filled into the wood to make it harder and avoid any insect rotting.
3. A lacquerware is then covered with a piece of gauze so as not to have any crack or curving shapes.
4. The artisans add 5 more layers of lacquer. They have to wait till each layer dries and later rub them with water.
5. This work will be repeated countless time till the lacquerware becomes 100% smooth.
As sophisticated as it is, each piece of lacquerware deserves to be a gift of time since it has to go through numerous hand-made steps. The pieces require patience, an aesthetic eye, and the love for Vietnamese culture from craftsmen. The final product is regarded to be high in quality, functional, and compact with cultural value. By the time guests leave the house, they will truly have absorbed Hanoia and the experience it brings to them. Hanoia is not only a craft house but also a place to represent the Art of lacquer – the tradition and culture of a nation. It is, indeed, a small museum of an indispensable art form from the previous Vietnamese generations passing into today. Yet, ultimately, Hanoia is truly a “dating” house where people from different paths of life, from different aspects and perspectives come together for the love of lacquer, the deep perception for the Vietnamese culture, and the country itself. Hanoia connects the East and the West, the tradition and the modern, the Art lovers, and of course, the people who have a desire for the conservation of the past.
For more information about visiting ancient houses and traditional villages, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
All photos are credited to Hanoia.com and kienviet.net