A multi-media exhibition exploring the relationship between traditional crafts and contemporary design will open to the public on April 13 in Hanoi.
Hanoi-based fashion brand Kilomet 109’s collection is called Phieu, which loosely translates to "Unburdened Journey".
The exhibition is organised as part of the British Council’s "New for Old" initiative, a research residency that took place across Southeast Asia in December 2016, bringing together academics, artisans and contemporary creative practitioners to “find ways of looking backwards while moving forwards.”
|Phieu collection is accompanied by a series of photos, hand illustrations, music, video, and installations to present a story of traditional craft. (Photo courtesy of British Council)
The idea behind the Phieu collection is to “extract the essence of tried and tested knowledge and update it to fit contemporary design aesthetics and production”. For Kilomet 109 and its founder and principal designer Thao Vu, this has resulted in clothes that have woven into their fabric a continuation of traditional dyeing, weaving, and calendering techniques from four ethnic minority groups in northern Vietnam who Thao has been working with for the last year.
Thảo works closely with the artisans to both learn from and teach them in return.
“I don’t know how long I will work with the artisans, and I need to make sure that it is sustainable, that they value their own culture, and that they feel confident in making new designs if one day I leave,” she said.
Along with British Council researchers, Thao sat down with local artisans to learn about their everyday practice, how craft shapes their lives, families, and the communities around them, and what they are hoping to gain from spending hours every day crafting the fabrics.
The New for Old research team documented the work of eight artisans in the mountainous regions of Hoa Binh and Lao Cai and the various aspects of fabric production.
The exhibition is complemented with work from other creative disciplines: black and white photography by Nic Shonfeld, illustrations and prints of the natural materials and tools used in the process by Claire Driscoll, a short documentary film made from field footage put together by Pham Mai Phuong and a commissioned piece of music composed by Nguyen Xuan Son.
Phieu will open from April 13 until May 3 at the Hanoi Old Quarter Culture Exchange Centre, 50 Dao Duy Tu Street. The free entrance exhibition opens daily, from 10am to 7pm.VNA