London Design Biennale Pavilion Debuts in Hanoi

Hanoi – June 2020

The Vietnam pavilion from the London Design Biennale debuted in Hanoi at Manzi Art Space this month. The exhibition marked the successful showcase of the pavilion in Vietnam, and the first time exhibiting in front of a Vietnamese audience.
In 2018, Kilomet109’s founder, Thao Vu, was commissioned by the University of Leicester to produce a conceptual design installation based on her work with traditional Vietnamese textiles and natural dyes. Titled Khải, meaning revelation, the pavilion is the collaborative effort of three artists: Thao Vu – Founder and Creative Director of Kilomet109; Giang Nguyễn – Design Professor at RMIT in HCMC; and, Lê Thanh Tùng (Crazy Monkey) – a pioneering Video Artist. The entire project was curated by Claire Driscoll of Workroom Four and the installation consisted of two rooms exploring contemporary interpretations of traditional textile production.
Room one, called The Dyeing Lab, is a still laboratory of frozen natural dye techniques and processes, a visual manifestation of the dialogue between traditional Vietnamese craft communities, environmentally and culturally sustainable practices, ingredients and processes within contemporary textile design. The installation presents the full cycle of Thao Vu’s textile techniques, broken down into its component parts, before being reincorporated and reimagined into new kinds of sustainable textiles. 

The Study is an interactive video installation revealing the processes involved in the Dyeing Lab.

The second room is called The Study. It’s an interactive video installation showing the processes involved in The Dyeing Lab. The Study openly engages the viewer with the tactile and subversive elements of making involved in sustainable design processes. Naturally dyed fabric hangs in layers around the room and video mapping shows the natural dye processes used to create the fabric. This is overlaid with investigations into Vietnamese language and type, playing on the tonal uniqueness and diacritics of the Vietnamese language. This room was based on video footage shot by Vu Thao and mapped together by videographer Lê Thanh Tùng with overlaying typography created by graphic designer Giang Nguyễn

 Phung  Overcoat from the Mien collection. This overcoat is made from linen fabric naturally dyed indigo in Cao Bang.  

The Dyeing Lab on exhibition at Somerset House in London, U.K, in 2018.

The Khải exhibition was originally created for the London Design Biennale 2018 held at Somerset House. 

It is estimated that the Khai pavilion was seen by some 40,000 people during its initial run at Somerset House in London. While the Hanoi audience numbers were more modest in comparison, they were no less enthusiastic. Scores of design enthusiasts, particularly young people, flocked to the exhibit to explore the installations and learn about Vietnam’s long history of sustainable textile practices.  
After three weeks of exhibition at Manzi, the Khai pavilion was moved to its permanent home in the main lobby of the British University of Vietnam, in Hanoi. It can now be viewed there as part of their permanent art collection.