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Young designer carves out niche in competition (Jan 29, 2003)

HCM CITY — The recent furniture design competition called Apricot Blossom 2002 has shone a spotlight on the budding talents of Vietnamese designers.

The country’s first wood design contest was organised by HCM City wood carvers and members of the Swedish community.

The romantic bedroom by designer Ly The Phong won the top prize of VND7.5 million (US$500) for the way it combines in one practical space a bed, a wardrobe and a small work table, reflecting the comfort city workers can enjoy.

The contest drew over 200 participants from around the country vying for national design trademarks and a promised 70 per cent of export revenue when their designs are created and sold.

The 27-year old designer will visit Sweden later in the year with his winning design model, "Multi-functional Bed," at a wood product exhibition to be held there.

All 23 prize-winning furnishings of Swedish timber are now on display at a showroom of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association in HCM City.

"The contest will take place once a year to encourage creativity among businesses and individuals. We hope to spot promising talents in the country, and help them contribute their skills to boost Viet Nam’s wood product exports," Nguyen Don, chairman of the association said.

HCM City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association, with strong support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Swedish Timber Group sponsored the event.

The works blend western and oriental features, the panel of judges said.

Part of the motivation for this contest is to improve domestic furniture designs both for domestic sale and for export.

"Viet Nam is potentially a high-quality wood products exporter," said Niels Sunvik, Consul General of Sweden, in HCM City. "The furniture exports are competitively priced, thanks to its highly-skilled work force of designers and artisans."

Over the last two years, the export turnover in wood products has risen to around VND 6,000 billion ($400 million), from VND 3,300 billion ($219.3 million) in 2000.

However, Vietnamese wood product firms still overlook the importance of investing in product designs and lack the marketing strategy to break into the international marketplace.

Today, many Vietnamese wood products are copies of western designs, and only 30-40 per cent of these are locally designed and produced, contest organisers said.

This year’s event attracted more than 200 participants, mostly from fine art colleges, decorative furniture firms and wood design companies.

The second prize of VND4.5 million ($300) went to a living room set designed by Nguyen Le Quang, 35, from the Tropicdane Company in Binh Thanh District. The third went to two designers, Tran Thi Anh Tuyet and Nguyen Khac Tuan, both from the AA construction and architectural company, for a joint work design model entitled "Joyful Chair."

Five other finals were given consolation prizes of VND1.5 million each ($100). — VNS

Reprinted with permisson from Vietnam News Agency


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