Starting design studios in SE Asia

In 2010, I started my Ph.D. research project at Delft Technical University. The research project was part of the EU funded, SWITCH-Asia, Sustainable Product Innovation Project (SPIN) Project. The SPIN project aimed to support sustainable product innovation in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in the furniture, handicraft, footwear, food, and fashion industries.


I designed and founded the Future Living Studio concept to stimulate cross-cultural explorations on sustainable product design in Saigon, Vietnam as a part of my Ph.D. thesis project.

The Future Living Studios cross-pollinated sustainable design knowledge by engaging local designers, international designers, local producers, partners, and the greater design community in a co-design process.

Each studio brought together a cross-cultural design team of 3 local, 3 international designers to work with a small cluster of local companies (2-3). The designers developed a collection of products exploring sustainability potentials with local materials and craftsmanship for a period of 5 months.

Process

In these studios, designers worked together to envision what sustainability could look like in Vietnam through developing visions and products from the starting point of local production and materials. We worked with bamboo, rattan, water hyacinth, terra cotta, and wood.

The approach was an intensive learning-by-doing process of exploration and iteration. We worked with producers and users to go through the whole design process covering visioning, ideation, concept development, prototyping with producers, testing, and exhibition & dissemination (See image below: from left to right, top to bottom).

Figure 1

Replication and transfer

Following the success of the first two editions Future Living Studio was replicated in the North of Vietnam and in Cambodia under new management.

Editions:

      • Sustainable tourism in Vietnam (Saigon, 2012)
      • Sustainable living in Vietnam (Saigon, 2012)
      • Green offices (Hanoi, 2013)
      • Sustainable tourism in Cambodia (Phnom Penh 2013)

Outcomes

The four studios developed product prototypes that were exhibited domestically and internationally at the Lifestyle Fair (2012), VIFA Home Fair (2012), Goethe Institut Hanoi (2013), and MetaHouse (2014). The project and designs were featured in local, expat, and international magazines including Wallpaper* Magazine.

In addition, the studios also built up a rich community of design practitioners around the project.


  • Client: Representing the TU Delft in the EU SWITCH-Asia, Sustainable Product Innovation Project.
  • Dates: 2011-2014
  • Roles: Founder, researcher, project leader (Future Living Studios in Saigon), consultant (Future Living Studios in Hanoi and Phnom Penh)

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