Spotlight on new talent in Vietnam

Competition attracted a record 331 entries, all created using American red oak from the American Hardwood Export Council

Cham Shelf (L) is in Indigo stain with red Vietnamese lacquer detail. The Moon Cabinet (R) is stained American red oak with brass and rattan inlay.

The Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Vietnam (HAWA) and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) recently announced the finalists and winners of the 17th Hoa Mai Furniture Design Competition.

All entries this year were created from American red oak, the most abundant species in American hardwood forests. There were over 331 entries, 269 of which were from university students.

The judging panel narrowed this down to a shortlist of 23, from which nine eventual category winners were chosen.

Nguyen Hoa, and a two-member team, Vu Thanh Nam and Nguyen Khanh Linh, won first prizes in the competition, the former for his ‘Cham Shelf’ and the latter for their ‘Beo’ chair set.

Le Long Vinh and Huynh Thanh Quyen were also awarded a special prize, presented for the first time in the annual competition, for their ‘Floating Market Bench’ inspired by the floating markets in the Mekong Delta.

Vo Ngoc Nguyen and Quach Minh Quan won second prizes for their ‘Asian Feels’ dining table and ‘Minnaar’ chair. Honourable prizes were awarded to Nguyen Thi Kim Thoa (Smart Desk), Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang (Re-Cabinet),

Duong Thi Minh Ngoc (Propulsion Chair) and Le Phuoc Dang Huy (DakWak Chair).

According to HAWA, the furniture industry in Vietnam is targeting sales of US$20 billion by 2025 and is looking to move away from doing mainly sub-contract work to original design.

To achieve this goal, improving value addition on wooden products is imperative. Increasing investment in product design will help the industry shift from manufacturing furniture based on designs provided by buyers to original design manufacturing, resulting in greater revenues.

Entries for the competition were judged on their appearance, ideas and the ability to be produced on a large scale. As testament to the quality of design on display, some furniture companies bought the copyrights for many of the designs.

American red oak (Quercus rubra) is an attractive oak with distinct reddish-pink tones. It is similar in appearance to white oak, but with a slightly less pronounced figure due to the smaller rays and a more porous end grain structure.

American red oak is the most abundant species in America’s hardwood forests and is used for flooring and a wide variety of furniture and building applications. The wood is hard and heavy, with medium bending strength and stiffness and high crushing strength. It is very good for steam bending.

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