DK’s Atelier S P A C E made zines with teammates in Vietnam in real life, over a period that stretched from fall 2020 to fall 2021. During this extended period, our work for the zines took on a curious, yet highly relevant, theme. Time.
With titles like ‘A Cool Evening,’ ‘Here and Now,’ and ‘Summer Noon’, the set was moving in a particular direction. The concept was emerging, organically. Soon it was clear. We could settle on a motif. Of a leaf.
That’s how it started. Atelier S P A C E Ho Chi Minh City Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 Art Director Van Tran, who is a chef and a photographer, worked with Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli in HCMC to make the art books, zines, and journals that he led the art direction for. Cutting, collaging, and cooking, the team made a popup restaurant series, too: ‘New Cuizines,’ along with soft paper books using dó papers for ‘The Book of Feelings’ issues of S P A C E, too. According to Wikipedia, ‘dó paper is a paper made from the inner bark of the dó tree and traditionally produced in many villages in Vietnam.’ We also used packaging papers found around the day to day of our lives, collaging here and there to make books like these:
Unique and handmade: those were the aims.
Could Design Kompany brand and package it? Could DK express the feeling of meticulous and handmade, but with a subtle touch of a modern sophistication, too?
That was the design directive. And that’s how we made, together, the brand identity design for Lá.
Kohli had originally flown to Dalat to deliver an experiential workshop for a large NGO, but got stranded when the borders closed in March 2020. ‘What’s remarkable to me,’ says Kohli, ‘is that ultimately I found myself more inclined to work with the people I met on my own. Instead of networking, which had been the entire point of the retreat that brought several dozen people together thanks to EU funding, I gravitated to those I found. Much like in other countries, on other travels. I discovered people who were real, honest, intriguing, curious, and thoughtful. I found out that most people in Saigon that I would meet were “so busy, just so busy” and that they had zero interest in what I was trying to create. Why make art, they seemed to be asking. What the hell is the point. After a while, I just took to watching the street. We made ‘Street Museums,’ a special issue, in collaboration with a poet in Europe, IK. The street, for me, is where the fun is. It’s more true, more real, and delightfully more informal. Which suits me better, anyway.’