Mount an old door leaf onto a bike wheel and you get Cyclo, a movable working unit. Compose patterned panels you can swivel to create the desired level of privacy and you get Spin It, a lightweight, foldable paravent.

These solid and durable products in traditional materials are created by Future Living Studio (FLS), a meeting of Vietnamese and western design minds in Hanoi that resulted in a collection of furniture, all made of bamboo and rattan. In a new edition, FLS is currently active in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The aim is to turn Vietnam and Cambodia from countries that just produce things into ones that design them too.

A second aim of FLS is to bridge the gap between designers and producers by involving both of them at all stages of development, from user research to communication with craftsmen. All the products in the collection made in FLS’s 3rd edition in Hanoi – the first two editions were held in Ho Chi Minh city – were developed with craftsmen from Xuan Lai, a company specialized in sold and smoked bamboo furniture, and Thanh Dat, a small workshop that produces furniture made of rattan, both located close to Hanoi.

Designers Tran Hoang, Nguyen Ha Phuong and Nguyen Thi Thu from Vietnam teamed up with Philippa Abbott (Australia), Michael Schuster (Germany) and Audrey Charles (France) for three months and produced prototypes that are both vernacular and sustainable. In addition to Cycle and Spin It, the collection includes Sit.And (office chair), Sen (multipurpose element), BB (workstation), Hai Den (stackable light), and XL Redesign (chair).

Vietnam is a developing country in which sustainability is viewed as a luxury and design rarely extends beyond appearance. FLS want to change attitudes by educating designers, producers and consumers, and by building a design community in Vietnam and neighbouring Cambodia with local and international partners.

The project is funded by SWITCH-Asia and Delft University of Technology.

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