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Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global: The city needs more iconic souvenirs

Wednesday, August 11, 2021, 11:42 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global: The city needs more iconic souvenirs
Rosy trumpet flowers are set against the blue background of the sky and the iconic Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Editor's note: The story was quoted from a project submitted by Honorary Consul Mauricio Alves on the behalf of the Honorary Consulate of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City, in response to the 'Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global' contest, an open forum for readers to contribute their ideas and solutions to raise the position of Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City in the international arena.

It was edited by Tuoi Tre News for clarity, consistency, and coherence. The title was made by Tuoi Tre News.

Objectives of the project: • To communicate Ho Chi Minh City’s vision • To promote Vietnamese designers and design • To promote eco-friendly products • To celebrate Ho Chi Minh City's iconic architecture • To attract a variety of visitors and travelers

We have already had many souvenirs from individual local designers and manufacturers available in the market.

What is missing now are souvenirs with:

a) A strong and clear communication theme and message about Ho Chi Minh City’s future development direction and vision;

b) Being centralized, controlled, promoted, distributed or endorsed officially by the government’s related departments;

c) Following a communication guideline checklist:

• Is this souvenir representing what the city is now?

• Is this souvenir representing how we envision the city in the future?

• Is this souvenir up to date with the trends in Vietnam and in the world? (For example: eco-friendly, customization, catchy colors, etc.)

• Is this souvenir connected and aligned with a wide variety of visitors Ho Chi Minh City is welcoming:

» New generation of young travelers, Millennials and Generation Z

» What do the mature travelers like in souvenirs in recent years?

» Investors

» Digital nomads

» Overseas Vietnamese

d) Extending a wide variety of design souvenir categories that Vietnamese products can offer in recent years;

e) Engaging personal stories around souvenir items:

• To make souvenir makers/producers/manufacturers feel they are acknowledged for their contribution to promote Ho Chi Minh City to the world

• To connect with international guests on an emotional level about how the souvenirs come to life

f) Portability control

g) Consistent quality control

Design souvenirs have been serving as 'memorial' products in history and design helps to deliver a message without words. Therefore, up-to-date design-related souvenirs are an effective, creative yet simple, portable way to promote Ho Chi Minh City’s vision to friends around the world.

A file photo shows souvenirs on display at a shop on Nguyen Thiep Street in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A file photo shows souvenirs on display at a shop on Nguyen Thiep Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

How will they contribute to advertising Ho Chi Minh City on a regional and global scale? Each design souvenir under this government-managed program will need to follow criteria/guidelines as stated above.

This will create a consistent and orchestrated communication message about Ho Chi Minh City’s development plan and our community to spread to the world.

With these up-to-date tailored-made Ho Chi Minh City souvenirs, we can say many things: we are young, vibrant, energetic, innovative, technological, sustainable, friendly, smart, and more.

Products can express themselves without words. When people use a product, they are more engaged with the memories around that product.

Portability factor and quality control are aligned under the government's relevant departments in order to minimize any negative impression from foreign friends about Ho Chi Minh City.

My suggestion is to have an annual design contest under one theme for Ho Chi Minh City's design souvenir products which can express our community’s uniqueness and update city development directions. With these we not only transmit and communicate an idea that our city is always innovative, creative and dynamic but we can also have an opportunity to engage our community in the process.

The finalists’ products in the design contest could be featured in an art exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City and perhaps abroad.

This is a great opportunity to:

• Brand products made in Vietnam

• Showcase the talents of a new generation of Vietnamese artists and manufacturers to the world

• Acknowledge the talents and contribution of the local artists for their contribution, including students from universities, institutes, young design professionals, etc.

• Have win-win product commercialization to incentivize the economy and the contribution from all parties:

» We can pay royalty for the designers

» International buyers feel good about their unique purchases contributing to the well-being and development of local artists and talents

» Income to selected manufacturers

Why do I think that a souvenir item/piece of furniture could help foreign visitors/guests remember Ho Chi Minh City? Because design souvenir items are made for that. It is carefully customized to make you remember the time when you stayed in the city. It is a memo object that carries its own message and characters.

I do believe that design products can express the infinite possibilities of Ho Chi Minh City. Also, I do believe that some of the existing ones are very nice but some need to be updated. These are creative processes the young generations of Vietnamese designers and international design communities in the city are very able to do. We should create products that are more representative of our city and community’s identity and under the same centralized communication message.

There are infinite possibilities of expressing the design intentions of Ho Chi Minh City. I’m suggesting two design souvenirs for the city:

Saigon Paper Chair:

The Saigon Paper Chair collection does not only include chairs made from cardboard. It deploys the idea of the use of recycled and easy-to-recycle materials. Characteristics of the product include: • Recycled paper • Wooden base • Resistant • Light • Endless possibility of personalization and customization • Furniture for interiors

Designs from the Saigon Paper Chair collection by the Honorary Consulate of Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

Designs from the Saigon Paper Chair collection by the Honorary Consulate of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

A design from the Saigon Paper Chair collection featuring Vietnamese banh mi by the Honorary Consulate of Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

A design from the Saigon Paper Chair collection featuring Vietnamese banh mi by the Honorary Consulate of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

City Hanger Collection:

Inspired by Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is a large marketplace in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and one of the symbols of Ho Chi Minh City, popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, ao dai (Vietnam's traditional long gown), and souvenirs, as well as local cuisine. Characteristics of the product include: • Metal • Resistant • Light • Easy to install • Modern • Millennial colors

Designs from the City Hanger Collection inspired by Ben Thanh Market by the Honorary Consulate of Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

Designs from the City Hanger Collection inspired by Ben Thanh Market by the Honorary Consulate of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

Inspired by the skyline of the financial district of Ho Chi Minh City

The skyline of the financial district of Ho Chi Minh City has become a symbol of the city in the last decade. The city center overlooking the Saigon River, in 2010, is enriched by the iconic silhouette of the Bitexco Financial Tower. This landmark has become the symbol of the city internationally and that of Ho Chi Minh City's growth.

Designs from the City Hanger Collection inspired by the skyline of the financial district of Ho Chi Minh City by the Honorary Consulate of Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

Designs from the City Hanger Collection inspired by the skyline of the financial district of Ho Chi Minh City by the Honorary Consulate of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global is co-organized by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of External Relations to prepare for the celebration of National Day on September 2.

For further information and how to take part, please click here.

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