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The Wandering Designer: Vietnam, the beauty of balance.

Article by Matteo Rostagno in Web Design -

This is the third article in a series by Interaction Designer and Jury member Matteo Rostagno, who shares with us his adventures discovering the web design scene across the world. In the last installment, we left Matteo in Cambodia, here he continues his traveling tales in Vietnam.

The third stop of this journey brought me to meeting with Vu Le, the proud owner and Managing Director of boutique digital studio Đom Đóm. Vu has a stimulating story, he used to be the lead graphic designer in a renowned online magazine in Vietnam, but in 2009 he fell in love with the digital industry, he tells me:

image of Vu Le
Vu Le, the proud owner and Managing Director of Đom Đóm
I realized that digital and the internet were going to change everything in our life. So I Ieft graphic design behind to start getting some experience and then open my digital company. Thank God I was right, and we have Đom Đóm Studio today.

A first understanding of Vu’s vision came from the name of his company: Đom Đóm means fireflight and the logo conceptualises the 3 main values that the company follows: keep dreaming, keep your creativity, keep it balanced.

We began our conversation by talking about how the industry works and how studios like his succeed in his country. Vietnam now is one of the most dynamic emerging countries in the South East Asia region. With a population exceeding 96 million, a median age of 30, and internet penetration standing at 50 million (or just over 54% of local population) Vietnam is a young and dynamic market representing a huge commercial opportunity for brands, marketers and investors. Vietnam digital trends emerge fast in this exciting consumer space but, compared to other fields, web design is still quite small, Vu says. In the advertising field, for example, the majority of investments goes to the social platforms.

A curious fact to keep an eye on is that there is a huge and growing housing market, and investors are really keen to understand how new digital technologies could help their business to reach and engage more people. Vu poruldy tells me that:

We are the first company in the country who developed VR experiences based on an Unreal engine, in a market where everything is about Unity and Microsoft Hololens.

He is pretty clear when he describes the business: “There is some lack of education from the clients: a good part of our job is about counselling and explaining how our team could help grow their business. And it’s not always easy”. He explain they have a solid design process structured by different phases, involving their clients before moving to the building process.

However, it came across immediately clear how balance and timing are very important for him. I asked what he does for inspiration and he told me that he loves to go away from the city to enjoy the amazing beauty of his country. He said: “I love to drive out the city and relax on the way. The peaceful vibes of being immersed in nature give me new energy. Everything could inspire me: the curves of the road, the flowers, the fields of rice…” He loves to take pictures and to reconnect with the environment, so nature becomes a big source of inspiration on his design process.

image of a web page by Đom Đóm with a white flower on a blue background
Nature continually inspires their projects

Traditions have a strong presence in Vietnam and it is evident how much they are part of everyday life, designers included. We had a really fascinating conversation about it: like everywhere in the world, most of their clients are requiring original solutions to distinguish them from competitors, but they often end up by asking for ordinary design solutions based on the customary inspirational brands. We agreed on saying that, in a world where new trends tend to make everything look like quite similar and conformed, traditions could play an important role in adding distinctiveness to a project.

Vietnam has a big community and tradition of graphic design: Behance is very popular and they organise a big conference every year. But Vu told me that only a small part of this community is really interested in web/app design.

Younger generations here are trained to become traditional graphic designers and most of them think they could do interaction design as well, but is not the same thing. I hope I can connect with more people in communities like Awwwards to helps the digital design to become more engaging here.

There are few schools specialised in digital fields: “Younger generations here are trained to become traditional graphic designers and most of them think they could do interaction design as well, but is not the same thing. I hope I can connect with more people in communities like Awwward to helps the digital design to become more engaging here.” The creative scene in Vietnam seems to be going through a renaissance phase. Vu told me that whichever the field - design, art, music, fashion or architecture - there is a ferment of small and medium scale businesses.

image of pho soup
Vu invited me to his preferred place to have a delicious Phở for breakfast.

I would like to add that it doesn't matter which field we were discussing, my perception is that everything follows some unwritten rules of balance between working, personal and spiritual time. From the fantastic food to the traditional art, to digital design, finding the equilibrium seems to be common thread in this country.

Interviewee

Vu Le, owner and Managing Director Đom Đóm.

Coming up Fiji, follow this space for Matteo's next adventure!