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City guides

Saigon and beyond

Tuhú ceramics

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Tucked inside Nguyen U Di street, a very charming and quiet area where you can see gorgeous bougainvillea blooming in every corner, Tuhú’s showroom sits behind a sunny yard with a pretty little garden. The owner - Hien - was quietly attending to some plants when I arrived. Once inside, I saw that there were in fact tons of interesting products to discover in this beautiful shop both from Tuhú and from other local vendors such as Meraki’s lovely dresses, Lê Mai Artisanal Soaps, botanical art prints and postcards from Indigo home. Hours quickly flew by as I investigated all Tuhú had to offer and had an enjoyable conversation with the owner

“Tuhú” is the Vietnamese word for a Koel, which is a type of Cuckoo bird found in Asia. This type of bird is notorious for laying their eggs in the nests of other species. Hien explained that the reason she chose Tuhú as her brand’s name was because she too was “borrowing” the essence of Lai Thieu ceramics in Binh Duong province to create her own line of ceramic wares. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Lai Thieu was known as Southeast Asia’s main ceramics market due to its accessibility from both land and sea.

Based on the traditional blue patterned ceramics and techniques from Lai Thieu, Tuhú aims to bring back the beauty of this style and to develop more fresh designs to suit modern tastes. Hien’s dream is to make beautiful, high quality, reasonable price ceramics so that everyone can enjoy them for everyday cooking and eating.

During our chat, Hien told me about the difficulties she had in building her own brand, and also how thankful she is for being here in the creative neighborhood of Thao Dien. It’s not easy to start a sustainable business especially in preserving traditional crafts, like ceramics. Her neighbors and friends have helped her tremendously by sharing space, exchanging products (instead of money), even bringing plants and chairs to her showroom. It all reminded me of the wonderful art village, Baan Kang Wat, in Chiang Mai. There, the network of artists support one another in many ways, helping each other to grow and succeed in achieving their dreams. Moving here to Saigon, I’m glad to find another such “art hub” to become a part of and contribute to.

Tuhu will have its own kitchen very soon, meaning there will be outdoor barbecue parties and live music for friends and customers like me to look forward to enjoying!

Tuhú Ceramics

Showroom & Store: 11/4 Nguyen U Di Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Hochiminh city, Vietnam

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Words by Kim & Scott Cordeiro. Photos by Thao Nguyen

Kim Anh Doan