Lack of modern pattern designers
Le Duc Ke, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bat Trang Trading Service and Tourism Joint Stock Company said the Bat Trang Ceramic Village lacks designers of modern patterns who identify trends and customer tastes. Artisans here are merely skilled craftsmen, but they’re not designers. Therefore, Bat Trang’s ceramic products are less competitive on the world market compared with foreign products of the same kind.
The Phu Vinh Village (Phu Nghia Commune, Chuong My District) is the cradle of Vietnamese bamboo and rattan traditional craft with more than 400 years of development. Nguyen Van Trung, a local craftsman, said the skillful crafts people and artisans have attached importance to designing patterns, but the results were imperfect and many products are made just for display and have no practical use, resulting in low effectiveness.
Luu Duy Dan, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Craft Villages said this shortcoming is common in many handicraft production establishments, especially small-scale ones. Due to limited resources, these production facilities cannot afford a separate design team and lack necessary conditions to research and understand the tastes of international consumers. Meanwhile, if they invest in the design segment, their products are likely to be imitated as the protection of intellectual property rights in Vietnam remains loose. Therefore, enterprises and handicraft facilities need State support in improving and creating new product designs.
Accompanying with craft villages, craftsmen
In order to help artisans improve their design capabilities to meet the consumer demand while retaining products’ traditional identity, the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade recently cooperated with the British Council in Vietnam to organize a consultancy on designing craft products, drawing the participation of a large number of artisans, crafts people and craft businesses in the city. Expert from the British Council offered recommendations on product colors, on practical use of craft items and gave advice on product designs.
Expert Claire Driscoll, an expert from the British Council who analyzes new design trends in the world said design work was the “soul” of products. Artisans and designers, she added, need to place products in a market-oriented position. Craft as well as fashion products need new patterns and models constantly and they achieve success if they meet consumer demand and taste.
Assessing the Hanoi Industrial Promotion and Development Consultancy Center and the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade in general, Nguyen Thi Han, the owner of Han Hanh Rattan and Bamboo production facility in Chuong My District said the advice of foreign experts was very meaningful, “raising our awareness of a more realistic, and modern view of the design work and of design changes required for craft products. Thus, we realize we need to change the design of rattan and bamboo products such as jewelry, bags, earrings, and bracelets.”
Hanoi is the leading region in Vietnam’s handicraft sector. In 2018, the export turnover of handicrafts reached US$192
million. However, products have not met the needs of the market, and their competitiveness is still weak compared to
similar products from other countries in the region.