A graduate from the Department of Product Design, at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture, in 2018, Huynh Nam has developed a special interest in the traditional cultural values of Vietnam.

When he was a child, Huynh Nam was presented with a colourful bamboo dragonfly, which can keep its balance and perch on anything, even though they are only made of bamboo, without any accompanying devices or motor. The toy, which was a typical product of the Thach Xa craft village in Hanoi, attracted great interest from Nam and fuelled his inspiration for the traditional material of bamboo, which he considers as a symbol of the soul and quality of Vietnamese people.

Many bamboo-made products have been created to serve the green living trends of customers, which have dominated over the recent years. However, most of the products are quite simple, mainly for decoration with less applicability.

Therefore, Huynh Nam wanted to create an electric household product, with feasibility and convenience, which is useful in every Vietnamese family. He sparkled with an idea of producing a bamboo electric fan.

Young designer Nguyen Huynh Nam

Instead of sketching the shape of the fan from the beginning, Nam decided to take the first step by studying the structure of bamboo, and the traditional techniques of processing, bending and shaping the material. His study helped him to work on the first sketches for the design. After finalising the design, Nam made the detailed drawing for his product.

It is not easy to work with bamboo. Many studies show that bamboo is an environmentally friendly material, with high durability and mechanical properties being 2-3 times higher than ordinary wood. Bamboo fibre is also stronger than steel, in regards to the tensile strength and having higher compressive strength, than many mixtures of concrete. If it is processed properly, this material can be used for hundreds of years, with more durability than many expensive materials.

Thanks to his research in advance, the design process for the fan went quite smoothly, as the finished product was about 95% similar to the drawing. The most difficult stage was bending and shaping the bamboo, as it required high precision in the use of heat and force. If the force is too strong or the temperature is not high enough, the bamboo may break.

Nam’s bamboo electric fan includes major parts, such as the base, rod, and fan grill. The fan has two separate engines, one to rotate the propeller and the other to rotate the body. Therefore, it can rotate up and down 180 degrees, and rotate left to right 120 degrees, to maximise the cooling area.

A bamboo electric fan by young designer Nguyen Huynh Nam (Photo: Ashui.com)

Nam’s creation fully boasts the rustic but luxurious, idyllic but distinct beauty, as well as the unique application of Vietnamese bamboo. The prototype product won high appreciation from judges at the Vietnam Design Week 2021, as it shows respect to traditional materials.

As a judge of the contest, Le Ba Ngoc, who is Vice President and Secretary General of the Vietnam Handicraft Exporters Association, hailed that Nam was a vanguard in using bamboo to produce an electric fan. “The creative and innovative potential of young people is amazing,” he said.

Although the price for the product has not yet been set. Nam’s preliminary calculation showed that the cost of the bamboo materials, electric motors and accessories are quite low. Thus, he believed that when it is put into mass production, the product cost will be very affordable.

It is heartening that Nam has received great interest from several investors. He hopes to build his own factory, to manufacture more products using natural and traditional materials.

There is still a long path ahead. But the recognition at Vietnam Design Week 2021, is a motivation for Nam and other young designers, to work harder to bring green materials to life.

Themed ‘Awakening Traditions’, the Vietnam Design Week 2021, was hosted by the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) in collaboration with Ashui Vietnam Corporation, ConsMedia Corporation and many professional partners.

It aimed to honour excellent Vietnamese designers and products, within five areas of design, including communication, living, decor and object, clothing, and public.

The programme included a series of activities, such as exhibitions, seminars, workshops and design shows, aiming to propel the development of Vietnam’s design industry in particular and Vietnam’s cultural and creative industries in general, thus increasing the value of Vietnam’s creative products on the global market.