The industrial style has been all the rage in interior design, with its simple, unfinished feel.
Meet District Eight, a Vietnam-based furniture design firm that prides itself on creating handcrafted furnishings that combine industrial elements with modern aesthetics. Founded in 2010, the company is named after District 8, the urban district of Ho Chi Minh City, where the company’s first factory was located at. District Eight creates quality work inspired by the industrial age, and its collections reflect the raw, bold character of the city it’s based in.
Darren Chew, Founding Director of District Eight, speaks with IFFS about the company’s history, new collections, and more. Read on to find out more about their path to success!
1. District Eight initially started out as a project to preserve and develop historically significant buildings, objects, and warehouses in Ho Chi Minh City. Tell us more about how District Eight slowly expanded to include designing and producing furniture.
I’ve always been involved in creative pursuits, and I started out as a chef in Australia — where I was born — before I turned my hand to fashion, which brought me to Vietnam. After spending some time in Ho Chi Minh City, I found my love for food again and opened L’Usine restaurants and retail spaces. Located in heritage buildings, L’Usine’s original two venues ignited a desire in me to preserve the colonial architecture of my new home, and I started District Eight, through which I designed my first industrial styled collection.
I decided to debut a selection of District Eight’s industrialised designs at IFFS 2010, where it received high acclaim from international buyers and press. IFFS was a great stepping platform for the brand, and was where we signed a distribution agreement with one of North America’s most influential distributors. District Eight is a natural progression from L’Usine, and is now becoming a must-have brand in more than 20 countries.
2. Are you launching a new collection at IFFS 2018? Tell us more about the pieces in the collection.
Over the years, we’ve launched new collections at IFFS, and next year won’t be any different. 2018 will see District Eight further explore its modern industrial aesthetic, with a few surprises thrown into the mix. There will be new options for District Eight’s sculpted concrete pieces, and updated wood finishes in the Salk and Kahn collections. Our seating collection will also feature new pieces, where new leather colours and soft fabrics will be added. These new additions will create a new concept for District Eight, as our designs are mostly known for its masculine styling.
Our 2018 collections will also focus on functionality. Our multi-purpose Stacking Benches and Drift collections offer buyers products that are the very definition of function and form. The Stacking Benches collection easily transforms from a seating area into a unique storage option for books and other knick-knacks. A wall mounted system, the Drift collection is versatile, and can be used in many kinds of spaces, including commercial, home, and retail spaces.
3. What inspired these new designs?
Our designers often find inspiration in brutalist architecture, specifically, the work of American architect Luis Kahn. We also take inspiration from Ho Chi Minh City, as there’s a prevalence stern aesthetic in the city’s buildings and bridges.
4. What sets the new designs apart from the old ones?
Industrial is, and will still be in the DNA of District Eight. Over time, we have moved away from vintage inspirations, and now, our designs have an industrial appeal, but with a more contemporary edge.