2017 oversaw local establishments take inspiration from contemporary designers on the world’s stage. This is evident with the new entertainment complex Cask and nightclub Factory 075 in the Pham Ngu Lao area. Business owners know that eye-catching architecture and photogenic products are key to success in the social media age. Millennial Hue want to be competing with their peers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They have the artistic integrity and the city is giving them the space to produce it.
OO Cafe: Contemporary Art Cafe Hue
OO Cafe is the creation of local artist Phan Dinh Khanh. Khanh wanted to open a cafe that is modern, all-inclusive and has the facilities for art exhibitions. He employed Hue-based architect Phu Chi Kim Toan of Fu Atelier to make his vision a reality. The pair spent three months carefully designing every aspect of the cafe before opening in January 2018. Preparing and planning was time well-spent. The concept is delicately cosmopolitan and the trendy crowds the cafe attracts proves it is an early success.
OO Cafe is situated in the Citadel and is only one street from the Royal Palace. Nguyen Trai street separates the cafe from a small lake. Coffee drinkers perched in the window often contemplate over the duality of still water and passing traffic. Open from 6am to 10pm, the building itself suits all hours. Bright colours bring vibrancy to the cafe while a transparent roof protects it’s customers from turbulent weather. Out the back lies a well-lit gravel garden with furniture suited for groups that want to enjoy the outdoors either in dusk or Hue’s intermittent sunshine.
Coffee is served in both Vietnamese and international varieties. Ice-blends favor the sweet-toothed patron with matcha and caramel flavours for 32,000VND a glass. I personally recommend the blueberry smoothie (sinh to viet quat) for a yogurty splash of summer breeze on a hot day. Other soft drinks include fruit shakes, juices and red bull for good measure. Cappuccinos and short shots of caffeine are also available for the ‘no funny business’ consumer.
Khanh says that with his beverage choice, he likes to keep his coffee simple. An espresso with condensed milk is what he takes after breakfast to start his day.
The Owner and Hue Art
Khanh is a local photographer and artist who has held installations and exhibitions around Vietnam and South-East Asia. 2018 will be a busy year for the young artist with exhibitions in Saigon, Singapore and the Netherlands. Khanh designed OO Cafe with the intention of the cafe doubling up as a gallery in the future, featuring works by local and international artists. OO Cafe already displays some of his own work.
Born and raised in Hue City, Khanh has an adoration for his hometown’s tranquility. He finds inspiration from his surroundings, whether that is the people he meets, the stories he hears or the places he visits around Hue. He says his work in video and photography demonstrates a personal relationship between time and memory. The strong iconography in his work depicts an intimacy with familiar Vietnamese environments, both urban and agricultural.
When asked about the future of the art scene in Hue, Khanh said;
‘We just passed an incredible generation of local-based artists but the lack of funding to support their work has meant a decline in exhibitions and new projects. The art scene is still evolving but not at the pace it used to. Nevertheless, there are still a great number of artists that live here, it just takes some work to find them.’
99 Nguyen Trai
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