For our Saigon "insiders" map, commissioned by Design Bureau, we sought to create a single piece, which would look and work as a tourist's map initially, but give a more personal view into “our” Saigon. We began by asking each other what we loved about Saigon. As long time residents, and locals, it was a loaded question which sparked a constellation of visual snap shots. Hidden alley food shops, camera shops & architectural delights all hovered and buzzed around our heads. Hundreds of spots around the city paint the true picture of what Saigon is like in each of our minds. We recorded the top spots, & eventually reduced the studio's communal hot spots into a set of graphic icons. The icons were then pinned to their origin on a map of the city's old center.
Saigon is peppered with hand painted signs that hark back to bygone days. These graphic and typographically excellent signs are intrinsic to Saigon's visual character. To complete our map, we needed it to be more ingrained in that visual history of the city. We commissioned long practiced sign painter, Mr.Trần Khôi to recreate our designed map in his style. It's not the first time we've enlisted time-honored talent to craft our idea into a finished piece. In this instance especially, the hand of this artisan added a crucial aesthetic and local signature that completed the concept.
Neil’s Documentary approach to photography was integral to capture Mr. Trần Khôi in action, and nail the final shot for the magazine.
What we hoped to create was something that spoke of multiple time frames of the city. The map hints at the experience one gets while walking through Saigon's streets somewhere between a shining new glass and steel structure, and a soup sellers cart which has been an institution for many long years.