Ruben Luong discovers artisan-inspired homeware with modern touches. Photos courtesy of Sadec District.

As the seventh longest river in Asia, the Mekong stretches through Burma, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. But it also delivers to Vietnam all of its treasures: crafts inspired by artisan villages and designed by District 1 retailer, Sadec District.

From Long Xuyen, Sa Dec and the southwest provinces of Vietnam upstream to Pakse, Vientiane, Tonle Sap, Bangkok and Yangon, Sadec District’s designers create homeware that reflects the different craftsmanships of folk artisans in the region.

This multiculturalist ideology fills Sadec District with organic colour and charm, and its exotic aesthetic is welcomed within the young and artsy shopping grotto that is 3A Station on Ton Duc Thang Street by the Saigon River.

Precious collections of tiny polished ceramics, wooden containers, handweaved baskets and Ikat pillows from the region are delicately displayed in a clean wooden floor space. “For sure we want to promote nice and beautiful products, and for sure it must be functional,” says Tri, a product developer at Sadec District.

“The designers sketch an image of what they want and I try to make it similar but it cannot be exact. Weaving rattan, for example, is not easy, and there are different methods, so we have to try to adapt it.”

Tri, who previously worked at IKEA Vietnam and whose nickname is ‘Bamboo Tri’ for his tall and lean silhouette, explains that Sadec District often has the same quality requirements as IKEA.

“The shop has functional products but are also food safe,” he says. “For example, a simple wooden chopping board. There are a lot of chopping boards in Vietnam but the treatment may not be good based on what we know. So I use a neutral treatment for cutting boards by applying cooking oil after it is sanded. Other coatings in the country may not be as safe.”

Vanessa, 33, a French expat who moved to Ho Chi Minh City with her husband four months ago, visited Sadec District in order to decorate her apartment in District 1.

“I’m looking for mostly things for the kitchen, so this is a great place,” she says. “I want my place to be quite natural style, very simple, close to nature, a lot of wood and very pure design.”

Sadec District is divided into three main product lines, including the Sadec Collection which features original brands from Vietnam and abroad, a mix and match of selected products from local artisans and finally Sadec Design, which is designed by the shop’s team of three designers.

“I like it here because you may want to buy things you can use maybe later on,” Vanessa says. “They can be souvenirs. Things that are special, but that you can recycle and use if you live in or move to another country.”