Returning to a quiet and meaningful celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival

 
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Like many of Vietnam's numerous beautiful festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival is rich with history, culture, and meaning. In the past decades, however, these familiar traditions have given way for the encroachment of modernity and the commercialisation of its customs. Where it was once celebrated only on the 15th day of the 8th lunary month, the festival has now become a month-long gift-giving frenzy, overshadowing its old principles of higher values and education, togetherness, and quiet celebration of the family.

Originating in China, the Mid-Autumn festival found its humble beginnings in the celebration of the full moon night that marks the end of the autumn harvest. It is said that this occasion commemorates the uniting of relatives, parents and children after a long and busy period of harvest, when they can spend meaningful time together as they celebrate the harvest and the full moon, the roundness and brightness of which symbolise the fullness of unity and the prosperity of life. Families gather and make offerings such as wine, fruits, and mooncakes to the heavens to express gratitude for the harvest. As such, the festival is traditionally very important to families, friends, as well as lovers, who take the occasion to reunite under the clear and beautiful full moon. In worship of its beauty, it is traditionally customary to write poems, handmake lanterns, and share moon cakes.

Today, centuries after the festival's conception, we at Authentique would like to encourage you to go back to those simple yet profound moments of singing children, handmade paper lanterns, and sitting around a table with your family and friends, meaningfully sharing in the gratitude for the abundance of life and love over freshly brewed Vietnamese tea and luscious moon cakes.

 
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In the spirit of unity and deep appreciation, we are delighted to offer you our delicious orange-ginger mooncakes* and our handpicked, exclusive seasonal specialty tea: a rich and earthy Jasmine blend from Thuong Tra. Combined with one of our beautiful Authentique tea sets, the tea and cakes will complement any home with an elegant simplicity and tranquility that reflects the dignified traditions and values that made the Mid-Autumn the beautiful and culturally meaningful festival that it truly is.

(*on every order at our boutiques over 1,000,000 VND)

 
 
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Mai Lan Cuc Truc

To Authentique, beyond the antique cultural value behind the symbols of Mai Lan Cuc Truc (Mai blossoms, Orchid, Chrysanthemum and Bamboo) found in the virtues of maintaining an air of nobility as well as honour and integrity in difficult circumstances, these four flowers are a quiet reminder of the gentle passage of time and of life. Summer transitions into Autumn, Winter melts and Spring arrives. In this such immutable cycle of life, despite all the seemingly relentless changes, it is through them that universal love and human beings can sprout and bloom.

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This Tet season, Authentique is proud to bring to you our Mai Lan Cuc Truc collection through the touching brushstrokes full of care and emotion of the talented craftsmen at Cam Ha pottery, and behind every meticulous line of embroidery at the Cam Giang textile workshop. The collections are a heartfelt and loyal tribute to our dear customers who are close at heart to Authentique’s philosophy for these many years, and are a bow of thanks to nature, our greatest teacher.

Authentique hopes that for these early spring days, you will spend more time with your loved ones, have a cup of tea with one another, watch the branches and remember that time is passing through the flowers. And because of that, we will love each other fuller and more completely.

A Gentler Philosophy

Delicately blending influences from Nordic New Design and the effortless grace of Zen from the East, Authentique’s East Sky - West Wind aesthetic seeks to breathe new life into the time-honoured beauty of traditional Vietnamese crafts. The arts of pottery, carpentry, and textile making are among the nation’s most beautiful long standing traditions, that, through centuries of growth and hardship, have survived the country’s tumultuous past in the modest pockets of the country in which the values of art and authentic craft making are still respected today. In upholding the dignity, passion, and hard work that have shaped these beautiful craft traditions over the years, we strive to reflect these same values in the heart of modern-day Saigon, an industrialised city now far-removed from nature and its own venerable past.

Why wood, ceramics and textiles? Because those are the oldest, most basic materials we humans use to make the things we live with: a chair, a bowl, a pillow. They make up our home. There we live the most agreeable and private hours of a day. Where living and being are one, it needs to be true and express faithfully the person that you are. In our modern world, we are over-stimulated with too many choices of things to buy. Yet most of the items offered to us are industrially and unlovingly made. Many of us have turned to simple and nature-inspired living as a way to reject living among too many sheer soulless objects, to escape the alienation of the materialistic and industrial age.

In aspiring to bring nature and its untouched beauty back into our daily lives, and to honour the true value of artisanal craft making in the modern era, Authentique’s aesthetic philosophy is centred around reflecting the true beauty behind these timeless inspirations as rooted in their organic, uniquely imperfect, and transient nature. With our own hands, we make the things you need in everyday life, and to them we add a touch of timeless beauty. In the same way a Japanese Zen garden attests its beauty in the subtle pebble movements and clay wall stains as weathered by the passing of time, Authentique’s ceramics find their grace in each piece’s naturally distinctive essence as weathered by the subtle finesse of the hand movements of our artisans, the organic variations in our natural production processes, and the non-uniform quality of our natural materials. Departing from Confucian ideals of symmetry and manufactured flawlessness, our aesthetic principles, such as that of colour and composition, find inspiration in asymmetry, intimacy, and humbleness: a stroke of paint, a flow of the wind, a sprouting of a seed. When an item has a natural and unique history, it becomes more sincere, more true to life, and infinitely more beautiful.

In a time where fine art is rather reserved for political and philosophical statements, the craft, more than ever, must become the bringer of pure and quiet beauty into your life. This is because objects made of wood, clay, and textiles, by hand, are the most necessary, beautiful, intimate, and comfortable things in our life. Every single piece is thus handmade with utmost care and dedication by our artisans, taking its time to come into being like no other as a unique manifestation of centuries of antique Vietnamese tradition and contemporary refinement. In this, we hope to create an organic and beautiful space in which the beauty of these crafts may radiate and blossom into a source of great pride and beauty for Vietnam. Through cultivating their undying love for nature and its immeasurable beauty, the skilled and passionate makers of the piece you are holding in your hand took their time and love to give it their best. With heartfelt pride and joy in our work, we sincerely hope that you may welcome into your home these beautifully handcrafted pieces for yourself and your loved ones to fall in love with as we have.

Vietnamese Patterns Recomposed

This Lunar New Year season, Authentique Ceramics would humbly like to bring you a little taste of the Ly-Tran dynasties' traditional lotus and chrysanthemum spring patterns in an apparition that is both brand new and yet truly Vietnamese - a Vietnam of the 21st century, in the year of 2015 in Saigon.

If in antiquity it was often preferred to paint in overflowing lavish patterns to express the talent and diligence of the artisans, then Authentique would like to introduce a new way of seeing these intricately Vietnamese motifs, with a simplified manner of painting and a sophisticated discernment for the art that is unique to the caring hands of the masters of the craft at the Cam Ha ceramics workshop.

Where strings lightly join, and branches softly meet, are found the delicate spaces in between where petals breathe and can be seen.

You will see the brush strokes hidden deep beneath every lotus petal sprout along the rhythm of each leaf, reminiscent of a prosperous and peaceful time amongst the villages, and know that the artisan ceramics tradition of Vietnam is still tenderly blossoming in the heart of the industrial age of the bustling and modern metropolis of Saigon.

The Ly-Tran lotus-string and Ly-Tran daisy-string patterns, botanic lotus and lotus-string patterns, after many years of turbulent historical vicissitudes, are painted on dining sets and tea sets to be used in the home. They suit perfectly as gifts of precious value for this traditionally unifying season, and for those who truly love the culture of this land that has been continually blossoming through its thousands of years of historical civilisation.

Christmas Sale

To honour the grand opening as well as our new lines of products, we have been holding a Christmas sale of up to 50% for almost a month as a way to say thank you to our beloved customers and friends this giving season. The final sales of the year will roll out within the next few days, so we welcome you to pay us a visit to see our lovingly decorated new store and to have a look at our gorgeous new creations. The sale ends on December 24th, 2014.

With heartfelt pride and joy in our work, we sincerely hope that you can bring these beautifully handcrafted items home for yourself and your loved ones to fall in love with them as we have.

GRAND OPENING

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On the 23rd of November, 2014, we were beyond humbled and pleased to announce the grand opening of our new shop at 113 Lê Thánh Tôn, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, and what was to be one of the most exciting moments in the 19 years since our conception. With the shop beautifully decorated with pine cones, plants, wildflowers and christmas lights, the magic in the air is undeniably endearing. It is a true, gorgeous Authentique space that we have long aspired to finally bring to life; one that is light and airy, modern yet gentle unto the senses. A space that fills you with joy with all that it has to offer; a space in which our ceramics, textiles and wooden furniture are delicately held together by the gentle curves of the plants and the leaves.

For the past 19 years, we have passionately endeavoured to unearth the true beauty of the Vietnamese ceramic tradition to the world, a tradition that has been largely overlooked and forgotten, buried deep under the scars left behind by our country's tumultuous and often violent past. For the past 19 years, we have committed ourselves to bringing back the beauty of Vietnamese ceramics to more people, both through the preservation of our antique heritage and the innovation of new designs and ideas. And for the past 19 years, perhaps even without knowing, we have been waiting for this very exciting day. Despite having been a renowned maker of Vietnamese ceramics among the Japanese for many years, we believe the day has long been overdue for us to reintroduce into the Vietnamese psyche the true value behind our extraordinarily beautiful ceramics tradition, a value of which we can truly be proud.

We would like to invite you to pop in at our new address and share with us the ecstasies and joys that are only made possible when one surrounds oneself with the beauties of nature and nature-inspired items. Our ceramics, textiles, and furniture are all handcrafted with great love and care by our dedicated artisans, and our cherished collection is sure to win your hearts and those of your loved ones at first sight and upon first touch. Come hold a ceramic bowl in your hand and truly feel for yourself all the centuries of hardships and triumphs behind one of the most beautiful lost traditions of the world.

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New Collections

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Over the autumn and winter, the Authentique team has worked with great passion to bring our new seasonal ceramics collections to life. Our new lines of products have been introduced over the past few months, and reflect the deep love and awe we feel for nature every day, from the wild daisies that adorn our workshops to Da Lat's mediterranean pine trees washed in the summer rain. This is a very special time for Authentique, as it is only the beginning. So far, the collections have been very well received, and will be developed gradually in full over the coming year. They are especially unique in that they have been designed in their entirety by our talented painters and artisans at our Cam Ha workshop. With their humble hearts and poised hands, our artists continue to translate their pure and sensitive vision of nature into the beautiful patterns and pictures we are so proud to see grace our ceramics today. Although limited in quantity for the time being, the first batches of our new designs now dignify our new shop at 113 Lê Thánh Tôn, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, with much more to come in the near future.

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Mandarin and Jade that come all the way from Vietnam

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Nobody can decide where they were born and raised but the decision to take roots in a land, I hope, is an individual and voluntary choice. Just like how it is with Authentique. We decide to make our presence known here, Vietnam - our homeland, because we believe it is overdue that Vietnamese deserve the best their homeland has got to offer. And we keep holding on to this land, no matter how long it takes them to realize.

Vy Huynh

Bookshelves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer:
Doan Thanh Nghia
Master Cabinetmaker:
Nguyen Van Duc
Workshop:
Authentique Cam Kim
Saigon 2013

 

Bookshelves
Oak and Red Sandalwood

Scented with a jasmine

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This is chè hạt sen (lotus seed sweet dessert).

Everyone in Vietnam knows that Huế, the old capital, is the place for this. They say that in the past, this delicate dessert was for the royal family only, and the lotus seeds had to be harvested from Tịnh Tâm pond inside the Palace. The seeds there, they say, are more fragrant, and the taste would remain in your memory longer than any other dessert can last.

My original plan for tonight was to make matcha shortbread for our upcoming tea party (yes, we are holding a tea party soon to welcome friends to our new launch). However, that did not work out and I decided to make this instead. At least, we can have a treat after a long working week.

Despite the simple look and ingredients, this dessert actually requires more effort than you think. First, lotus seeds are soaked in water to be softened. Although some would use diluted ash water, Hue people think this would take away the precious lotus scent, and they use pure water instead. The traditional Hue recipe would then steam the seeds instead of cooking them straight in water, as this preserves the flavour to its fullest. The cook would then prepare two pots of water, one very sweet and the other with milder taste. Rock sugar would be used, rather than refined sugar. Again, to keep it most natural. Steamed seeds would then be cooked in the sweeter pot at very low heat. The reason for the very sweet water pot is for the sugar to penetrate the seeds quickly, without making them too soft and therefore break the form. Once sweetened, lotus seeds are then transferred to the other pot, whose sweetness is carefully adjusted to taste.

The dessert is then served, with utmost care of how it it presented.

In the end, it is the effort and the heart that craft something beautiful.

Shall you join me for some sweetness?

Thao Ho

Darling marguerites!

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This is freshly out from our kiln. We are testing a few new designs to prepare for the upcoming festive season. So far the feedback has been positive.

Our online launching was such a success and the clock is ticking until the store launching day. Everyone is working and trying to their max, and I know we would make it. It feels great to be striving to achieve a meaningful goal together.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at our products as much as we have enjoyed making them. We will open online sales soon to bring these sweet treats to you. To your home.

Welcome to our home, Authentique! :)

Thao Ho