, L Usine

Home & Decor (Malaysia) - - De­sign Buzz -

Right in the heart of the city’s cre­ative boom is L’Usine, a life­style con­cept store and Saigon in­sti­tu­tion where young, hip ur­ban­ites come for re­tail ther­apy and cof­fee. Tucked away off the busy shop­ping belt of Dong Khoi St in an art ar­cade chock-a-block with re­pro­duc­tion paint­ings, the store lives in a derelict build­ing that has sur­vived the rav­ages of both war and time since the 1800s.

Upon reach­ing the sec­ond floor, L’Usine emerges as a multi-pur­pose space: there is a bistro on the left, a cosy cafe­te­ria on the right and a bou­tique with a pop-up ex­hi­bi­tion space at the back.

L’Usine is the clos­est thing to a branch of Ur­ban Out­fit­ters you’ll find in Ho Chi Minh City. This is a place where stee­land-con­crete in­dus­trial rough­ness is won­der­fully jux­ta­posed with the soft, time­less el­e­gance of the by­gone In­dochina era. The cafe­te­ria is decked out like a can­teen and is il­lu­mi­nated by a del­uge of nat­u­ral light, which comes stream­ing in through huge win­dow­panes.

Dot­ted around the room are com­mu­nal benches, mar­ble­topped ta­bles for two, wrought-iron chairs, French posters and maps of In­dochina. With old sewing looms dou­bling as gi­ant ta­bles with solid iron legs and heavy tim­ber pan­els, it’s easy to recog­nise the in­dus­trial roots of L’Usine’s for­mer life as a gar­ment fac­tory. Such pieces of in­dus­trial ma­chin­ery eas­ily in­duce both nos­tal­gia and per­haps a bit of grat­i­tude that you now don’t have to work at this heavy ma­chin­ery, but can in­stead sit on it and en­joy a cof­fee. One of the pe­riod de­tails, namely its shut­tered win­dows, are clev­erly used to sep­a­rate the space from other ar­eas. The ad­join­ing bou­tique – a gift shop­per’s dream – opens out onto a New York-style lofty space with wooden beamed ceil­ings, pol­ished con­crete floors and iron-framed win­dows. Here you can stock up on many one-off items with brands from across the world: Viet­namese brand Co­chine’s home fra­grance and can­dles, Mar­shall head­phones, Cheap Mon­day Jeans, and Happy Socks from Swe­den.

151 Dong Khoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, tel: +84(8)-6674-3565, http://lusines­pace.com.

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