Although Tan My Design stocks some of the same traditional items, as its parent Tan My Embroidery, it’s predominantly a showcase for stylish, modern designer items and makes for a unique and calming shopping experience amid the mayhem of the streets of Hanoi.
Established in 1969 at 66 Hang Gai, Tan My Embroidery has spanned three generations and sells hand-made embroidered clothing, homewares and accessories. The story goes that during the war years Madam Bach started to embroider pillow cases and also embroidered messages from loved ones on handkerchiefs, which the soldiers carried with them throughout the war. The shop on Hang Gai is named after her two eldest sons, and the business is now run by her daughter, Huong, and granddaughter, Thuy Linh, with the focus still on high-quality embroidered items.
Tan My Design opened in 2009 opposite the original shop, and retains the values of quality and service, but its style and offerings are very different.
From the street, the shop at number 61 Hang Gai draws in customers with its plate-glass frontage giving a glimpse of the goodies within. The ground floor displays a few select items including jewellery, clothing and pieces from its Art Deco Collection, but this is just a taster. Head upstairs for more treats.
Unlike most of the shops in Hanoi, which focus on selling one type of good, Tan My Design is a real emporium. Homeware items span soft furnishings, including printed cloth placemats and squidgy bedspreads, as well as lacquer and ceramic pieces. While these are commonly found in Hanoi’s souvenir shops, many of the designs are unique. We particularly like the Buddha head paperweights, designed by Jacques Blanchard, and animal lacquer boxes, by Pascal Dang.
Clothing is well represented, with mannequins dotted around the store displaying new additions and racks of clothes ready and waiting to be tried. Although the range is mostly for women, a men’s section is located on the top floor. Designers include Valerie Gregori McKenzie, Thuy Design House and Lolo Zazar.
The jewellery on offer is big and bold, certainly not for shrinking violets. The same could be said for the Gate 66 collection by Valerie Cordier, contemporary pieces with a touch of Vietnam.
Tan My Design Cafe is located at the rear of the building and is a haven of peace and quiet — except for the pianist softly playing from the mezzanine level. The menu includes drinks, snacks and meals and although not cheap, it’s a good spot for a coffee and cake break.
Goods here are not not cheap — if you’re looking for budget souvenirs to take home, head elsewhere on Hang Gai or the surrounding streets, but for quality, stylish items that will last as a souvenir of your trip to Hanoi, this stands out among several other good choices.
By Sarah Turner
Last updated on 12th November, 2014.