Blackbird Fly

Saigon’s newest exclusive place for exclusive things

“A large shop selling miscellaneous goods” or “very strange or unusual”? It’s hard to describe which definition best fits Black Bird’s Bazaar (41 Street 41, D2), set to open in late September/early October. One side of the large space is anchored by Lacanche range cookers, equal parts luxury kitchen appliance and work of art, a home chef’s dream stove sporting five burners and three ovens, hand-forged in Burgundy, France. The other side is an explosion of colorful mosaic table tops with light reflecting off the Moroccan tables and chairs covered in intricately punched maillechort (a pewter-like metal alloy of zinc, copper and nickel). There are a few antiques scattered around the space for good measure, a circa 1900 Italian inlaid cabinet and a 1860 chest featuring detailed brass boulle work. But what stands out in a sea of standouts are two one-of-a-kind creations that defy labels. To call them a table and a lamp would seem an insult.

Oi Vietnam - OCT 2014_CS_Guillaume Yon_BW_IMG_6850_NTLike most artwork, the sleek freeform ‘table’ evokes thought. Some see a bit of the Starship Enterprise meets Ridley Scott’s Alien with a dash of yin and yang. “Actually my inspiration was things from the sea: a shark, fish. Also planes, boats and aliens. Mostly aliens,” laughs Guillaume Yon, the artist behind Kalista. The product of a 3am epiphany, Kalista was a three-month project comprising 86 layers of steel, welded together and then grounded to a fine finish. Guillaume then painted it using imported Ferrari California pigments, mixed according to the official formula. “I drew it in one go and then said, ‘Let’s build it.’ I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Technically and mechanically, this was a real challenge. If she was a solid piece of steel, she’d weigh a ton, easy,” says Guillaume of the 350kg structure. “Kalista means ‘the beautiful one,’ a figure of femininity. So the table is a ‘she.’ She’s a functional sculpture. It’s not fair to call her a table. Because of the finish, you have to be careful with her,” he continues, nervously eyeing a couple who have lightly touched Kalista. “All nice things require attention,” the swashbuckling Guillaume says with a mischievous smile.

Oi Vietnam - OCT 2014_CS_Guillaume Yon_BW__DSC3780_NT

Craving for Creativity

Born in France, Guillaume’s history is as eclectic as his showroom. “I grew up all over the place. I studied Biology but my interest in making things came from watching my father do all kinds of jobs. We lived in Spain for a time where my father made windsurfing boards and boats. I’ve always made things, too: boats, guitars, I’ve worked on cars, I’ve designed houses, I’ve been a musician for a long time… I’ve always been obsessed with the arts.” Back in the showroom, Guillaume runs his hand over an enormous 1.6m wheel, the iron rim of a 200-year-old Cambodian cart which he’s sandblasted smooth and installed dozens of LED lights around the inside perimeter. “There’s something about spiritual DNA from things that come before,” he says of repurposing artifacts. “A friend of mine bought a whole bunch of wheels from old carts. They were made from rosewood, teak, ebony ― precious woods literally left to rot. He didn’t know what to do with the rims, but when I saw it I immediately knew it was going to be a lamp.”

Oi Vietnam - OCT 2014_CS_Guillaume Yon_BW__DSC3794_NTA little over a year ago, Guillaume found himself in Indonesia searching for his next destination. A chance recommendation led him to Saigon where he “immediately got this feeling that there was so much to do. It’s inspiring,” he says. He feels his creativity has blossomed because of living here, not in spite of it. “I feel what I’m doing is purely original. Because there’s not much going on here, it’s not polluted by many outside influences. It pushes me to be more creative and more original in my inventions. [In Vietnam,] people are craving creativity. It’s easy to import things that have already been done. But the original…” he opines while gesturing towards Kalista. “There’s a new generation of artists and musicians who are creative in their own way, taking what they have and putting it into motion. The new beginning is interesting.” But is Vietnam ready for a USD23,000 range cooker or a USD40,000 Ferrari paint-coated sculpture? “The Vietnamese have started traveling, to be in contact with more and more influences and cultures, so of course, the interest will rise. The more you discover, the more you’re curious, the more refined you get in your own appreciation for things. When you know, you appreciate more,” he says of the showroom’s antiques and Lacanche line. “I live in Saigon. I live in Vietnam. Ideally, I’d like to have 100 percent Vietnamese clients,” he says. Guillaume is hoping to make the space a true bazaar, a collection of very different objects and styles. “This space is just a platform for things I really love.


Images by Ngoc Tran

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