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RESEARCH INTRODUCTION Building a future with terracotta is a project aiming to design a new tangible product with an applicable implementation plan for the craftsmen in Thanh Ha, a terracotta village in Vietnam. The product will be directed towards hotels and resorts. It will give people from Thanh Ha the opportunity to show their craftsmanship and provide them with new possibilities for the local market. By making use of the knowledge, expertise and detailing qualities that the craftsmen can offer, we want to create a product that is preferred over factory produced products. The product will have to provide the terracotta village with income for now as well as on the long term. This booklet contains the results gathered in the research phase of the project. The research consists of three parts. The first part of the research takes place in Hoi An and surroundings. This part consists of observation of Vietnamese and Champa culture in the area. The second part of the research takes place in Thanh Ha. Research is done through observation of the craftsmen and the village life and through

interviews with three craftsmen.

The third part of the research concerns hotels/ resorts in Hoi An and surroundings. This part consists of observation at three hotels and/or resorts in the area, questionnaires from hotel/ resort guests and interviews with hotel/resort owners.


CONTENT Part 1 Culture

Champa & Hoi An culture Champa human figures Champa animals Champa patterns Hoi An objects Hoi An sculptures Hoi An patterns


7 8 12 15 24 26 30

Part 2 Thanh Ha


Part 3 Hotels and Resorts


The village Meet the craftsmen The interview Around the house Most beautiful ... Most proud of ... Best selling ... Earnings Typical Vietnam Typical Hoi An TypicalThanh Ha

Accommodations in Hoi An Palm Garden Resort Victoria Beach Resort and Spa

37 38 40 41 42 43 44 45 48 50 52 55 56 58

Hoi An Beach Resort Style Colour Materials Characteristic objects Managers about terracotta

60 62 63 64 67 70

Part 4 Tourists




Tourists in Hoi An Typical Hoi An Typical Vietnam Terracotta for in hotels Questionnaire overview Attractive about the accommodation Preferred change Most liked... Best location Vietnamese style Style preference Best liked terracotta...  Best fit terracotta... 

73 74 76 78 80 82 83 84 87 88 89 90 93


CHAMPA & HOI AN CULTURE1 From about the 4th century till the 11th century, the Champa kingdom dominated the south of Vietnam. Shiva and Uroja are important figures who are depicted as vigorous man or lingam (Shiva) and as breast and nipples (Uroja). These icons can be found in statues that were mainly found at the ruin site of My Son and are shown in the Cham museum in Da Nang. These sandstone statues give a good impression of the different elements in the Champa culture. In this chapter the elements are split up in three often appearing main directions: Champa human figures Champa animals Champa patterns

The main focus for the research is on the visual appearance of the elements and on how these elements can come back in a after-modern product. Which highly visible elements can be easily recognized and how can they be associated with Champa culture? The elements are clustered to find recurring patterns or similarities that can be a source of input for product design.

With a similar focus the patterns and elements in the streets of Hoi An are observed and described in this part.

CHAMPA HUMAN FIGURES Human and gods are recurring element on buildings or as statues. The gods are often presented with their symbolic meaning like the linga (middle one on the right page). A selection of figures is shown on the following pages.


Nature is an important element in the Champa culture. The most returning animal is the lion. Also dragons, birds and elephants are often seen.


Almost as important as the statues itself are the patterns that fill up the frameworks on the statues. It can be seen as decoration that is filled up with decorative patterns. The pattern styles differ from straight geometric to organic and curly.

Straight lines orientated in different ways to create a range of patterns. Sometimes in combination with circles or curved lines.

Combining the line patterns with circles, diamonds or triangular shapes leads to impressive combinations of simple patterns.

Circular patterns also occur as the main element of a pattern. They are still quite simple but extension or multiplication of the same pattern often becomes an impressive whole.

In comparison to the circular patterns, these lotusrelated patterns are more elegant and often with more eye for details. Nature elements are a common influence for detailing.

This pattern often seems to represent hair or feathers (right bottom). It is really characteristic for Champa culture and can be seen in almost all of the statues.

Some other patterns found might not directly fit in a category but are worth mentioning. The ‘breasts’ on top of this page are part of the linga. The other two pictures have a geometric appearance with an elegant touch.


When arriving in Hoi An for the first time, there are some elements that distinguish Hoi An from other Vietnamese cities. These elements can be found in the streets of Hoi An. Located near the front doors of the buildings wooden facades with golden letters can be found, this style is obligated by the government together with the use of the typical dark wood. Influenced by Chinese culture ,two eyes can be found above the door to ward back bad luck. On the streets the locals wear conical hats against the sun.

The most outstanding object of the Hoi An streets is the lantern. In many different forms and colours it decorates the streets, shops, food places and hotels.


In the sculptures found in the city of Hoi An a few main influence can be recognized. A great part comes from the Champa culture, next to that, there are Chinese and Japanese influences brought to Hoi An by sailors in the past who had to wait four months every year before the wind was right to sail back.


Also in Hoi An patterns are an important way of decoration. In contrast to the Champa patterns, the patterns here are decoration in itself rather than a fill up of a framework. Geometric patterns are often preferred over curvy ones.

Combinations of these geometric figures with circles or circular patterns are widely found. On the bottom right picture, the square surrounds a symbol called the happiness symbol. This remainder from Chinese culture is often used.

References to nature are integrated both in realistic ways and in more abstract ways. They are found in balcony railings and fences.




Thanh Ha is a small village in Vietnam, four kilometres from the major tourist city Hoi An. Thanh Ha consists of about 50 households that live from the production of terracotta products. The choice for this material is determined by its river surrounded location.

In the early years Thanh Ha produced mainly bricks and roof tiles for buildings in the area. When factories started producing these same product, soon the demand reduced due to their higher prices in comparison to the factories. Around 1999 tourists started to explore the village and new life was blown into the village by the production of souvenirs for both Western and Vietnamese tourists. Many craftsmen that had lived there as a child, now came back to make use of this tourist attention. Nowadays a small number of tourists visits the village. Craftsmen try to sell their products to them and also in Hoi An some of their smaller souvenirs are sold. The craftsmen all have their own workshop with their family and all the other workshops are considered as competitors. When they see a good selling product at the neighbours´ workshop they will copy it.

How do the craftsmen see this situation and what are their preferences for now and in the future? This part explains their situation and by interviews tries to gain more insight in the personal preferences and possibilities for the future.


Mister Tuan I´m Tuan and I´m 46 years old. When I was younger I left the family business because there was not enough work, but in the nineties tourists started coming to Thanh Ha, bringing more work. So twelve years ago I started working in Thanh Ha as a professional craftsman. My speciality lies in making terracotta products by hand and in applying details after mold forming. The products in my workshop range from lanterns and piggybanks to handmade famous buildings such as the Taj Mahal and the Tower Bridge.

Miss Hau I´m Hau and I´m 45 years old. I was born and raised in Thanh Ha, but left to work in Hoi An. When my family´s workshop started getting lots of work I came back to work as a craftsman, this was around 12 years ago. Most of the time I make products by mold, which I detail with knife and pencil afterwards, but I also make products on the wheel. I work in my workshop together with my husband and sister, when my children have holidays they also help. In my shop I have lots of lanterns, piggybanks, and a range of smaller decorative products. Miss Tram I´m Tram and I´m 17 years old. I have been working with terracotta for 7 years now, so I already have quite some experience. Whenever I have holiday from school I make animal whistles together with my friends. We sit together in one big room and all make our own animals. We make the whistles by hand, twelve different animals in total. The whistles are sold by my family or given as gifts to the tourists who buy a ticket for Thanh Ha.


In the pictures below an impression is given of the interviews that took place. All interviews were conducted in the living room of the participants in their home town, Thanh Ha.

Mister Tuan

Miss Hau

Miss Tram

AROUND THE HOUSE Do the craftsmen themselves use terracotta products in and around the house? Mister Tuan and Miss Hau both did not use terracotta in the house. Mister Tuan thought terracotta is only suitable for in the garden and Miss Hau thought terracotta is not needed in the house. Miss Tram on the other hand has several terracotta products in her house and would even like to have more.

“I do not use terracotta in my own house, because it is not necessary. The only product from terracotta I sometimes use is the water container, but I only use it during floods in the rainy season, because then there is not enough clean and fresh water available. I would not use terracotta to decorate my house, I only use it to display the products I sell.”

“I do not ‘use’ terracotta because in my house, because it is mainly decoration. It is heavy and breakable so we do not ‘use’ it anymore. It is not suitable for my house. I think terracotta is only suitable for the garden.”” “I actually have a lot of products made from terracotta in my house. There are some decorative products such as statues and lanterns, but also products for use such as clay pots and toys. Other terracotta products I would like to have for in my house are a teapot or a vase.”


When asked which of their own products they found the most beautiful only mister Tuan was able to name one of his products; the painted masks. Miss Hau said she created what the majority wanted, but did not find her own products beautiful. Miss Tram was unable to choose one and said she thought all her products were beautiful.




Most people who have a creative profession have one product they are the most proud of. The same goes for the craftsmen in Thanh Ha. Mister Tuan is most proud of the famous buildings he creates from pictures, because they best show his skill. Miss Hau is most proud of a sun/moon figure, because this was her own creation and misses Tram is most proud of making a clay pot.


To know what products are most popular among the customers of the craftsmen they were asked about their best selling products. Not surprisingly these were the same products as the products they were specialized in making. For Mister Tuan it were his lanterns, for Miss Hau her piggybanks and for Miss Tram her animal whistles.


Miss Hau and Mister Tuan both mentioned two ways in which they earned their income. One way is through regular production for in the shop and for tourists. The other way is through orders from wholesalers or bigger customers like hotels.

Regular production

“Most products go directly to the customers, I have only one or two wholesalers. Products that go directly to the customers usually mean a higher profit, but there is lots of competition between shops, so it can be really hard.”

“When I produce regular products there is little risk. I know how to make them as I do it every day and we know how the wall thickness should be, how long it should be in the kiln and how it shrinks. Just 3 out of 100 fail.”

“When a wholesaler orders a large amount of products then I work out the price, I know the amount of clay and wood and then I estimates the price. The profit left is for labour work, so my own wage goes down when the wholesaler wants to pay less.”

“Making new models costs more time as I don’t know how they will come out of the kiln, I have to make at least 3 to be sure 1 is good. I give up my regular production for them, so the price is what I would normally earn with my regular production and what I now miss out on. “


Employees start working

Wake up

Arranging jobs for people

Making moulds & samples. Handle Coffee % breakfast clients

Rest & lunch

Work on products, buy material, cook and sell products Wake up

Wake up


Eat & drink

Making whistles

Have lunch

THE DAY OF ... Making moulds & samples. Handle clients


Drinks with friends


Go to sleep when work is done

Making whistles again


Watch TV


The different craftsmen have different layouts for their day. Mister Tuan has more of a steering position, so he structures his day around his employees and clients. Miss Hau does all the tasks herself and her day is longer or shorter depending on how much work she has that day. Miss Tram only works in the workshop on holidays and her job is focused on making whistles, so this covers the main part of her day.


So what is Vietnam and Vietnamese style for the craftsmen? These words shows what the craftsmen named when asked what was typical Vietnamese for them.

water pot hotpot coal pot money pot bricks roof tiles conical hat

clay washing basin ao baba kettle ao dai stove



Water pot

Ao baba

Roof tiles

Money pot



Coal pot

Conical hat

Ao dai Clay washing basin



Besides the Vietnamese culture, it is also interesting to find out what is typical Hoi An according to the craftsmen. Here they did have less ideas than typical Vietnamese. The main Hoi An thing that stood out to them were the lanterns, in all sorts.

bamboo lanterns lanterns clay lanterns


Bamboo lanterns

Clay lanterns



The last step is analysing what the craftsmen believe is the culture of Thanh Ha. So typically Thanh Ha are the terracotta products produced in the village.

clay pots

whistles roof tiles terracotta pottery


Clay pots


Terracotta pottery

Roof tiles


ACCOMMODATIONS IN HOI AN2 Over 100 resorts and hotels can be found all over the popular tourist city of Hoi An. In the city centre, along the river and near stretched beach. They vary from simple 1 star hotels with no more than a bed and a bathroom up to luxury 5 star resorts with private swimming pools. Next to that, home stay is a popular accommodation type where guests stay in the same house as the family that owns the house. Also here, it ranges from simply renting a room in the house, to family houses with a garden with small bungalows for the guests. Since the Vietnamese government is actively trying to attract more tourists, new hotels and resorts keep on being build. All together this would form a large and expanding market for products of Thanh Ha that could provide long term contacts for the craftsmen and a more secured income.

For the research it has been chosen to investigate in 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts as the importance of decoration is higher in this category compared

to the other categories. Guests pay a higher prices and expect more for their money not only on the quality of the service but also on the appearance and comfort of the accommodation.

In the research three hotel/resort employees were interviewed about the current decoration and their opinion about Thanh Ha products. Next to that 42 guests were approached by questionnaire to gain insights on their preferences and selection criteria when choosing an accommodation.


“Ou r re s o rt is t h e o n ly o n e w m a k e s it s p e cia l. We h it h 5 st a rs in Hoi A n, t h at a ve a bea ut st ro n g t h e m if u l g a rd e n e t h rou g h ou a nd t t h e w h o le re s o rt.” Name: Number of stars: Number of rooms: Number of bungalows: Price per night (2p.): Location: Decoration style:

Palm garden resort

188 20 (14 with sea view) $195 - $325 Along the beach, near Cau Dai beach Real Vietnamese


“We a re a s m a ll re s o rt in ac sty le.. We a re t h e n u m b o lo n ia l, f is h e rm a n v illa e r 1 re s o rt a t hin k bett e r t t h e be a ch g e t h a n 5 st a r ,I o n e s.“

Name: Number of stars: Number of rooms: Price per night (2p.): Location: Decoration style:

Victoria beach resort and spa

109 $160 - $310 Along the beach near Cau Dai beach Colonial style


T he ma n a g

e r wa s n ot a

va il a ble fo r a

n int e rv ie w.

Name: Number of stars: Number of rooms: Price per night (2p.): Location: Decoration style:

Hoi An beach resort

121 $121 - $151 Opposite Cau Dai beach, along the river Semi modern Vietnamese


The three different resorts based their decoration on a specific style or combination of style. The sources of inspiration gathered, of two of the resorts by interviews, are presented here.


The palm garden resort decorated their building and surroundings inspired by Hoi An and Vietnamese style. They aim to keep the traditional appearance and try to stay away from modern influences. Large objects from local sources are eye catchers in the different area’s.


Also the Victoria beach resort got their inspiration from the fisherman village style of Hoi An. It’s a colonial old style, like the little houses in the streets of Hoi An with modernized elements. Modern equipment is kept away from the guests as much as possible illustrated by the terracotta pots on the buffet to keep food warm. The style has lead to the success of the resort and too modern elements would badly influence the success. New products are selected during renovations, hereby they look for a similar style based on local products that are available at that moment.

Local product - Palm garden resort

Clay pot - Victoria beach resort


The scheme shows the main colours used in the resorts.





The use of material is often related to the style resort try to maintain. The different uses of material are shown on the following pages.

The main material used at the Palm garden resort is dark wood. This is combined with glass, fabric, reed and stone.


Wood and stone

Wood and fabric

Wood and fabric

Reed and fabric

Wood and ceramics

Metal and semitransparent glass



At the Victoria beach resort dark wood also dominates the decoration, mainly combined with other natural materials.


Wood and stone

Fabric and reed

Wood and marble

Copper and wood


Wood, marble and ceramics

Wood and reed

Wood and bamboo

The Hoi An beach resorts also uses wood as a main material however, slightly darker painted then at the other resorts


Terracotta and stone

Wood and fabric

Wood and glass


Different colours wood

Wood and terracotta

Wood and fabric

Limestone, marble and ceramics


The choice for decorative products influences the style largely. These object differ per resort and an overview of them gives a good impression of their influence in the resorts.




MANAGERS ABOUT TERRACOTTA During the interview the hotel owners of Palm garden resort and Victoria beach resort were asked about their view on terracotta and Thanh Ha.


Thanh Ha is an important historical place that the resort advices guests to go to. They believe that guests should see the local culture when they are in Hoi An and Thanh Ha is a part of that. They also provide tours to there. Terracotta itself is seen as a nice local product. It is strong and has a traditional appearance. All rooms have a terracotta lantern on the wall.


The products from Thanh Ha a largely presented in the resort. Now and then a craftsmen from the village comes over to create products, designed by the resort. However, they do not advice guests to go to Thanh Ha because of the too direct way in which craftsmen try to sell products. They regret that because they like to support local communities like Thanh Ha.

Hoi An beach resort

Palm garden resort

Victoria beach resort




The in 1999 UNESCO declared city of Hoi An is a major tourist attraction nowadays. Tourists from all over the world visit the city on their way through Vietnam. Most tourists stay for a few days and all these tourists need to have a place to spend the night. Since the new product will be designed for hotels/resorts it is important to know what the

guests staying in hotels/resorts in Hoi An think of their accommodation and what they like and dislike.

This part of the research is focused on the tourists and thus hotel guests. This information was gained by four group sessions and 42 questionnaires.

French family

Friends from England(18 years old)

Friends from Spain (30 years old)

Italian couple (28 years old)


During four creative sessions with four different groups of tourists they were asked to draw what they thought was typical Hoi An. Their drawings can be clustered in six themes, giving an overview of a tourist’s impression of Hoi An.


Small roads Traditional houses & shops





In the same session tourists were also asked to draw what they found typical Vietnam. This resulted in ive clusters, with the noodle soup being the biggest, as almost all participants mentioned it as typical Vietnamese.

Vietnamese lag

Noodle soup

Conical hats


Bicycles & motorbikes

TERRACOTTA FOR IN HOTELS In the last phase of the creative session all participants were told this session was for a project concerning terracotta. The last assignment was to think of products from terracotta they would like in the room of the hotel they were staying in Hoi An. This question resulted in four clusters of product types and four standalone ideas.

Decorative statues Storage item


Drink holder

Lamps & lanterns

Incense burner


Soap tray



The second part of the research with tourists was done through questionnaires. The questionnaires were handed out to guests of Treat Cafe in Hoi An. The circle diagrams on this page give an overview of the people who filled in the questionnaire.

In total the questionnaire was completed by 42 tourists. Of these tourists 23 stayed in a resort and 19 stayed in a hotel. Most of the accommodations were 3 or 4 star of which the 3 star were mostly hotels and the 5 star all resorts.

Hotel type

The travelling groups for the main part consisted of 20-30 year old people, but the largest part of the tourists were travelling as family. The family groups were either made up of a father, mother and two/three children or siblings travelling together. The nationalities of the people who filled in the questionnaire differs greatly, but more than half of the questionnaires were filled in by European tourists, and smaller amounts by Australian, Asian and Northern Americans.

Number of stars 4 10%

5 36%

2 21%

Hotel 45% Resort 55%

3 33%

Sort of hotel

Number of stars

South Korean 2%


French 2%

United Kingdom 2%

Hong Kong 2%

American 2%

50 to 60 7%

Vietnamese 5%

10 to 20 10%

German 22%

Canadian 5%

20 to 30 43% 40 to 50 19%

Japanese 5% Spanish 17%

Chinese 10%

Australian 12%

30 to 40 21%

10 3% 6 5%

Agesize Group

9 2%

Nationality Travelling company Alone 2%

Business partners 5%

8 1 2% 2%

2 38%

3 24%

Dutch 14%

Tour 5%

Family / Friends 10%

Family 40%

Other 14%

4 24%

Size of group

Friends 24%

Sort of group

ATTRACTIVE ABOUT THE ACCOMMODATION The tourists were asked to name the features they found attractive in their accommodations. The answers were clustered to categories and are displayed in word clouds. The size of the word cloud shows how often a category was mentioned. The answers are split into hotels and resorts to quickly show the difference between the two types of accommodation.



PREFERRED CHANGE Besides what made the accommodation attractive it is also interesting to know what is unattractive. The tourists were asked what they would change in their hotel if they could change anything. The most outstanding outcome is that most hotel guests dislike their bathroom and most resort guests the restaurant.




To find out what tourists like about their accommodation they were asked three questions about what they liked best. The questions concerned the outdoor area, the reception area and the rooms. In both hotels and resorts the best liked place outdoors was the pool, in the resorts this was complemented by the beach.



RECEPTION AREA The most liked reception areas are reception areas that are spacious and open in design. Another much liked aspect in the reception area is the presence of helpful and friendly staff who provide good service. Hotel


ROOMS The most liked aspects in the rooms of hotels and resorts are also the same. These are the bed and the bathroom. In hotels the next best liked aspect of the rooms is the size of the room and in resorts this is the cleanliness of the room. Hotel


BEST LOCATION The last question concerning the accommodation was what location is the accommodation was best liked. In both hotels and resorts the pool stood out among the other answers and the same as with the outdoors area, in resorts this was complemented by the beach.




To find out on a larger scale what tourists saw as typical Vietnamese this question from the group sessions was repeated in the questionnaire. Since this was an open question many different answers were given. No answer was given remarkably often, but some interesting suggestions were the typical houses, wooden furniture and the happiness sign.


To find out what style tourists preferred in their accommodation they were asked to give their preference on a 5 point scale. The answers were visualized in a histogram to show the distribution of the preferences. There was not much difference between the hotels and the resorts so only the average results are shown. Looking at Western versus Vietnamese style, tourists prefer a style somewhere in between with a little bit higher Vietnamese presence. When concerned with modern versus traditional the average is exactly in the middle so tourists like a balanced mix between the two. The last style is plain versus colourful, where the average preference shows that tourists like their room to incline a small bit towards colourful.




Modern - Traditional Modern / Traditional

20 15 10 5 0 1

Western / Vietnamese






0 1








Plain - Colourful

Western - Vietnamese



Plain / Colourful







The final series of questions concerned a group of nine terracotta products ranging from traditional to modern. Tourists were asked which product they preferred. When asked which product they liked most in their hotel the top three consisted of the candlelight, the pot and the mask. In the hotels the side table was another favourite, while in resorts the more traditional lantern and vase were also mentioned a few times.

AS A SOUVENIR When asked which of the nine products they liked best as a souvenir tourists named the lantern, the candlelight and a Champa figure. When comparing the resorts and hotels there was a remarkable difference between the two. The hotel guests preferred the lantern and the candlelight, where the resort guests preferred the Champa figure and the animal whistle.

AT HOME The top three products mentioned as preferred for in tourist’s own house are the pot and the candlelight. It is surprising to see that the products liked best in their own house are the same as those liked best for in the hotel. In the resort there was a third favourite product, namely the coloured vase.


To see if the products that are liked best in the accommodations are also the ones that fit best with the current decoration, this was asked as a separate question. It is notable that the top two products are the same; the candlelight and the vase, but the third choice changed from the mask to the vase. The top three was the same for the hotels and resorts.

WITH VIETNAM The last question was given to find out what terracotta product was most connected to Vietnam according to the tourists. Only two products were given in a noticeable amount of answers. These two were the lantern and the Champa figure.


1. history398/KingdomOfChampa.html 2.

Experience Entrepreneurship I&II Group: Josje van Beusekom // 1373568 Renee de Schepper // 1322796 Coach: Esther Blom Company: Nha Viet Corp Company supervisor: Nguyen van Nguyen

Research booklet Terracotta Vietnam  

Results of 1 month research in Hoi An in order to come up with a new product direction for terracotta village Thanh Ha, focussing on resorts...