On 26th to 29th January, a group of fifteen LVI and UVI IB Art and Design Technology pupils were taken to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, by Mr Holden and Mrs Prime to visit some of the many factories and cultural highlights of this fascinating city.
Day 1: Square Roots – Furniture Factory
Square Roots is a design & manufacturing company specialising in the production of furniture that celebrates the beauty of wood. We had a wonderful tour of the production line by one of our parents, Mr Wheatcroft (General Director) where we learnt about the French Oak that they use and how they up-cycle metals for their products. At the end of the tour, we worked with a visiting consultant and played a game putting various different parts together in order to better understand how to maximise efficiency in modern production settings.
Day 2: Rochdale Spears & Intel
At the beginning of the second day we made our way to Rochdale Spears, a factory on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City that supplies one of the largest furniture outlets in the United States and in Europe. On the production floor, we experienced a first-hand perspective of the huge scale of this production facility. As we were guided around the production floor we were given information about each of the sections within the factory, such as the process from raw materials to the cutting and sanding of the same piece. One of the most memorable experiences of this visit was the production of a single piece of furniture on one production line from raw materials to the finished product, which could take as little as 90 minutes. It was also very interesting to understand the use of both a semi-automated production and simple hand production.
Following our eye-opening trip to Rochdale Spears, we ventured to Intel, the seventh and largest assembly facility in Intel’s global network that produces micro-chips. We were given an introduction to the company by Javier Perez, the Manufacturing Director. He enlightened us with interesting facts, such as how 35% of employees are women engineers; the company’s care for the planet with 20,000 hours of outreach; and their award-winning scholarship and intern programs. A highlight of the talk was witnessing a dazzling light drone show by Intel, captured on video. We proceeded to a tour of the factory where we saw the offices and the machines at work. Due to humans being the highest contaminators of microchips, we had to be content with a window tour where employees brought up microchips to the glass so that we could have a look for ourselves. The experience was very interesting as we were able to discover the process by which microchips are made, which was new to many of us.
Day 3: Cu-Chi Tunnels, Rehahn Gallery and Opera House
On Day 3, we visited the Cu Chi tunnels which are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels used during the Vietnam war to combat American and South Vietnamese forces. There were three types of tunnels one each of 60m, 40m and 20m and we entered the smallest one. Visiting this war zone was extremely moving yet informative.
In the afternoon, we had the privilege of visiting Rehahn, a photographer of international acclaim, in his gallery. He is the man behind some of the most iconic street photographs of our time, including “The Little Vietnamese with Blue Eyes” “Best Friends” and “Hidden Smile” and is particularly well-known for his portraits of Cuba, India and Vietnam. After first journeying to the northern regions of Vietnam, and making his way south, he has witnessed firsthand the complex diversity and fragility of some ethnic groups’ cultural heritage. Having already met 45 of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, he now focuses his work on completing this project. By capturing images of these exceptionally contrasting cultures, and collecting their traditional costumes and precious artifacts, he has built up the Precious Heritage Collection, which is now the core of the eponymous Gallery Museum.
The Ter Dah performance on Sunday night in the HCMC Opera House was truly an eye-opening one. The performance showcased some of the legends and myths in Vietnamese culture. It captivated us as we were hanging off the edge of our seats at every death-defying stunt that was carried out.
Day 4: Adidas Shoe Factory
We spent our last day visiting an Adidas factory. We were warmly welcomed and the visit started off with a presentation led by Raj, the manufacturing manager along with his team. We learned that Reebok, as well as Adidas shoes, were produced here. After the presentation, we were given a tour around the entire factory, which was enormous – bigger than any of the other factories we had seen and with over 17,000 workers there! We were told that in fact about 5 million pairs of Adidas shoes were produced each month. Additionally, the highlight of the visit was probably the fact that we got the opportunity to see a few unreleased Adidas shoe prototypes, that may be soon on the market.
The trip was a great success and gave everyone a real insight into modern industrial manufacturing processes on both small and large scales, along with some unforgettable cultural experiences.
We’ll be back!
Write ups by: Tess Siah, Callum Hutchinson, Chloe Wheatcroft, Mia Camara, Aleeza Yusuf, Kav Ravichandran, Laura Gmur.