The cute, pocket-size versions of Saigon

By Nhung Nguyen   June 4, 2017 | 02:39 am PT
These artists have compressed vanishing scenes of city's life into sketches of small corners.

Nostalgia is not just for the elderly. With our fast-paced modern life spinning by, a group of young artists based in Ho Chi Minh City have been painting down their childhood memories of their city in an attempt to preserve them.

“Sometimes I think about life as I'm wandering down Saigon's busy streets,” creative director Maxk Nguyen wrote in the introduction to Saigon in Three Square Meters. "How will the city look in 30 years? These parts of our daily life like street food stands, xe om (motorbike taxi)... will they remain the same, or fade away to leave room for something new?”

With this idea in mind, the 10-member group of illustrators and typographers spent two months documenting what once was familiar to Saigon residents in the 1990s: a video rental store, a barber shop, a sign painter, or a bike repair stall.

All of the scenes with unique, charming features are packed into a corner of three square meters.

“I believe every kid born in Saigon has a pleasant space, a corner for ourselves to remember,” said Maxk Nguyen. “That’s how we feel when we look at these paintings.”

For outsiders, here's what we miss from the city's old days.


An advertisement sign painter.


A xe om, aka taxi motorbike.


A playground.


A banh mi street stall.


Saigon's street food.


A bike repair stand on the sidewalk.


A newspaper stand.


A video rental store.


Inside a house on a summer day.


A street barber.

The artist team of Maxk Nguyen (Creative Director), Thai Thanh Do (Art Director), Truong Ngoc Quoc Dung (typographer), Thinh Le, Min Non, Phong Vo, Hiia Huynh, and Hoang Thach (Illustrator Artists) plan to display their work in an exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City.

Until then, you can check out a few pieces on Behance.

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