lifestyle • 08 Aug, 2017
Inside Nấp Concept-Hostel
Da Kao Hideaway Hosts Talk About Their New Creation
For great stays you need impeccable hosts. And they don’t come any cooler than the three owners of Nấp Saigon, a new concept-hostel and cafe at 3/5 Nguyen Van Thu.
That’s because Nấp Saigon was opened by Tim Pham,Thy Tran and Tran Quang Dai. Tim is an art director, designer and artist — look right as you enter for his series of minimalist figure sketches. Photographer Thy Tran recently exhibited at the ever-edgy DIA Projects with Regis Golay for the figures, forms and contraptions show. You’ll find her hip, colour-flushed images inside Nấp, like on the walls of the first-floor dorm. And Tran Quang Dai is a model and entrepreneur who donated several modish items from his Mơ homeware store.
Nấp stretches over four floors that contain the dorms and a shared lounge and kitchen. Plus there are plans for a soon-to-open rooftop space and outdoor cinema. And the entire place is romantically retro-fitted for an atmosphere of pre-1975 Saigon chic. Nấp, by the way, means ‘to hide’, which is fitting for this creative concept-hostel hidden away in a quiet corner of Da Kao.
Actress Diem My chilling in the common room
How did you guys meet? What were your first impressions of each other?
Thy Tran: We’ve known each other for a while. After I returned to Vietnam, we were introduced by mutual friends.
Tim Pham: I'm not sure I made a great first impression, I can be a bit unapproachable sometimes.
Tran Quang Dai: Actually, everyone loves Tim, he's very sophisticated and Thy’s got such a lovable arty style.
Photographer Thy Tran
Who had the original idea for ‘Nấp’?
Tran Quang Dai: It might have been me because I always like new ideas. I especially wanted to work with Tim and Thy on a project because I believe in their style.
Thy Tran: In 2016, I travelled to Japan on my own. My friend told me about this hostel in Tokyo, and how the experience was the highlight of the trip. I visited and liked the atmosphere there. It was very cozy and clean. The staff were friendly. They had a lively bar open in the evening while in the morning people sat down for a chat over breakfast and coffee. I thought Saigon needed some place similar to his, but I never thought one day my friends and I would create project like this.
Art Director, designer and artist Tim Pham
What do each of you bring to this collaboration?
Tim Pham: Thy is very artistic and detail-oriented. She always wants things to be clean and organised. And Dai is a great guy with a good business mind.
Thy Tran: Right, Dai is very experienced in management and running businesses. Tim is a calm person — a very important characteristic to me in terms of balance in teamwork because I’m an emotional person — and there’s definitely no need to comment on his graphic design skills. I first got to know Tim’s drawings on Instagram, but I never thought we would work together and become so close like now.
Model and entrepreneur Tran Quang Dai
Which came first, the location or the name ‘Nấp’?
Tim Pham: We came up with the name ’Nấp’ first because our idea was to create a quiet space for people to ’hide’ away from this hectic city. It's also the English word ‘nap’ meaning sleep.
Tran Quang Dai: Luckily, the location for ‘Nấp’ is also hidden in an alley by the river, with lots of green surroundings.
Thy Tran: All three of us were very pleased with the name ‘Nấp’ as well as its meaning. I’ve always liked the idea of staying hidden. Finding a location was a bit of a struggle at first. Fortunately, soon after, Dai told Tim and that he’d found a nice place. We all went over to have a look and the day after we decided that it’d be the home of ’Nấp’.
Where do you most like to hideaway at ‘Nấp?
Thy Tran: You can hide anywhere at ‘Nấp’. We paid attention to every detail and weighed up every function for each corner. So I think anywhere in ‘Nấp’ is suitable for relaxation and hiding.
Tran Quang Dai: I’d probably hide in an empty bed reading a book, pretending to be a tourist for the first time in the city and then fall asleep.
Why was pre-75 Saigon such an inspiration?
Tran Quang Dai: It makes me think of the rows of trees, old Vespa motorbikes and guys and girls sophisticatedly dressed.
Tim Pham: For me, the polite and well-mannered people and Saigon-style houses and shops.
Thy Tran: Yes, houses with the art-deco architectural style, which was popular back then.
What’s the secret to a good night’s sleep?
Tim Pham: It’s to relax. I have this bad habit of working late at night. Not good at all.
Thy Tran: I watch a movie or have a few drinks with friends. I don’t sleep much — usually just four or five hours — so once I’m in bed, I fall right asleep and no tossing and turning.
Tran Quang Dai: For me, there’s nothing to be restless about once you’re in bed because there’s nothing else you can do. I enjoy sleeping and dreaming.
Before we say goodnight, tell us the secret to successfully working with friends?
Tim Pham: The ability to accept each other...
Thy Tran: And to be patient and sharing.
Tran Quang Dai: Right. It’s all about the sharing and sharing…
Find out what happened when Nấp Saigon opened its doors below:
Tom Trandt fashion designer and founder of Môi Điên
Actress Diem My and photographer Thien Minh
Model Mau Thuy
Photographer Rose Nguyen
Fashion designer Tom Trandt
Fashion designer Tom Trandt and Cang Nguyen
Words by David Kaye
Visual by Ivan Kamensky
Photo by Tuan Tran