Chi-An De Leo on the essence of Saigon
This article first appeared on Hive Life.
Rice Creative is the branding & creative powerhouse behind Marou Chocolate, the world’s most exquisite chocolate bars, as well as daringly original and searingly vivid works for Uber, Fred Perry, and CocaCola among others. The recipient of dozens of international awards, Rice has been featured in MONOCLE, Taschen, and Wallpaper* Magazine. We sat down with co-founder Chi-An De Leo to talk about the creative process and the essence of Saigon.
A life unbound by borders gives De Leo a multifaceted lens, one that allows him to see Saigon as she is, and also with an infinity of reflections. “My first language was Mandarin. Then I moved from Taiwan to Vietnam, learned Vietnamese and forgot my Chinese; then I was learning French while trying to keep my English,” De Leo remembers. All of that happened before the age of 8. Born in Germany to Vietnamese-French and Italian parents, De Leo “made a point not to be that international kid.” Authenticity is at the heart of everything he does.
“In 1999 I moved from a liberal French school in Hanoi to a very strict boarding school in England. I rebelled as a kid; I had to.” After 10 years studying and living in the England, De Leo moved to Vietnam and founded Rice Creative with Joshua Breidenbach. And rebel they did. A collective of Promethean pioneers, Rice Creative is ambitious beyond the scope of any individual project. The works are vibrant, raw, sensorially pleasing and emotionally expressive. They steer clear of cliches, yet embrace the abstractions of life’s multitude. When Wallpaper* Thai edition asked Rice Creative to create a Vietnam-themed cover for the magazine, De Leo worked with the craftsmen himself to present a neon metropolis, steeped in thousands of years of cultural heritage. The artistically profound and philosophically rigorous piece is among many that earned Rice Creative the reputation as the brand storyteller.
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