Vy Voi’s Re Cay Lighting Is Rooted in an Exploration of Balance


When New York-based designer Steffany Trần, founder of the studio Vy Voi, began ideating for a new series, she was curious about the theme of contradiction and decided to delve further. Although the word “contradiction” often carries a negative connotation, Trần discovered through her study that it can actually be a precursor to balance and harmony. “This collection came about first as an exploration of contradiction, resulting in a sort of composed yet contrasting language. I think of each design as a different iteration of what tension can be – refreshing and restorative, which is not what we often associate with the word,” Trần reflects. With this revitalized perspective, she created a suite of soft luminaires that connect to her Vietnamese heritage. “The Rễ Cây collection showcases how disparate elements, when together, can truly uplift and elevate each other.”

A display of five illuminated paper lanterns of various shapes and sizes on a wooden table, with two large paper scrolls hanging on the wall behind them

Rễ Cây, which translates to “root” in Vietnamese, features five table lamps – Sắn (Cassava) Light, Cà-rốt (Carrot) Light, Củ Cải (Radish) Light, Khoai Môn (Taro) Light, and Củ Đậu (Jicama) Light – with paper shades that seem to have sprouted from their porcelain bases, as the name suggests. The historic Dó paper, originating more than 800 years ago for royal documents and folk art, pays homage to Trần’s culture and was a serendipitous discovery. She explains: “With the long-term goal of working more closely with Vietnamese materials, I discovered Dó paper in my research and became enamored. The paper is truly the leading character in this design. It’s my hope that by centering this historic paper into a contemporary design context, we’ll be able to not only spotlight Vietnamese history but the paper’s potential as a design material for generations to come.”

A group of uniquely shaped table lamps with textured, off-white shades and wooden bases are displayed on a wooden table, with rolled paper in the background

A wooden chair sits next to a pedestal holding a tall, oval-shaped lamp in a minimalistic room. A green book is partially visible on the table in the foreground

A wooden chair sits next to a pedestal holding a tall, oval-shaped lamp lit in a minimalistic room. A green book is partially visible on the table in the foreground

A close-up view of a piece of textured white paper with fibers visible, placed on a wooden surface

Photo: Jonathan Fratti

Trần collaborated with artisan families in Bắc Ninh, Việt Nam, who created the Dó paper that she applies by hand to the shade structures. A dimmer control allows each lamp to transition from a warm glow to full illumination, showcasing the paper’s fabric-like texture and the organic bits of Dó bark embedded in its composition.

Close-up of several overlapping sheets of thin, textured white paper with visible fibers, laid out in a fan shape

Photo: Jonathan Fratti

A minimalist workspace featuring a wooden desk with an open book, a stack of closed books, a small lamp with a spherical shade, a glass cup, and a modern black chair

A minimalist workspace featuring a wooden desk with an open book, a stack of closed books, a small lamp with a spherical shade turned on, a glass cup, and a modern black chair

Adding contrast to the shades – in proportion, form, weight, material, and texture – are the ceramic bases, which are thrown, glazed, and gas-fired in the Vy Voi studio. The smooth, shiny surface adds a balanced contrast to the textured shades. From top to bottom, Trần is able to transform and manipulate a range of raw materials using just her hands.

A white, oval-shaped lamp on a wooden stand is placed on a wooden dresser. To the right, there's a bottle of clear liquid, a small glass, and a cork. The background is a plain wall

A lit, white, oval-shaped lamp on a wooden stand is placed on a wooden dresser. To the right, there's a bottle of clear liquid, a small glass, and a cork. The background is a plain wall

Whether on its own or in a pair or a group, the beauty of the Rễ Cây lamps are indisputable, reminiscent of Noguchi’s iconic light sculptures. With this collection, Trần has woven her Vietnamese heritage into contemporary design, creating pieces that are both innovative and culturally resonant. Each lamp demonstrates how contradicting elements lay the groundwork for an exercise in finding balance, harmony, and beauty.

A wooden cabinet with leather handles displays a paper lamp, ceramic vase, and two tumbler glasses. A round wooden stool with a glass and spoon is placed next to it, all set against a plain wall

A wooden cabinet with leather handles displays a paper lamp turned on, ceramic vase, and two tumbler glasses. A round wooden stool with a glass and spoon is placed next to it, all set against a plain wall

A rounded paper lamp is mounted on top of a small green ceramic base, placed on a wooden surface.

A lit, rounded paper lamp is mounted on top of a small green ceramic base, placed on a wooden surface.

A large, oval-shaped lamp sits atop a green base on a wooden cabinet. An incense holder with incense is placed beside it. A wooden chair is partially visible in the foreground

A lit, large, oval-shaped lamp sits atop a green base on a wooden cabinet. An incense holder with incense is placed beside it. A wooden chair is partially visible in the foreground.

A woman with long black hair wearing a light-colored sweater and dark skirt sits at a wooden table, resting their chin on their hand, next to two tall decorative lamps.

Steffany Trần

To learn more about the Rễ Cây collection, visit vyvoi.com.

Photography by Andrew Bui, unless otherwise noted.





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