Café Giay (Paper Coffee Shop) is what its name suggests. A café made from paper. It may seem a bizarre notion, but in Ho Chi Minh City’s ultra-competitive and flourishing café society, any café worth its arabica needs a fresh perspective and a new selling point.
Nestled among other cafés on the street, Café Giay stands apart from the pack because of its simplicity, content simply to attract the busy and weary passersby in need of escape from the noise, traffic and general hustle and bustle of the street.
The thinking behind this place is different from other coffeehouses in town - which are often comfortably but gaudily designed thanks to the backing of the odd big-shot investor or two.
Café Giay has stripped all that back. Using space liberally sets of tables and chairs are sprinkled throughout its small cozy rooms. Perhaps the shining light of individualism comes from the use of materials.
Cardboard and paper tubes, hundreds and hundreds of paper tubes, are used to make the chairs, tables and sofas.
The shop has three floors. On the terrace, customers can kick back with a coffee and a cool breeze to batter back this southern city’s stifling heat. When it rains, cover is provided by a paper roof - an obvious inclusion to a uniquely themed spot.
But it is the second floor, where the owners have gone paper buck-wild. Huge cardboard boxes overlap each other in a collage of processed trees, light shades are made from paper and hundreds of rectangular pieces of cardboard are stuck on the wall, as a mural of sorts.
It makes sense that a café dedicated to paper would support the most famous of paper art forms. Customers are encouraged to try Origami, the Japanese art, on the second floor.
There is already a growing collection of made pieces. A crane, an eagle, a dragon, all intricately folded by hand.
It also doubles as the weekly meeting place of an Origami Club, which converges on the cafe on Sundays.
“This coffee shop originated from the ideas of my brothers who were studying at the Architecture University,” said Thanh, the owner. “They helped me build the shop.”
“To get all the paper tubes and cardboard, took ages and a lot of searching.” Thanh said. “Paper cups and coffee filters will also be used to create an entire world of paper.”
Café Giay is located at 237/148A Tran Van Dang Street in District 3.