Launched in July, 2020, The Vietage by Anantara is a design-led train carriage that offers six-hour rail journeys between Anantara hotels in the cities of Danang and Quy Nhon in central Vietnam.
Designed by Ho Chi Minh architecture and interior design practice ShapeUs Studio, the train carriage offers 12, reservation-only seats where passengers can relax and enjoy local cuisine and cocktails as they take in views of the Vietnamese countryside through the large windows.
Because guests will spend much of the journey in their private booths, the chairs were custom designed to be spacious and comfortable with plush cushions and partitions that offer peace and privacy.
“The seats in the private booths have wooden frames and cotton cushions. This is typical of Indochina sofa and chairs,” saysShapeUs Studio’s director Hoang Le Ha.
“The crafted wood provides structure to the booths and also reflects the local architectural vernacular. The cotton cushions give the booths a comfortable and homely feel.”
Given the natural shape of the carriage, Hoang and her team imagined the corridor as a temporal space and began conceptualising the theme from there.
“We viewed the corridor not just as a space to be looked at, but as a space that one could inhabit and look out from,” says Hoang, who decided on a vault-style corridor that is a reinterpretation of colonial vault features found in many heritage Vietnamese buildings.
“We combined elements from historical and modern design to create a dialogue between the two. This creates a mood of looking forward while still retaining a sense history.
“Aesthetically, the design language gives depth and balance to the interiors.”
The concept of the interiors started from the temporal space that is the corridor.
Industrial wood was used throughout for the carriage floors to sustain a natural vibration when the train is in motion.
The partitions between the private booths are made with a frame of wood and rattan – a material that’s commonly used in Indochina.
The variety of facilities on board and their location were also important factors guiding the design.
To facilitate movement, Hoang located the private booths at one end of the carriage and a sit-up bar in the middle as a hub where guests can gather and socialise.
The wine cabinet behind the sit-up bar is crafted from local wood.
At the opposite end of the area with the private booths, is a treatment room where guests can get massages while looking out at the changing landscape through large picture windows.
Throughout the design process, the ShapeUs Studio team kept the ideas of comfort and a relaxing ambience in mind to create an exclusive and luxurious experience.
“We looked very carefully at the lighting in different parts of the carriage from the main sit-up bar area to the private booths.
“We also took into account that the return journey from Quy Nhon to Da Nang is primarily in darkness, so we had to ensure that the lighting would be adequate yet not intrusive,” says Hoang.
The warm wood and earthy colour scheme harmonise beautifully with the local landscape paintings hanging on the walls of the carriage.
The overall effect is a rail journey experience that captures the essence of central Vietnam’s geographical and cultural identity.
“During the six-hour ride between Da Nang and Quy Nhon, guests will see varied landscape – from small rural towns to large stretches of rice paddies, mountainous areas and coastal views.
“We made sure that the interiors of the carriage complement the ever-changing scenes, colours, and topographical features outdoors,” says Hoang.