Designing homes, chasing dolls

May 20, 2018 - 09:00

Lê Hương explores a doll collection owned by architect Ngô Thị Hương Ly, who is based in HCM City. Apart from designing award-winning buildings, Ly enjoys adding to her large number of stylish figures.

Passion: A part of Hương Ly’s dolls collection. Photo courtesy of Hương Ly
Viet Nam News

By Lê Hương

Working in any field requires sound physical and mental health, while passion is required to work and live to the fullest.

HCM City-based architect Ngô Thị Hương Ly applies that philosophy to her life to balance work and play.

She has a passion for dolls and owns one of the largest collections of dolls in the country.

“When we follow a passion, our mind is well nurtured,” she told Việt Nam News. “This passion helps us to perfect our work at a higher level.”

“There is a belief that dolls are meant for young girls. I too liked playing with dolls when I was young. And before I knew, it turned into a passion, which I have nurtured to date,” Ly says.

Her collection of 500 dolls can be divided into four categories: dolls wearing traditional costumes of Việt Nam and other countries ; dolls of Disney characters; Barbie dolls of famous actors; and dolls produced by Integrity Toys, which are mostly fashionable dolls with costumes designed by famous brands.

She also has 12 male dolls with attractive masculine features that make a good pair with the female dolls.

 “I have foreign-manufactured dolls with Asian features and black hair and I get traditional long dresses tailor-made for them,” Ly says.

She displays the most beautiful Vietnamese dolls in her office.

“Collecting dolls requires skill as it involves minute details,” she says. “As an architect, my job is to design tall buildings, which requires heart, mind and energy as it involves the living quality of many people. Besides knowledge and experience, being careful helps me design better-quality, convenient and safe buildings.”

Ly says she often sends her designs as entries to contests and that she has got most of her contracts by winning in those contests. She has used most of her cash rewards to buy dolls and books.

Ly currently works as a manager of the Architecture Department at the National General Construction Consulting Joint Stock Company. She has won various prizes, including first prizes for designing Flora Fuji Living Quarters in 2015 and Bình Tân Living Quarters in 2017. She has received two prizes awarded by the HCM City Architects’ Association, including a bronze prize for Private House and Building Meeting Green Standards in 2017.

Stylish: Her dolls are varied in styles. Photo courtesy of Hương Ly
Fan club: An offline meeting of the doll club. Photo courtesy of Hương Ly
Rebel without a cause: Ly says she has no future plans for her huge collection but hopes to find a proper place to display them. Photo courtesy of Hương Ly
Classy: Ngô Thị Hương Ly knows how to balance her job and entertainment. Courtesy Photo of Hương Ly

For Ly, a doll is a symbol, a cultural mark or simply a figure that she adores.

It is her passion for dolls that surpasses other interests and makes her spend a lot of time, money and energy in searching for material for her dolls.

“I have even spent a year pursuing a doll which was shipped from abroad,” she says.

Ly recalls that she once took a case full of dolls on a flight to Hà Nội for a business trip, while she only had a backpack of clothes. She also attended a meeting with members of a doll-collecting club.

She was stuck at security check for half an hour to explain why she had taken along so many dolls.

“To me, my collection of 500 dolls is priceless not only in terms of money but also energy and time,” Ly says, adding that collecting dolls for adults can be an expensive passion.

“I don’t think it’s luxurious though,” she says. “I like to let money serve me, not the other way round.”

Ly says she has no future plans for her huge collection but hopes to find a proper place to display them. Each doll should be observed independently, from various angles, to be able to see its beauty and creativity, she says.

Besides dolls, Ly is fond of books. “My parents inspired me to start reading at a young age,” she says.

She is willing to limit money and time but will never compromise on her passion.

She has joined a doll-collecting club on Facebook, whose members are doll collectors of all age groups and professions.

“Members post beautiful photos of dolls and new costumes. We meet once a month to talk about our dolls,” she says. -- VNS