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NEW WAVE: Furniture and the emerging designers

2013/06/29 | 363 views | Permalink | Source

Furniture fully embodies the designer's originality as well as the customer's preferences.

New designers have emerged in the Korean furniture market, which has mainly consisted of cheap synthetic wood furniture and expensive brand-name furniture. A few years ago, some young designers created their own brands to make reasonably priced designer furniture.

Currently, an exhibit called "New Wave: Furniture and the Emerging Designers" is being held at the Kumho Museum of Art. This exhibit introduces six groups of young designers, in their early to mid-thirties, who are trendsetters in Korean furniture design. Here are a few eye-catching designs that are on display.


Kim Ki Hyun, the CEO of Design Methods, explained that he designed the tables and chairs "in consideration of Korean students who have to sit in class for a long time".

They were designed using plaster models which were modeled after six people with typical Korean body shapes. The average depth of the seat and the slope of the back of the chair were measured and incorporated into the furniture.

"Usually, chairs are made to embrace the body, allowing room for people's movements. This chair, on the other hand, was designed for comfort even when sitting in one position for a long time".

 < DESIGN METHODS _ 1.3 Chair only weighs 1.28㎏ >

The "1.3 Chair", by Design Methods, received the "2012 Designs of the Year" Award for furniture. It weighs only 1.28 kilograms. The key to its lightness is balsa wood, a material as light as sorghum stalk.
Native to Central and South America, balsa grows faster than most trees and is ready to be cut for lumber in seven or eight years. However, because of its brittleness, it had previously only been used to construct architectural models. At the exhibition, a strong balsa wood chair, which underwent compression molding, is on display. A life-size illustration that describes the research stages of compression methods, as well as balsa wood before and after compression, are also on display.


< Lee Sang-Hyeok _ Listen to your hands >

Lee Sang-Hyeok won second place in the competition for new designers, which was hosted by the Cologne International Furniture Fair. He designed a table which has a rather sentimental title, "Listen to Your Hands". Interestingly, closing one drawer with a strong push forces all other drawers to open. Only when a drawer is gently closed does it have no effect on the others. As its name suggests, this is furniture that responds to the touch of your hands. Lee, a designer based in Germany, created this table to show the "relationship between people and furniture, and how we communicate with furniture in our daily lives".

The table doesn't incorporate any cutting-edge technology, such as "touch screens". Instead, the drawers are connected through a vacuum so that when one drawer is pulled out all the way and then suddenly closed when the air is compressed, opening the remaining drawers.

Besides the furniture introduced above, the design group "SWBK" presents "up-cycle" furniture. "Up-cycle" products are made using recycled materials, thus raising the value of these materials (up-cycle) and promoting environmental responsibility. This particular furniture is made of wood chip waste from old Indonesian houses and boats.

Also, Eine Kleine Furniture, known for making customized furniture that reflects the occupation and lifestyle of the customer, is displaying a series of personalized work tables for culturally prominent figures.   

The designers mentioned above were able to enter the world of furniture design mainly due to the growing number of consumers in this design-friendly generation. These are consumers who believe that the purpose of furniture is not simply for practically daily use but to express or demonstrate our personal preferences.

As more and more consumers begin to appreciate furniture as spatial "objet d'art" that can preserve memories instead of as merely industrial products, these young furniture designers will continue to create and develop new designs.

An exhibit titled "New Wave: Furniture and the Emerging Designers" is on display at Kumho Museum of Art until June 30.

For more information, visit:

Open Gallery Information

Opening hours
- 10:00~18:00 (Closed on Mondays)

- 18 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (720-5114)

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