It can be said that Korean designer Wonmin Park has been synonymous with "pastel colour resin" since debuting his HAZE series in 2013 - so much so that any furniture creations using "resin on resin" after that may as well be a total knock-off. That's how strong and memorable his HAZE series has been. And with new colours and combinations developed yearly, the HAZE series has unequivocally become one of the most iconic designs of our generation.
But things are about to change in the new year. With Wonmin's new exclusive solo show in New York, people are about to be surprised by what Wonmin Park has to offer. Gone are the dreamy and bubbly colours of HAZE. Instead, they're replaced with sheets of black and grey aluminium intersected with each other, creating a pure, modern and utilitarian collection.
Can you tell the difference? HAZE Table with Four Blocks (T) and PLAIN CUTS Low Table With Three Legs (B).
In hindsight, PLAIN CUTS - as the new collection is called - still feels true to Wonmin's minimal design approach. "Simple forms are more difficult to create because you need to remove everything that is not necessary, but still make it interesting, " he explained, "For me, there is an importance in symmetry, proportions, and colour. I'm always inspired by the material as well. I like resin because of its colour, transparency, and texture but it is not strong. Metal is a different story. Aluminum has its own beautiful colours. I found that the patina technique can change the colour of aluminium. It is lasting.”
Setting up a new studio in Paris and established a production facility in Rotterdam, his journey of working outside the realm of mass production has definitely paid off. Not only has he succeeded in carving out a niche market since the burst of the Design/Art bubble in 2008, but he has also managed to delight both furniture and sculpture patrons alike. And so with a whole new series of bench, chair, lamp, shelf, and tables, PLAIN CUTS will open a new chapter for Wonmin in the new year.
So, where will he go from here? We find out more from the designer.
PLAIN CUTS Dining Table (L) & PLAIN CUTS Two Plates Low Table (R). The Dining Table is the first piece that Wonmin created for the collection.
Resin has been your go-to material previously. So why change now with the PLAIN CUTS collection?
I started with the resin work, but I am always interested in new materials. I guess the reason that I've continued to work on the HAZE series for so long was because it was my early years, and there were a lot of challenges that came in developing the materials. I'm not the first to use this material, but I'm a designer who used this material for furniture, so we had to invest a lot of time and money to get it to this stage. And when I looked back at it, I realised I could move my work to new stages — so that's why we developed my new collection PLAIN CUTS, which is made out of aluminium.
What's the challenge in using this new material now?
I wanted these pieces to be tangible, recognisable and identifiable as my work — but not the same designs made from new materials. Of course, the metal material has influenced to the design and the concept. So for the resin work, I needed form and structure — because it’s not a strong material. And with metal work, I had more freedom; I was able to play with tension and less or more tangible structures.
So I was looking at the materials for my new work for quite a long time… in a way, I wanted to use a material that was the opposite of resin because resin is a special material and some people think my designs are special just because of the material. So I wanted to illustrate that aluminium — which is a very normal material — could be used in a valuable and interesting way. At this time, I used a sheet of aluminium, you know, a normal construction material, and then I just cut it and reconstructed it in a new way. From this work, I conjured a confidence with all other materials as well. In the restaurant, chefs are using all kinds of the same ingredients, but they all make their own paste based on those same ingredients. I believe that the best chef is always using the quality of their own ingredients. For me, material is like this, you should use the essential character of the material honestly. That is my design objective.
PLAIN CUTS Four Boxes Light. This chandelier appears to be light and like four floating boxes with just one beam to hold them together.
How do you describe your design aesthetic? Has it evolved since your first design project?
For me, still, concept and aesthetics come first — because in our time there is much more functional and practical furniture than there are aesthetic objects. I mean, when you go to IKEA you can buy practical objects or furniture at low prices. For me, the aesthetic of the furniture itself is a function. People are always changing their furniture, and the reason they’re changing it or throwing it away is because they don’t want to have that aesthetic in the house. My work creates atmosphere and is aesthetically interesting. This, I guess, is its function.
You're currently based in Paris, what's the advantage to being based here, compared to Korea?
So I lived in the Netherlands for nine years in total, and then I decided to move to Paris. Eindhoven is a good place to start a career; I really appreciate the city — because it's where I've grown, and I've learned — but while I was living in the Netherlands, I always had this desire for something else. Eindhoven is a great city, but culturally it is quite dry. In the beginning, I thought about moving to Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but then I realised I wanted to change the atmosphere completely. My other options were London or New York — mainly because my brother and my cousin live in the US. But in the end, I wanted to stay in Europe, and yes London is a nice city — culturally very active, but historically Paris has been a meaningful place for design. In the end, everything came together, and I decided to move to Paris.
Wonmin, standing in front of the PLAIN CUTS Shelf which looks simple but making it was a complicated process. The boxes are literally floating yet are held together by one line.
Your works have always been in the design/art realm. Has there been any mass production company approach you to design for them? Are you interested in creating those products? Why (or why not)?
With small production work, I have much more freedom in my work. I will do mass production work when I have good idea and good feeling about it. But at the moment I'm busy with my own works.
Are you aware that other designers are using the same ideas as your HAZE series? What's your opinion on that?
I know there were similar designs and ideas after my HAZE series. But this always happens. It's how trend works. Followers.
Lastly, design is important because...
We are living with it.
Wonmin Park's Exclusive Solo Shows of New Works will be held at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, New York, from 24th January - 10th March 2018. For more info, visit here.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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