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Set in Stone - JinSik Kim on designing functional sculpture


Set in Stone - JinSik Kim on designing functional sculpture


JinSik Kim's career is off to a great start. Within three years of graduating from ECAL, his portfolio has seen him touring the world with his HalfHalf Collection, collaborating with Wallpaper* Handmade, launching new designs with Christofle and last but not least, putting on a solo show at Seoul's Sophis Gallery - all done by the age of 34.

"I loved the purity of the form and the contrast of the materials." commented fellow Korean fashion designer Eudon Choi after seeing his work in Milan where Kim designed a mini golf course for Wallpaper* Handmade. And when the new edition of 'Collect' craft fair rolled around this year, he unequivocally selected Kim's "HalfHalf round Circle 120" as the Object of The Day, which made Kim a very happy lad indeed.  

After finishing up his solo show 'Balance from a Line' (and of course, listing with us), we've been able to get to know more about him and chat about his upcoming endeavours.

"HalfHalf  round" sketch

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
The starting point of my design is to explore a line for different shapes. What I believe in is that an object, consisting of 2D lines, has to have clarity and preciseness if it exists in the environment here. You cannot only watch unstable lines with a function on my design but also there is a minimal line added into the design to make objects stable by standing on its own. That method is dissolved on the collections like a bowl to put fruits or a table to place something. I am extremely interested in finding a connecting point out for balance between lines, as a designer. It is for people to savour slowly function or message hidden in shapes of the objects metaphorically for a long time. You can feel tension and liveliness from that asymmetric shape become stable.
Marble seems to be a constant material in your work. Would you say that's your favourite material?
I am familiar with stone because of my memories playing with stone as a kid. Marble has a lot of potential, for example, weight, sculptural qualities, colour and patterns, so I want to formulate functional sculpture made of marble. It delights me to find contemporary value by making contrasts between natural materials, which people have used from a long time ago, and minimal shape by industrial production methods.  

Craftsmen working on Kim's"HalfHalf Collection"

Where do you find your inspiration?

I was born outside of Seoul and I grew up with my grandparents in a small village, under a traditional lifestyle. In the village, people made objects that they needed and I respect that attitude. So, not only do I want to design objects concisely but also to reflect my design language, to wake up pureness of people.

What made you want to design “design/art" pieces rather than industrial designs that Korean designers are mostly known for?

I would like to put my effort into design art because it is a small part in Korea. It is really an important thing to make various opinions for living, culture and society via design. In Korea, we don't have many options for design objects. People are familiar with mass productions from larger companies but I believe that independent designers need to question why we are alive and how we live. My question is that design can be a poem or a sculpture.

'Balance From a Line', his solo show in Seoul.

"One Point" minigolf designed for Wallpaper* Handmade also shown in the show

Tell me more about your solo show "Balance from a Line".

First of all, what I want to show is my design language as a person. My question is how to develop design pieces into sculptural pieces or poetic one. The answer is a line to make an abstract shape with hidden functions. To know objects slowly is really important for my design. I hope that people appreciate my design slowly like a poem.

What's the biggest challenge in putting on this show?

Conceptualization for me is hard but production of design pieces is also so difficult. I wanted to make wood of winter forest, but made of metal. There are frosted room dividers made of aluminium which create a mood that you don’t recognise, as deep in space as a forest. That is my main concept of space design. My biggest challenge was how to make an artificial winter forest and what material can create the mood. Finally, I developed aluminium sheet scratched and zinc for the conception. 

What hopes do you have for this show? And was the response as you expected?

I hope to hear different questions about a variety of culture, material, space and designer’s role relative to designs. It is really important to show people what I imagine and what I can do. The exhibition can create a new link for me to explore new concept and space. New challenges always make me feel alive. 

A peek inside his studio in Seoul, with a glimpse of his earlier works "The Stone Age".

What made you want to be based here in Seoul? What are the advantages?

At ECAL, it was fantastic for me but it was quite hard to communicate with local technicians in their language. It is not possible to produce everything by my hands. Here, I can talk to many technicians to produce design pieces or develop a concept. They inspired me as they have deep know-how and understanding about production. It is exciting to ask them hard questions about production and it is also a new challenge for me as well.   

What is a typical working day for you like?

I work from 10 am to 7 pm but I normally spend a long time at work as my house is just beside it. I prefer to take the time to think after coming up with the idea. It is a big part of a design to clean up all the ideas in my head (so that it has a) concise contexture like a poem.

Various prototypes on display in his studio, including this "HalfHalf Low Table".

Where will we see you next?

In September, the HalfHalf collection will be shown at Cheongju Craft Biennale 2017 (13 Sept - 22 Oct). I will make a more colorful version of the mirror collection, which is totally different from what was shown at the solo show. I will probably show my new pieces under a special theme in Seoul this year. I don't have all the details yet but I think people will enjoy the new pieces.


Find out more about Jinsik Kim and his works 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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