Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Had I not been introduced by designer Jinsik Kim, I might not have realised that Studio ilio - founded by Royal College of Art graduates Seongil Choi & Fabio Hendry - were exhibiting at Craft Trend Fair and that they created the best design of the entire show.
Presenting a total of 6 pieces as a part of the SMART X CRAFT exhibition, their furniture looked primitive yet organically intriguing. One might not even think they're "designed" had they not been paired with modern utilities like mirrors and table tops. Also not to mention, the behind-the-scenes process of making them, i.e. Hot Wire Extensions, a process of making sculptures using the waste nylon powder of SLS SD printing to transform simple wire structures into solid bodies.
Basic (Top, black) and Random Stool (Bottom) from Spring Collection 2017.
But can it really be called "craft"? Some might wonder. As explained by curator Park Yongsuk, "The fundamental of a craft was to use easily accessible materials to make necessary objects...and in the age of completely new objects being created and easy access to foreign materials, how are crafts that are founded on regional features now adapting to changes?"
That's where Studio ilio's "SMART X PROCESS" section came in: to highlight their innovative manufacturing process and by using Korea’s regional craft materials attempting at a unique craft making process. Through this "smart" process, craftworks broke limitations of form and concept that craft materials, such as mother-of-pearl, Gyeongnam Hamyang stone, brass instruments, Ottchil, Jiseung, and Yangtae, once had.
And as the show wrapped up, we ask the duo how did they come to work together and what craft really meant to their design approach.
SMART X PROCESS presentation at Craft Trend Fair 2017.
Seongil: I was born in Seoul Korea and then soon moved to Michigan (US) until I was 9 and then raised and educated in Seoul. After my BA graduation, I worked in a design studio in Seoul which had based on architecture and furniture design. In 2013 I decided to go to London for further studies, which is where I met Fabio and started working with him
Fabio: I was born in Sedrun, a small village in the heart of the Swiss Alps. After having studied and working in Zürich for a couple of years, I continued my studies in Reykjavik in Iceland. Alongside with Seongil, we set up studio ilio in 2015 after receiving the MA from the Royal College of Art in London.
The name ilio was created while we were working on the first collection of stools during college. We wanted to present our project more professionally which led to a discussion about how to put on a show as if it was done under a studio practice. We had a deadline for submitting the information of the project for captions and text for the exhibition. The evening before the deadline we sat down at the desk and started to make up some names. We were not big fans of putting too much meaning in it or using big words as a name, so we just decided to find a word that sounds like a name by combining our actual names. So "il" is from Seong"il", and "io" comes from Fab"io". Simple as that.
SMART X PROCESS collection included Shelf (Top) that'd weaved traditional paper, Standing Light (Bottom Left) that'd weaved bamboo as the lamp shade and Table Mirror (Bottom Right) that'd incorporated traditional brass mirror.
Two heads are better than one. As a designer, we mostly work in a group or with other people, but it is rare to find someone that creates synergy. Making 1+1 = 3 or even 4. When we first worked together, we had very different personalities and ways of thinking and working, but the core value we find in work is very similar. This difference and similarity make a very good team. And as a good team, the work is naturally divided with the workflow.
We often say this project is our craft. And like any other craftsmen, we are still on the path of learning it. We think as long as we are doing this project we will always try to improve to process. It took us about a full year if you add all the fragments of the time we spent on the project, to develop the process to become functional. And still it is an ongoing research, recently it is more about mixing new materials in the compound so we can achieve texture, add layers of stories into the object…etc.
The Hot Wire Extensions started over as an investigation in the "model of nature" with its forms and structures. Then, a series of twelve stools was created to explore the structural potential of this process, showcasing the strength of the material and the flexibility of the process.
We think that new possibilities of aesthetics and function come from new ways of making. Our approach to this is to start from the fundamental of making and to present the process through the objects we choose to make. The style would be naturally and strongly driven by the making process and material we use. Sometimes we think not only one object is enough to show the potential and context of the process, so we show multiple but very diverse and different styles of the same object, hoping that the audience could see the possibilities of different applications and function through the diverseness. That is actually how the first '12 stools' collection of Hot Wire Extensions was planned.
For more info about Studio ilio, 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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