We were proud to again be a sponsor and lead the jury for WantedDesign’s 2019 Launch Pad alongside EQ3, which was another year filled with incredible designs from designers from around the globe. The 2019 Launch Pad jury included Karen Hong, Buyer for Design Within Reach, Giulio Cappellini, Art Director, Marva Griffin Wilshire, Curator and International Press Director of Salone Satellite, Enri Tielmann, VP of Product Development of EQ3, and Shant Madjarian, Founder & Creative Director of Juniper.
Furniture design winner Seonhee Sunny Kim talks to Design Milk about her work, winning this year’s Launch Pad and what’s next:
How did you get started stretching fabric over forms? How do you come up with what the forms will look like underneath?
Anti-gravity yoga is one of my favorite hobbies. It is always impressive to me that how one sheet of the thin fabric holds a human’s body like hugging gesture. It makes me feel comfortable but also nervous at the same time. At first, I just wanted to share the novel experiences with the daily object. I started with covering various types of chairs with the hammock fabric. It was interesting to see that some part was revealed and the other part was hidden depending on the tension of the fabric. Later, I found the forms through the process of covering small mock-ups with fabric and adjusting the structure continuously.
What influences the forms you’re using in your work?
The forms I am using in my works are usually found by hands. Even before I have clear ideas about a new project, I start 3D sketches first with various materials. The process was close to the experiment and observation of uncovering the depth hidden beneath the surface. The forms of my work are about sharing those moments of discovery, rather than creating something new.
Who is your ideal customer?
I designed the depth of surface collection for people who need to take a breath with some jokes in serious situations. I imagine this piece as an ice breaker in office setting between coworkers or standing in a hotel lobby with many strangers. During the show, I met some children who enjoyed the pieces a lot, so I am thinking about a children’s version too.
Why did you include hidden experiences, like squeakers and wireless charging?
I tend to question what I know. I believe there is another side of things that I cannot see from my point of view. A surface is the outermost layer, the first layer we perceive. Even though it is only part of the whole, it is easy to perceive an object only through its surface, since that is all we see at a glance. However, when people start to question what they see, they want to know what is real or what they have missed. To invite these types of transitional experiences, I designed my objects with a simple but curious surface and hidden experiences. I believe that the real relationship starts with curiosity… beyond the perception of surface. I hope that my pieces can offer users an experience about this transitional moment.
What were some of the challenges in creating your products and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge of my work would be finding proper amount of tension for each piece. Depending on the function and size, the tensional depth became different. When I design a chair, it should have strong tension to support a human’s body while for a cell phone charger, it should be easy enough to touch the charging device under the surface. Originally, my idea started from the yoga hammock but I had to I seek different types of stretchable fabric for each concept. After I changed the materials, I need to come up with the ideas of how to cover them with. Through the test based on advices from fabric experts, I found a way to realize my ideas.
Now that you’ve won WantedDesign Launch Pad, what do you plan on doing next?
WantedDesign Launch Pad was full of surprises in terms of meeting amazing people and getting promising opportunities. During the show, I magically met Christopher Harrison who invented Anti-Gravity Yoga in the 1990s. He recognized the material from my chair at a glance and suggested collaborating on a custom piece of furniture with his own brand yoga hammock fabric. Also, I got a great opportunity of residency program presented by Cooper Union at this platform. Thankfully, I will have my first solo show with mainly with my lighting project around the end of July following the residency program at House 6b, Nolan Park, Governors Island, New York.
Honestly, I did not have any special plans before I participate this show. I was just hoping that I could keep my studio practice after graduation. Still I cannot make a clear plan, but now I believe that one chance will bring the another one… like the WantedDesign Launch Pad brought to me. I will continue capturing more transitional moments and share the experiences through my works. Thank you so much to the WantedDesign team that planning this platform for emerging designers and I really appreciate offering me the chance again to show next year.
See more of her work at studiosunnykim.com.