Kang Myung Sun, Bae Se Hwa, Bahk Jong Sun and Lee Hun Chung are among the talent featured in a new exhibition of objects and furniture at the Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art (ETNFA) gallery running February 26 – April 4. The designers incorporate tradition, craft and a reverence for raw materials in their works.
According to ETNFA, the appetite for Korean contemporary design has expanded globally in the last five years, with celebrated collectors of both design and modern and contemporary art embracing the movement. Sculptural, graceful and functional, the works in this exhibition would be at home in a range of environments, from traditional to contemporary.
The designers create works that feature cutting edge contemporary design while embracing the cultural traditions of Korea. They draw enormous inspiration from nature, which is reflected in the forms and textures of their work, many of which emulate figures or landscapes or suggest the colors of a particular season.
Here’s a closer look at the designers and their styles:
Myung Sun's "From the Glitter" chair
Myung Sun combines age-old techniques and unique materials to create practical objects that address modern concerns. By revitalizing traditional craftsmanship, such as 2,000-year-old lacquering methods paired with inlaid mother-of-pearl, Myung Sun creates elegant and visually dynamic functional works, including seating, tables and shelving that suggest landscapes of shimmering waves.
Se Hwa's "Steam" chair
Se Hwa’s use of wood relates directly to the influence of nature in his work. He is inspired by the traditional Korean interpretation of beauty as the harmony of nature, and seeks to convey a sense of calmness and peace through his designs. His furniture resembles the Korean landscape and mountains through their organic shapes and curved wood, reinforcing his desire to create a conversation between man and nature, inside and outside. He has refined and perfected a steam-bending technique that allows him to create works of exceptional scale, including two large benches that will be featured in this show.
Jong Sun's "Trans" desk
The thoughtful and transformative use of natural materials play a crucial role in conveying the history and philosophy of traditional and contemporary Korean design. The works of Jong Sun, created in woods such as cherry, beech and oak, often resemble whimsical structures or otherworldly creatures that emanate light from their spider-like frames. His limited edition desk and wall-mounted shelving have minimal, elegantly architectural forms that reveal traditional lacquer work and the rich graining of the wood.
Hun Chung's "Mushroom" stool
Devoted to Korean ceramic design techniques, Hun Chung strives to find a balance of tradition and modernity in his works. Using a kiln technique dating back hundreds of years, Hun Chung seeks to keep his work honest, as well as show respect for traditional processes and craftsmanship. Mirroring the colors and forms of nature, the seemingly chaotic patterns of his work contradict his careful, painterly control of palette that can be seen on closer observation. In Hun Chung’s hands, the solid ceramics, as well as other materials, take on a soft, almost cloud-like character. In addition to ceramics, Hun Chung incorporates cement to create structural works such as benches, tables, and functional installations. His most recent cement works are combined with ceramic, wood and corroded steel to show the extension of their function and usage in architectural terms.
The ETNFA gallery will host an opening night reception honoring the designers on Wednesday, February 26, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.