Art & Photography

Seung-Yong Song: Intelligent Design

  • Chairs that double up as light bubbles, ladders and clothes racks – Korean designer Seung-Yong Song on how modern living inspired his compact designs

    Words Stephanie Kukulka
    Images courtesy
    Seung-Yong Song Studio

    When presented with objects that are multifunctional yet also aesthetically attractive, immediately eyebrows rise and heads nod. This is the work of Seung-Yong Song, one of three winners of 2013’s W Hotels Designer of the Future Award. Growing up in Yangsan, South Korea, Song practiced sculpture and later went on to study at the Reims School of Art and Design in France. This background weighs equally upon his inspirations, providing Song with a unique combination of consideration and desire. Port spoke with the designer about his most recent collection, Object, and his current project to be shown in Basel this June.

  • How did you begin your journey as a designer?

    Before studying in France, I was originally a sculptor. It wasn’t until a trip to Europe and visit to a college of art in Strasbourg, discovering design works combining aspects of art, that I decided to study design in France. This was my first step towards a designer’s life.

    In what ways do you feel your culture influences your designs?

    Korean culture seems to influence my work naturally – it can be found in the shapes, colours, and materials of my projects. On the other hand, Korean people say my works are influenced by European culture. I think living in France for eight years greatly influences my creations. Additionally, I take tremendous inspiration from personal experiences of routine life, especially from childhood memories and experiences.

    What thought do you put behind the materials you chose to use?

    The material is an important element; it should be logical and rational according to the structure, function and aesthetic. For example, I used birch plywood for my Object collection as this is a suitable material to ensure rigidity to the high forms. Additionally, to express a natural and enjoyable image in general, I used birch as it has a warm and bright nature. In the case of my Dami collection, I wanted to show a visually beautiful representation of the traditional Korean grille, which has light, yet sturdy, durability. The structures are made from Valchromat – a new CNC processing technique – making it possible to produce modern objects with traditional beauty.Object-E 2 Seung Yong Song

  • In regards to your most recent series, Object, what are some of the key motivators for the pieces you’ve created?

    Living in a small apartment in Paris instigated the Object collection. Despite being full with furniture and the usual junk, a small window let me forget how cramped the room was. Then I began to think about the pleasures and comforts of the space, even though it was small and uncomfortable. I wanted to create a cosy space – much like a bird’s nest, rather than huge mansion – with objects that make us feel the spiritual comfort and freedom of a space.

    What’s your personal favourite from the Object collection?

    Although each piece has its own personality, my favourite is the Object-O. As it needed a lot more research about the internal system of lighting and the usage of traditional Korean paper, making the work harder than usual. Therefore, when it was successfully completed – and just as cosy as I had imagined – I felt the greatest joy.

    What are you currently working on?

    As one of the three selected recipients of the 2013 W hotels designers of the Future Award, we have each been set the challenge of solving a specific design issue at an existing W Hotel. Entitled “Making Connections”, the brief was to create work that could “deepen the understanding of the regional characteristics of each area” and I was sent to Bangkok, Thailand. Currently I am working on this project, which will be shown in Basel in June.8 Objects-3 Seung Yong SongView more designs by Seung-Yong Song