Fast-Rising Furniture Designer Wonmin Park Makes U.S. Debut
Is it possible to make a piece of furniture that conjures the evanescent character of a rainbow? That’s a question Korean-born designer Wonmin Park set out to answer several years ago, when he was a student at the Netherlands’ influential Design Academy Eindhoven. Experimenting with various materials, Park eventually discovered resin, whose translucence made it an ideal medium for creating objects that give physical form to, as he puts it, “the quality of light found in nature, in the sky and water—and rainbows.”
The designer’s degree project at Eindhoven was a molded-resin table he called Unfocused, which featured arresting variations in opacity and tone, from blurry to nearly black. Within a year of Park’s graduation, the table was on view at tastemaker Rossana Orlandi’s Milan gallery during the Salone del Mobile, alongside a collection of tables and chairs he dubbed Haze. The luminescent cast-resin pieces, hand-tinted in pale hues, suggest mist and clouds and soft, filtered light. Park has since expanded the line with limited-edition armchairs and stools in more vibrant tones of orange, pink, and blue.
At the heart of Park’s practice is his fascination with exploring the character and aesthetic possibilities of materials, and lately he has been focusing on aluminum in a new body of work he calls “Plain Cuts.” Defined by precise geometric cubes and planes—with surfaces ranging from pristine to richly patinated—these tables and chairs are foremost about form and structure. One might be tempted to see in these seductively simple pieces the influence of Donald Judd’s minimalism, but Park bristles at such comparisons. “I’m not a minimalist,” he says. “That is a philosophy of art, and my aim is not to make art. I find the practical elements of designing furniture important, too.”
Carpenters Workshop Gallery, which recently showed pieces from the “Plain Cuts” series in its Paris space and at the PAD London fair, will present a solo show of new tables, chairs, and lighting at its New York gallery, January 24 through March 16. And the young designer is just getting started on other material inquiries—bamboo, glass, ceramics. “I’m part of the new generation,” Park says. “I need to keep trying different things.” wonminpark.com