Incan Ruins Inspired this Modern Furniture Collection
Malaysian-born designer Jiun Ho draws on his worldly travels
To celebrate his 15th year in business, San Francisco-based designer Jiun Ho has introduced a furniture collection that draws heavily on his almost obsessive love of travel. In the past few years he has visited over 100 countries on five continents: Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America.
His 16-piece Jiun Ho Collection V is a tangible travelogue. Some of Ho’s most dramatic pieces are the Pisac cabinets, inspired by Ho’s visit to Peru’s Sacred Valley and the small community nestled outside. Ho based the design on the fine incised masonry he saw among the Incan ruins. “They were perfectly cut and stacked, had no grout, and they are still standing,” he marveled. Both the buffet and the night table have precisely fitted, stone-shaped drawers. For accents, he chose vibrant colors inspired, he said, by the bold primary palette of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. The resulting pieces artfully combine the ancient with the modern, a continuing motif in Ho’s work.
Ho got the travel bug from his parents, who frequently brought him on their trips from their native Malaysia throughout Asia. His mother told him, “You can be poor in life, but you want to be rich in experience.” He says that if he hadn’t become a designer, he would have been a pilot—so that he could see the world. To date, he has had no flying lessons, probably because he has been too busy managing his interior design business, his furniture company, and his shop, Jiun Ho De Jia, in San Francisco, a gallery where he sells a collection of his personally curated art and antiques.
Right after graduating from the International Academy of Merchandising & Design, in Chicago, he went to work for a large corporate design office that was based in San Francisco. Because he wanted to stay in the United States, the best option open to him was to start his own interiors business. Ho had no intention of becoming a product designer, but his very first client told him that she wanted pieces of furniture that none of her friends had. While he had never designed so much as a single table, to please her he started making watercolor sketches. She liked everything he showed her. He’s been designing furniture ever since.