Posted : 2018-01-12 16:58
Updated : 2018-01-12 19:14

Park Won-min pursues conceptual furniture design

Park Won-min's "Plain Cuts_Shelf" / Courtesy of the artist and Carpenters Workshop Gallery
By Kwon Mee-yoo

Park Won-min, also known as Wonmin Park, is a designer who captures minimal beauty in furniture design.

Park, who studied in the Netherlands and is based in Paris, is best known for his "Haze" series that uses simple geometric shapes of ethereal-colored resin.

Now Park has taken a step further, shifting from not-so-common resin to the popular furniture material aluminum.

"People remembered me and the 'Haze' series for the material because they think the material makes my furniture special," the designer said at an interview with The Korea Times, Monday. "So I wanted to try a material poles apart and picked aluminum. Resin is transparent and not often used for furniture, but aluminum is a common opaque material. I don't want to be a master of resin, but a designer who can work with a variety of materials."

Park majored in architecture in Korea, but advanced to the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

"I think architecture is a kind of design, just on a larger scale," he said. "Some of the critics interpret my works in an architectural way and I personally think furniture is architecture in miniature as well.

"Architecture deals with a more tangible scale for a single designer and the process is faster. It is easier for me to breathe my identity as a designer into furniture than architecture."

Upon graduation, Park decided to start his own business and luckily had a chance to exhibit at the Milan Design Week in 2013, which brought him a lot of attention.
As a furniture designer, he cannot ignore practicality, but Park focuses more on concept, such as purity, innocence and aesthetic.

"There is a lot of furniture in the market providing cost-effectiveness," Park said. "However, there is few offering artistic and aesthetic value. Design is the language and furniture completes the space, and that's where aesthetics play an important role. Still, I consider comfort while designing and test each piece personally. If you cannot sit on a chair, it's a sculpture, not furniture."

Designer Park Won-min / Courtesy of the artist and Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The "Haze" series brings such conceptual ideas to the forefront.

"I am fascinated by something that exists and does not exist such as natural light, rainbow and cloud," Park said. "I wanted to capture the translucent effect of light in furniture and thought resin was the right material to do it."

On the other hand, the material inspired the designer in the "Plain Cuts" series. "The idea of this new collection is to provide a minimalist and drastic process based on the construction of aluminum sheets with patina technique," he said. "Structures are exposed to the surface and it becomes part of the work itself."

The structure looks simple and minimalistic, but there are numerous calculations and exquisite techniques to complete its seamlessness.

"There's no visible weld face, but the metal sheets support against each other. I and my engineering team put in a lot of effort to actualize the concept and design," he said.

However, Park recognizes the importance of reflecting the spirit of the era in his design. "Out of the contemporary context, I might end up being a master crafter. However, I want to create something meaningful in the history of art now."

After the successful Paris exhibit from October to December 2017, Park will hold another solo exhibition at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York. In the two-story gallery, his latest aluminum pieces in the "Plain Cuts" series -- including tables, consoles, a light fixture and a chair, and colorful resin stools from the "Haze" series -- will be displayed from Jan. 24 to April 14.

"Some of the works are colorful, while others are monochrome, widening choices for my clients," he said.

Park said his creations are still developing. "I get to know myself better as I work on new pieces," he said. "I grew up in the East and studied in the West. I don't intentionally infuse Korean traits in my work, but my identity as a Korean is inherent in my designs. I am experimenting with ceramics and want to work with stone and glass later. In the long term, I might try designing a building, returning to where I began. I hope to be remembered as an innovative designer who attempted new ideas."

For more information about the artist, visit