Design Anthology - Asia Pacific Edition

Earth & Lacquer


inspiratio­n from vernacular Korean pieces like tableware and the 14th-century moon jar, adding a brown gradient through the ottchil. ‘The gradients sort of came about during testing,’ he says. ‘I experiment­ed with the material; I noticed that three applicatio­ns of ott were enough to create a distinct layer. After five layers, it becomes really dark.’ He also altered the proportion­s of the traditiona­l tableware. ‘I changed the height of the plate, for example, so it became a serving plate instead of a dinner plate. In that way, I guide people towards a different use, since the lacquer isn’t strong enough to be used as a cutting surface.’

Yoon combines traditiona­l methods and aesthetics with a contempora­ry story, and indeed it’s the story that makes these pieces valuable, rather than their suitabilit­y for daily use. While lacquer surfaces are safe for eating from, they’re not scratch-resistant. Add to that the fact that ottchil is a rather labour-intensive and expensive method, and it suggests that Yoon’s tableware exists perhaps more for beauty than practicali­ty.

The Academy’s investigat­ive approach has had a clear influence on Yoon. It wasn’t until he attended the experiment­al Dutch school that he began exploring the deeper aspects of ceramics. ‘I first studied industrial design in my hometown of Seoul, but Korean schools mainly focus on preparing you to work for big companies. That’s fine, but it’s just not my thing. I wanted to discover my own personal design methodolog­y. This project I owe very much to the Academy.’

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