The contemporary South Korean designer Shun Yoon currently resides in The Hague, Netherlands.
Always passionate about ‘making’, Shun Yoon prefers design over art. For him, design has a stronger context of daily life than art: ‘I have seen many designers talk about an attitude toward life through their own voices. And I liked it. Also, I liked making. I used to make furniture for myself and friends before I studied design. When I decided to be a designer, I wanted to have more experience from outside of the ‘normal life’, borders or zones.’
Therefore a study in the design field felt like a consequential choice for him. He favored the Netherlands because of his admiration of how Dutch designers approached ‘design’ concept-wise.
During his studies at the Royal Academy of Art, Shun understood that the essence of the design hides in its concept. And that as a subject, ‘design’ dramatically differs from the usual mass-produced industrial design.
‘At the art academy, I spent most of the time observing and thinking of how symbols are being made. Including taking into account their functional context and abstract narrative. I see in that sense the design has so much potential for communication. I have learned how to weave it together within a certain context. More than that, I started appreciating everything that I have ever experienced.’
Last year he graduated from the academy in the field of Interior Architecture & Furniture Design with the focus on a last. Not so long after Shun Yoon started his own studio.
‘Starting my own practice was quite an obvious decision for me. But like others, I had an extremely tough time during graduation in 2020. During that time the Covid pandemic just started. And still, it goes on today. It has affected and changed a lot of my plan and life.
Even though I have an idea, and energy, and enthusiasm for making a good object, the situation was not the easiest to get through. Most of the time I stayed at home. And naturally, I came to think of the role of design for myself.’
For Shun Yoon, one of the roles of contemporary design is to perform meaningful communication of the aspects of diversity through everyday life.
For example, when one looks at a usual chair at home, he/she does not know where it comes from; the background story, etc. Those boring objects that we surround ourselves with daily moments became a part of our generic everyday life. And these ordinary objects can not cause exciting feelings as they just perform simple everyday functions.
Context-wise, Shun wants to spike curiosity, and imagination in a viewer’s eye. His surprising designs make you wonder and they exist for that purpose. They show his personality as a designer without any additional words.
‘The human being lives by experiencing a variety of boundaries that exist in life. And I believe the difference expressed through the boundaries is an essential element that helps understand the rich diversity.’
‘I have researched a methodology that makes a valid connection and reveals the relationship between different images. And rethinks the cultural landscape in a functional context through contemporary design behavior. My work ethics always include this sense of the subject.
My design practice highlights the key role of ‘paying attention to’ and places its universal elements in a context. Because of that, it became necessary for me to observe the daily moments, the routines. Therefore I think of possibilities to display ‘difference’ from the point when our domestic circumstances are being routinized.
Bringing the tension of existence in between the function and imagination of an object or things inspires me. This perspective reveals my existence as a designer.’
Doing various researches simultaneously and continuously, Shun Yoon has no linear flow when it comes to the production of a design piece. In the design process, he focuses on making, and usually, new ideas come when he works directly with his hands.
The action of making and ‘seeing’ with hands became an important part of his practice. As well as maintaining a steady state of mind until naturally over time ‘contact points’ appear.
As he explains further: ‘I like to make things by hand and I feel that somehow this is a way of translating my personality to the object. I am not depending on sketching on a blank white paper in the early stages of design. I know many designers are good at that but it doesn’t work out for me because it can not give enough information about what I’m trying to see.’
Shun believes that the process of making and experimenting with materials in various dimensions is steadily carried out through the entire process of design.
More than that, the decisions concerning the material, shape, structure, form, surface, and color are always revealed as these discoveries accumulate. For him, it is like having an infinite conversation with himself and the object.
‘All of my projects are about the ‘moment of starting’. It is about the start of envisioning diversity, imagination and about raising questions of existence. Because of this, my works have openness and are waiting to be discovered by the audience on their own.’ — Shun Yoon.