Korean designer Jinsik Kim is somewhat of a Wallpaper* veteran. We have been following his career ever since he founded his studio in Seoul in 2013. Presenting him as a ‘rising star’, we were the first to feature his functional silver pieces created in collaboration with French silver specialist Christofle while he was an ECAL student. We regularly checked in with Kim over the years, fascinated by his ability to seamlessly intersect materials such as stone and metal to create sculptural objects and furniture. We even commissioned him to create a minigolf installation for Wallpaper* Handmade in 2016, in collaboration with Spanish stone supplier Cuellar, Swedish flooring brand Bolon and Korean metal manufacturer Anun. 

A contemporary aesthetic from ancient inspirations

A portrait of Korean designer Jinsik Kim
Jinaik Kim. Photography: Sangpil Lee

His pared-back aesthetics, using raw materials, forms often stripped to a minimum and essential silhouettes employed to convey function, are the result of regular observations of his environment. He notes: ‘If you look at old houses in Korea, colours or decorations are often kept to a minimum, so that materials and their original texture and colour are revealed. As time goes by, their natural beauty emerges.’

He often goes back to memories of living with his grandparents at their house for inspiration, in particular an old gate made of wood and tiles, left untouched in its original design, near which he used to play as a child. ‘I think these raw memories have affected me: since then, I think that the atmosphere of a space is more important than its visible function.’

Low wooden table with chunky profiles
‘Soften‘ table for Portuguese brand Portaventura. Photography: Ivo Oliveira Rodrigues

His fearless approach to materials is what attracted Nendo’s Oki Sato, who has been following Kim’s career since his ECAL days and named him as one of 25 creative leaders of the future in Wallpaper’s 25th anniversary ‘5x5’ project. ‘His special approach toward materials is very inspiring, he is not afraid of combining different materials, but looks as if he is enjoying the jam session with them,’ says Sato.

Kim’s current focus is exploring ‘the modern possibilities of design’, looking into the way touch, smell and sound can be communicated through his work. The results of this exploration will be channelled into a brand he is developing with a Seoul-based entrepreneur, to ‘create an intersection of five senses through objects and space. With simple details, we try to connect the past and the present and find a simple expressionist aesthetic.’ §

Minigolf by Jinsik Kim
Minigolf installation for Wallpaper* Handmade, 2016
Sculptural pieces by Jinsik Kim featuring a metal bases and large rocks on top, photographed over a white background in a quarry

Weight Collection, 2018. Photography: Sangpil Lee

Wooden screen made of interlocking pieces

A screen from Jinsik Kim’s upcoming brand launch

Narrow work table with wheels, featuring metal legs and marble top

Untitled work table. Photography: Sangpil Lee