Korean designer Wonmin Park unveils ‘Stone & Steel’, a new body of work presented at Carpenters Workshop Gallery comprising ten new sculptural works handcrafted in Japan. Four years in the making, the tables and one chair in the series comprise bases made of volcanic rock – treated using different techniques and mixing raw, smooth and chiselled textures – and hand-cut steel tops.

Wonmin Park’s stone and steel furniture designs

Portrait of Wonmin Park with a low table from the collection, made of raw stone and steel top

A departure from Park’s usually precisely geometric work, the new collection marks a moment of growth for the designer into new creative and technical territories. ‘I like to use straight lines, I don’t want to design curved lines myself,’ he explains, citing works like the aluminium tables of the ‘Plain Cuts’ series (his debut in metal furniture, in 2017), compositions that simply combine slabs of the material into furniture forms. ‘Stone & Steel’ is a continuation of that first foray into metal furniture, and again, the designer assembled the materials with minimal interventions. 

The table tops seem to fit effortlessly onto the stone, the surface of which has been smoothed to become mirror-like and emerges, impossibly, from the precisely cut steel. The tops’ silhouettes mostly follow the rocks’ forms, in accordance with Park’s limited-intervention approach, which gives the pieces their strong organic aesthetic. 

Wonmin Park chair made with a stone base and steel back

For the bases, Park kept the stone’s expressive shapes and applied traditional Japanese chiselling techniques to create texture that contrasts with the rusty, oxidised surfaces; the combination of textures adds to the pieces’ richness. The designer looked to the Japanese and Korean artists of the 1960s Mono-ha movement for inspiration, citing their use of natural materials as an influence on his creative process. 

‘All the texture in the stone is actually created by unexpected accidents and it’s never the same, and this is so intriguing to me,’ he says. ‘The cut of the stone is vital to the success of each piece. Its linearity is something that nature cannot produce – only humans work in straight lines. The steel adds dimension to the cut line of the stone and extends it further into space, creating volume and balance.’ §

Table with stone base and square steel top
Aerial view of Wonmin Park table top in steel and smoothed stone
Detail of the materials used for the tables, including steel top and oxidised volcanic stone