CW Interiors |
Focus Story | July 2014

Functional art

Korean architect I L Hoon Roh's product designs are inspired by nature and confirm a strong connection with his background in architecture.

Ramus M1 Table
The Ramus M1 is an architectural sculpture piece which combines the strength of carbon fibre together with the structural advantages that can be found in the branch of a tree, maximising its structural strength.

Luno Armchair
A design that was a slave of gravity, the Luno armchair designed by I L Hoon is made of carbon fibre string woven together by hand. Luno means 'curve' in Latin and this chair got its curves through experiments conducted by suspending a string at many different positions, allowing gravity to shape the final form, resulting in a curvature which is smooth and natural. To materialise this curve, a hexagonal shape was used on the surface, and carbon fibre strings were woven from such surface to the metal base. Each carbon fibre string was allowed to find its most optimal position, resulting in a strong and efficient final product.

Fabric Table Radiolaria
Very organic looking, the geometries of this table were designed with a fabric stretching design technique replicating building processes found in nature. To generate these organic forms, a single piece of fabric was stretched by hand into a three-dimensional form, which was then hardened into the design. The resulting shapes were not pre-set but allowed to build themselves on the basis of natural building processes.

Table Radiolaria
The design of this table was inspired by the beehives made by bees and their natural process by which they optimise the shape and position of the various chambers in the beehive. A structural analysis program was used to simulate and locate stress points in order to strengthen weaker areas. Alloy was used to give shape to this experiment.

Armed with an AA Diploma from the Architectural Association in London and a Masters degree from the Royal College of Art in London, architect and designer I L Hoon Roh, within two years of establishing his studio, was selected as a Next Generation Design Leader in South Korea. He likes to call his works functional art sculptures instead of furniture and uses his experience of working with Foster + Partners to enhance the process of design. In a tOte a tOte with Sumisha Gilotra, he speaks about his inspirations and more...

What made you pursue product design instead of architecture?
Design and architecture, to me, are not separate. I approach all my designs as if I am designing a building. In my mind, sculpture, architecture, design art are all the same.

So what inspires your works?
The main inspiration for my works is nature. From nature, I find the best method and the most efficient way of designing, I am constantly learning from it. What I am trying to do is to bring that method into my works.

How does architecture influence your work patterns and designs?
My approach is the same. I run the projects as I used to when I was working for Forster and Partners. For developing projects, study models and sketches are required; later on, ideas solidify and require more detailed input. For me, I have only one design process really.

Give us examples of your designs which are inspired by architecture?
My most recent project Luno was inspired by Gaudi's work, La Sagrada Familia - I looked at how he used strings and weights and used gravity to calculate the perfect geometry. I allow the natural laws of physics to play their part but as I carried out many experiments, I gained more control over it and the rules embedded within nature became my designing tool. In the case of the Luno, it was the gravity and how that influenced strings, which later formed the gentle curvature.

What are you currently working on?
I am working on creating a lighting sculpture. I am using new materials, so am excited to see how this experiment will turn out.

What materials do you like experimenting with most?
These days I am working with carbon fibre a lot - I like the flexibility and strength of this material. But I will be experimenting with different materials if that suits future project better.

What are you currently working on and what can we expect from you in the future?
I think I will continue to do what I am doing now - trying to find the most efficient and beautiful designs from nature and trying to capture it.

Tel: +82 (0)10 8933 4195.

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