korean contemporary furniture design by bae se hwa




south korean contemporary design: bae sehwa, kang myungsun, bahk jong‐sun, and lee hun chung. an exhibition of objects and furniture from four of korea’s top designers is currently on show at the edward tyler nahem fine art gallery in new york.


nature is a prominent theme in the objects on view, which include the here featured sculptural seating furniture in bent walnut by bae se hwa that doubles as storage. bae se hwa, who suggests objects consisting of line and surface as new concept for furniture, has been gaining positive response since his successful international debut at the 2010 design miami fair in basel. starting as a prismatic diagram that is then modified into elegant curves, bae’s steam series recalls a dynamic yet gentle image of landscape. he attempts to embody emotional function that exides calm and serene qualities in furniture, utilizing geometric elements to simply distort structure or arrive at new form and function through deconstructing and recombining.


 steam 12 by bae se hwa



bae’s furniture is a sculptural object that invites one to meditate or lie down, as it has rhythm and peacefulness, which brings ease to the mind. wood as its primary material, is reborn with a new structure made of slices of wood that are bent and distorted through the use of steam bending. this essential technique not only communicates sensibility, but also plays a major role in the piece’s realization as the designer touches and communes with the wood as a master craftsman. his working philosophy is to derive balance of moderation and harmony in form and function. to the designer, the process of removing complex elements and simplifying it is a journey to find the balance between ying and yang, and to create a ‘medium’ for harmonious communication between human and object in nature.


steam 11 by bae se hwa



curvaceous, yet moderate designs in bae’s new chair and bench series remind us of some of the principles at heart of art nouveau’s decorative and delicate sculptural view inspired from nature, while it captivates us of its minimal and moderated beauty. his furniture surpasses its boundaries, however and carries clear function and structure to be categorized as sculpture. 


steam 11 by bae se hwa



ae se hwa’s work is derived from the korean concept of ‘baesanimsu’, meaning the back of the mountain and front of the water… and he draws heavily from the profound connection to nature in traditional korean theories of divination.




the steam series offers a narrative that includes both the tranquil, meditative qualities of flowing water and the strong, comforting silhouette of a mountain.


the furniture is first digitally rendered where the geometric forms have been manipulated. the wood has been steamed and bent into a mold.



see also an early project by bae se hwa, ‘meditation 2’, submitted and shortlisted in designboom’s competition ‘the intelligent hand’, organized in collaboration with the milan trade fair MACEF (now entitled HOMI).