Fritz Hansen collaborates with Korean designers for first time
For the first time in its 150-year history, Danish furniture design company Fritz Hansen has collaborated with Korean designers and artisans.
To celebrate its anniversary, a special exhibit titled “Shaping the Ordinary” is showcasing the chronological history of the brand, famous for its Scandinavian furniture designs, and its anniversary collection at the Culture Station Seoul 284 in Jung District, central Seoul.
The Korea Craft & Design Foundation (KCDF), which organized this exhibition along with Fritz Hansen Korea, proposed the “Korea Project,” which includes a collection from Korean designers and intangible cultural heritage artisans on display as part of the show.
“No Korean designer has ever participated in creating a Fritz Hansen product before,” said Kim Tae-hoon, president of the KCDF during a press event on Friday. “So we thought the Korea Project would be a great opportunity to see Korean designers reinterpret Fritz Hansen’s designs and present them to the public. You’ll notice how some of the Fritz Hansen furniture on display has incorporated elements of Korean culture.”
“Honestly, as a Korean person myself, I’ve always been frustrated that no Korean designer has ever partnered with Fritz Hansen,” said Lee Soo-hyun, country manager of Fritz Hansen Korea. “There are so many outstanding designers here in Korea as well, and we wanted to promote them through this exhibition.”
The Korea Project is divided into two sections: a selection of designers (Lee Suk-woo, Ledongil and Choi Hyung-moon) and artisans (Seo Sin-jeong, Jung Kwan-chae, Jung Soo-hwa and Choi Jeong-in).
The three designers each proposed newly-made products that Fritz Hansen is currently in the process of deciding whether to actually sell.
“We’ve been receiving positive feedback,” said Cha Jeong-wook, the director of the exhibition.
“There are already a lot of Japanese designers that have worked with Fritz Hansen, which is why we proposed the Korea Project,” Cha continued.
Designer Lee’s “Wood Drop” is a water drop-shaped wooden tray that Fritz Hansen has shown particular interest in, Cha said, as the brand does not currently have many tableware items.
Designer Choi Hyung-moon’s flower vases, called “Courtyard,” hope to follow in the footsteps of Fritz Hansen’s flower vases, which are bestsellers in Asia.
The artisans’ works, however, are merely a slight modification of original Fritz Hansen products, in terms of surface finish materials and techniques.
“Intangible cultural assets can branch into numerous fields, like the formative aspect, material and techniques,” Cha said. “We believe Fritz Hansen is already prominent in the formative aspects, which is why we chose four artisans that specialize in the surface finish area: lacquerware, natural dye, embroidery and bamboo weaving.”
Jung Kwan-chae covered a 1958 version of Fritz Hansen’s famous Egg chair with indigo patchwork, dyed with natural pigments. A description of this piece on the exhibition’s walls explains that indigo is most difficult to produce due to a complicated process of development.
Choi Jeong-in embroidered “Chochungdo,” a series of paintings depicting plants and insects by Shin Saimdang (1504-1551), an artist of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), onto Fritz Hansen’s 1958 Swan chair.
“These pieces are an homage to the long-standing techniques and the craftsmanship of the artisans,” Cha said.
The exhibition puts emphasis on the “academic process” through a 16-minute-long documentary and a portion dedicated to the chronologic written history of Fritz Hansen that Cha hopes visitors will “concentrate on.”
“Shaping the Ordinary” continues until Dec. 11. Culture Station Seoul 284 is open every day except Mondays, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibition is free to all.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]