Six designers reimagine conventional Korean mother-of-pearl craft for contemporary life

Marcel Wanders, Stefano Giovannoni and Elena Salmistraro are amongst a gaggle of worldwide designers to have put a recent spin on the normal Korean craft of mother-of-pearl inlay, in a collaboration with native artisans.

The six designers have been commissioned by South Korea’s Duson Gallery to provide a collection of espresso tables along with artisans from the Tongyeong space, which is famend for its work with mother-of-pearl, recognized in Korean as “jagae”.

The ensuing items have been proven within the exhibition Mom-of-Pearl Tables on the Triennale Milano throughout Milan design week.

The Mom of Pearl Tables exhibition included work by Korean designer Younghee Cha

The Duson Gallery aimed for the undertaking to make sure the way forward for the craft of “najeon” or “najeon-chilgi”, which entails inlaying mother-of-pearl into lacquered objects and has a historical past within the area courting again over 1,000 years.

“A variety of mother-of-pearl artisans suppose the approach is completed,” Duson Gallery founder Yangsoo Kim informed Dezeen. “However I am making an attempt to cheer them up. I actually need mother-of-pearl to be one of many luxurious supplies.”

“Once we take into consideration luxurious objects from the West, we consider Louis Vuitton or Hermes,” he continued. “However 150 years in the past, a whole lot of luxurious got here from China, the Qing Dynasty and Japan additionally. Now we’ve to make a steadiness of East and West in a globalised world.”

Foglia mother-of-pearl tables by Studio Alessandro Mendini
Studio Alessandro Mendini developed the Foglia desk from one among his sketches

The tables within the exhibition embody a chunk developed by Studio Alessandro Mendini from one of many late designer’s sketches. Titled Foglia, it has a big jagae leaf inlaid into its black high and a contrasting pink and yellow star-shaped base.

The studio labored with Korean designer Younghee Cha to grasp the piece, which then grew to become the start line for the gallery to ask a bigger group of worldwide designers to take part.

These designers embody Wanders, who created a black tub-shaped design titled Fiore Fossil with a black lacquered type nearly fully coated with inlay.

Wanders’ purpose with the piece was to create the impact of a pebble being sliced open to disclose its inside, recalling and honouring the supply for mother-of-pearl, mollusc shells.

Mother-of-pearl Tables exhibition by Duson Gallery at the Triennale di Milano
Marcel Wanders’ design is sort of a pebble sliced open to disclose its “true nature”

“This materials is principally an oyster, it is principally a pure factor that is a part of the ocean,” Wander informed Dezeen. “So I did not need it to simply be a floor. As an alternative, I made this pebble that reveals its true nature when you slice it, after which this coral-type pure mural pops out.”

Essentially the most troublesome of the designs for the artisans to make was Salmistraro’s, which has a cyclone-like form with a central void created by means of rotation. The shape references a conventional Korean fashion of hat referred to as a gat.

Mother-of-pearl Tables exhibition by Duson Gallery at the Triennale di Milano
Elena Salmistraro’s Molan desk was essentially the most troublesome for the artisans to grasp

In addition to advanced and finicky inlay alongside its high and a few aspect surfaces, the piece incorporates a round pane of smoked glass that cuts by means of its trio of black laquered base types, and that the Duson Gallery mentioned underscores “the class and lightness of the item”.

Giovannoni’s contribution is Cherry Tree, impressed by the normal arboreal image of the East. Its lacquered ash wooden base is supposed to recall the trunk of the tree, whereas the tabletop represents a sectional view of its branches, with a curving, winding sample of jagae inlay.

Mother-of-pearl Tables exhibition by Duson Gallery at the Triennale di Milano
Stefano Giovannoni’s design is predicated on a cherry tree

A departure from black laquer comes with designer Marco Zanuso Jr’s Soban, which has a shiny purple high with contrasting slatted wooden legs and a scattering of round inlaid items in numerous sizes. A reinterpretation of the normal Korean tray desk with the identical identify, Soban can be meant to nod to the Italian artwork of the Nineteen Sixties.

The ultimate design, Ocean, comes from Cha, who additionally assisted with Mendini’s desk. Her nesting tables characteristic two jagae motifs — one with a contour-like sample of traces suggesting waves crashing on the shore, and the opposite with small geometric items meant to reference the look of shells on the backside of the ocean.

The designs are all obtainable in restricted editions of 9 items per mannequin. Every is advanced to provide, with the najeon approach incoporating over 30 steps together with making ready the bottom, carving indentations for the inlay and gluing the items in.

Wanders described it as a “very distinctive” and “wonderful high quality” craft, whereas Duson Gallery’s Yangsoo Kim mentioned jagae ought to be higher recognized for its fascinating properties.

Mother-of-pearl Tables exhibition by Duson Gallery at the Triennale di Milano
Marco Zanuso Jr’s Soban desk references Nineteen Sixties Italian artwork

“Mom-of-pearl was initially exchanged as cash so this was one among our first supplies,” mentioned Kim. “Relying on the sunshine and angles it seems to be completely completely different. No one can say what the color is.”

“Mom-of-pearl is a very conventional pure materials however it has a personality for the longer term.”

Najeon is much like the craft of marquetry, the place advanced patterns are created by inlaying veneers or different materials, and which has in previous years been revived by designers akin to Jaime Hayon, who created a vibrant pavilion utilizing the approach, and Adam and Arthur, who designed a statuesque cupboard.