February 08, 2017
Looking to add to the minimalist vibe in your home? Or perhaps you're looking for that accented piece? Jin Choi is a local Vancouver craftsman, and one of our latest Kabuni featured artists.
With roots in Korea, Jin moved to Canada at the age of 13. A handyman around the house, Jin has always enjoyed building things with his hands. But it wasn’t until he met his wife, then an art student, that he realized his true potential as a designer and craftsman. Sharing their visions and goals, they've evolved their philosophy together over the years.
Jin’s work is hugely influenced by traditional Korean and Scandinavian design. He believes they are both united in their underlying design principles – geared towards simplicity, minimalism and functionality. Each school of thought has a deep rooted love of wood and embraces its organic element. Favouring rawness and authenticity, embellishments are few; without the distraction of complex design, the natural material speaks for itself. The innate beauty of nature is brought to the fore – the patterns and grains of wood presented in all their glory. Wood exudes real warmth and beauty through its appearance, muted tone, and tactile essence. Always a reminder of the outdoors, it creates the perfect environment to unwind in…nurturing a soothing and calming ambiance.
Korean interior design aligns itself very closely with nature, and favours the aesthetics of natural light and natural materials. Veering away from any hint of artificiality, it ditches excessive, complex design. Furniture is compact, small in stature and low to the ground to complement the modest size of Korean homes, as well as to cater to the custom of sitting on cushions, on the floor. Scandinavian design is also minimalist, with basic forms at the core of its design aesthetic. As in Korean interiors, organic elements and rustic wood grain patterns are top of the design agenda. Jin fuses together these approaches with his No. 5 Coffee Table. Made from walnut veneered top, with solid walnut base, it’s ideal for the modern condo. The "less is more" mantra comes into play, with forms and finishes aimed towards a common goal - to be simple.
Jin does not work exclusively with one type of wood. Instead he's happy to embrace the dizzying array that are available at his fingertips, especially here on the West Coast. At the moment, he's largely using walnut and white oak with straight grains. The straight grains are a surefire way to enhance the simple and minimalistic design. While both woods have that eye-catching quality; walnut for its light to dark colour transition, white oaks for its striped grain pattern with flecks of yellow. Jin's home accessories embrace the minimal interior design look, and will easily slot into any sleek interior. His understated Pole Lamp is inspired by nature. The concrete base a representation of earth, while the maple body symbolic of a tree. Driven by purpose, it's an elegant lamp, simply shaped with clean lines, and adorned with a touch of brass as a final decorative flourish.
What attracted you to becoming a furniture maker?
I like working with my body. Using my strength and flexibility to my the best of my ability, and pushing the limits. I’m attracted to the aesthetics of wood.
Tell us about your style and approach to furniture making. What materials you use and why.
I love to work with wood. It’s feels alive even when it’s being processed and handled. However, there are many restrictions in the making process. It’s not a malleable material therefore it can’t be moulded or bent easily. And it needs to be a certain thickness to support itself; otherwise it gets dents and scars and so on. Yet it breathes, it is inconsistent, it is kind and beautiful. And I think such characteristics of wood make the material attractive. It can’t be manipulated. It has its limits and strengths...it is honest.
I believe good furniture begins with good wood. This is why I spend a long time choosing my materials. I aim to celebrate the characteristic of the wood in my design – I’m inspired by the material itself. This is probably why my design consists of restrained forms and lines. I don’t want form and line to distract the characteristics of wood.
Any fellow designers or artists you are inspired by?
Myung Bae Park
By Clare Langrishe