Furniture brand Wekino has made its debut outside of South Korea, presenting a collection by six Korean design studios at Stockholm Furniture Fair that included worm-like book holders and a colourful amorphous mirror.
Called Wekino With, the collection was made by Wekino in collaboration with Stockholm-based Note Design Studio and showcased products by designers including Kwangho Lee.
Among the pieces on show at the Swedish furniture fair was Lee’s wooden Pirouette shelf, which features circular dividers that can be spun around to change its appearance.
Studio Cha Cha presented its Chroma mirror, an amorphous mirror that was inspired by South Korean textiles made from weaving together leftover scraps of fabric.
The Wekino With collection also featured Studio Word’s Oddly rug, which drew on a painting from Korea’s Joseon era that depicted “strange” rock shapes, the brand said.
It has an irregular pattern and was designed with varying pile heights to give it a tactile feel.
Wekino decided to launch Wekino With at the fair because of its collaboration with Note Design Studio, which it chose to work with after considering a number of different Scandinavian brands.
“We’ve been planning to come here [to the fair] for four or five years and it’s the first time we’re showcasing our collection in Europe,” Eun Suk Ji, who co-founded Wekino with Soojin Kim, said at the tradeshow.
Note Design Studio and Wekino wanted the introduction of Wekino With in Stockholm to be a starting point for a wider global launch, the brands explained.
“Our plan is to start in Stockholm and then we go to Milan and maybe Copenhagen,” said Note Design Studio founding partner Cristiano Pigazzini.
“First we have to try and it’s better to adjust the errors you can make on a smaller scale. And of course, since we’re based here, it’s easier for us to help them.”
The idea behind the Wekino With collection was to showcase South Korean studios without referencing traditional Korean design too much, but rather focusing on its current design scene.
“Our first impression of the city of Seoul was the contrast between the hypermodern and the very traditional aspect of the city,” Note Design Studio product designer Joong Han Lee said.
“The keyword that we gave the Korean designers was juxtaposition; to contrast and coexist at the same time.”
The collection was also an opportunity to show the strength of South Korean manufacturing.
“Seoul is still an exciting city for urban manufacturing,” Han Lee said. “If you go to a certain district, there’ll be a person there who’s just casting aluminium while smoking a cigarette.”
“For designers, it’s heaven – when you invite your designer friends from outside of Korea, they want to settle down there because everything is possible, from graphic design to product and architecture.”
All of the furniture and accessories shown at Stockholm Furniture Fair were made in South Korea apart from design firm Studio Pesi’s Stout chair, which was produced in Italy and made from powder-coated tubular steel.
The exhibition also displayed creative studio Kuo Duo’s fun, undulating Book Worm, an organically shaped sand-casted aluminium tube that can be used to store books and magazines, and its Reel hanger made from the same material.
Finally, Wekino designed two of the pieces at the furniture fair itself, among them the plump Billow lounge chair that the brand says was informed “by heavy clouds resting above the mountains”.
It also showed its modular Deed sofa, clad in a colourful blue-and-black striped fabric.
Wekino and Note Design Studio gave the studios free hands to come up with their designs for the collection.
“The most important thing for us was to make sure that the designers could express themselves,” Han Lee said.
“We weren’t worried about what kind of colour or shapes the designs would be, or the manufacturing process, because we trusted Wekino to be able to find a way to realise the ideas of the designers.”
Other projects on show during Stockholm Design Week included a collaboration between British designer Faye Toogood and Finnish furniture brand Vaarnii and Normann Copenhagen chairs made from eelgrass and hemp.
Wekino With is on show from 6 to 10 February 2024 at stand A07:14, Stockholm Furniture Fair, Stockholmsmässan, Mässvägen 1, 125 30 Älvsjö, Sweden. See Dezeen Events Guide for more architecture and design events around the world.