Working out exactly when the Modernantique chair was designed can be a little challenging. Is it a overlooked jewel of mid-twentieth century modernism? Or is it entirely contemporary, born yesterday? If it seems a little difficult to place, then the clue is in the name. Korean designer Cho Hyung Suk’s elegant chair in walnut and ash that comes in either a black or white model is meant to be a bit of both. Combining the sleek lines of modernism with the traditional aesthetic curves of antique furniture, it’s an intended hybrid that adds up to a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
The overall effect of the chair and its accompanying table is an up-to-date take on retro styles. It’s practical and uncluttered but still offers the comfort of nostalgia in its ergonomic curves that spark memories of 1950’s or 1960’s classics.
Cho Hyung Suk’s design practice is based in Seoul and does not limit itself to furniture design. Lighting, furniture and large-scale outdoor works commissioned for public spaces all come under its remit and track record. And,indeed, both private clients and larger commercial clients – such as Guzzini- have commissioned works.
Working in a combination of industrial and high-quality traditional materials such as wood, Cho Hyung Suk has often shown an aptitude for using simple cut-out forms made in light blond woods that has an approach that we most frequently associate with Scandinavian design. The studio has produced numerous simple but effective hooks and hanging systems, shelving systems or elements of furniture in materials such as birch plywood. But, perhaps the best proof of its mastery of the material is the witty B-chain lamp, literally taking its design from the noble bicycle chain.
Although a traditional Asian aesthetic is most definitely present in many of Cho Hyung Suk’s designs, particularly in the use of wood, there is also something present in numerous designs highly reminiscent of great European design from the 1960’s. For example, the encircling design for a seating system for a Korean fast food chain is immediately reminiscent of Werner Panton’s famous seating frame and a number of the modular shelving systems have a certain 1960’s Space Age feel to their rounded-off geometric forms.