Interviews - StudiokyssKenny Son puts a lot of effort and intimacy in the objects he designs and manufactures, hoping that their future owners will recognise and experience this as they place the pieces on their tables or desks. Having learned to master techniques that allow him to work with materials like brass, copper and concrete, Kenny launched Studiokyss in 2013, combining the small batch production of his designs and grouping his thoughts. We talked to Kenny about how this all came to be.
“..Simply put, it’s more about the balance of good design and good craftsmanship. In my mind, a work that can support both of them can live a very long time, whereas a work that is lacking one or the other is destined to be erased from our memories in the very near future.”You were born in South Korea and later moved to Australia. When did you move to Australia? Do you still have a connection with South Korea and does this influence your work?
I was born in South Korea in 1987 and moved to Australia in 1996. In terms of work, I’ve never made deliberate attempts to stay connected to my home country, but I think it comes naturally as it’s in my blood. For this reason, I call both Australia as Korea my home, and I grew up surrounded with everyday objects and shapes that belong to both cultures.
You have a Bachelor in Visual Arts, majoring in Metal & Object, and in 2013 you’ve completed your Masters in Design, majoring in Object & Accessories. Looking at where you are now, this looks like the perfect combination. How do you look back upon these periods?
Thinking back now, they were indeed a perfect combination to shape who I am today. I remember spending my bachelors years just producing work without too much thought into how it would be part of this world once I was finished with it. Being in an art school, I thought the only solution was to have exhibitions and have my work sit behind a glassed display.
However, I was always interested in my work associating and interacting with the people and I wanted to find ways of developing a method in achieving this. I felt quite confident in how materials behaved and how I was to achieve a certain shape or form but I didn’t know what to do with the completed works. My masters course was a near perfect answer to my problems and questions.
I founds ways to transform a design into a small batch production and learned to group my thoughts, visuals, identity and the actual work into a single item that would eventually become ‘Studiokyss’.
Did you start Studiokyss before or after the 6 months metal craft mentorship program in Korea?
I started Studiokyss in 2012, as I was finishing my masters course. I was lucky enough to be noticed in the very early stages of Studiokyss and this became my main form of work as soon as I graduated. The mentorship program followed not long after graduating.
What are the most valuable skills or techniques you learned during this mentorship from designated metal craft master ‘Sung-joon Cho’? Do you still apply them?
During that program, I’ve learned a wide range of traditional metal craft techniques and spent every day during that 6 month period mastering them. But if I had to pick just one of the many things I’ve learned from this experience, it would have to be patience. There were days I would spend the whole 9 hour day in the workshop trying to master just one technique. The resulting final outcome is the detail of the design. It’s all about the detail. In my opinion, it’s the details that make or break a design.
”..It’s all about the detail. In my opinion, it’s the details that make or break a design.”Once you’ve stated that your goal is to ‘create work that has life’; objects that add significance and value to everyday environments. Do you think that the materials used are relevant to this? For example, you now use a lot of materials like metal or concrete, which are sourced from nature, giving them more ‘life’ than plastic?
My objective to ‘create work with life’ has very little to do with the materials I use. Simply put, it’s more about the balance of good design and good craftsmanship. In my mind, a work that can support both of them can live a very long time, whereas a work that is lacking one or the other is destined to be erased from our memories in the very near future. This is the very reason why we have so many ‘disregarded’ objects in this world, because the fact is that there are very few people who can do both things very well.
What are your sources of inspiration?
My everyday encounters and surroundings always inspire me, be it nature or just an ordinary day. Whenever I get some time off work, I try my best to travel. Work related or not, I believe very much in traveling. It really does great things for your mind and work ethic. Recently, I did the Great Ocean Drive in Melbourne. I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time and every single mile was worth it. Rejuvenation and motivation are two of the things this trip has given me.
Thank you so much Kenny.
Learn more about Studiokyss and the current collection at the Studiokyss collection page.
Interview & Text: Tico Oudhuis & Robin Jansen