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Nina Cho’s New Mirror Series Asks You to Contemplate Infinity, NBD

“Even though a mirror is two-dimensional, it feels three-dimensional to me,” explains Detroit-based designer Nina Cho, who has been putting reflective surfaces at the center of her work since her debut collection back in 2015. For her latest exhibition, developed by Colony Consult, Cho created a series of geometric, two- and three-toned mirrors called Maung Maung.
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Nina Cho

Detroit, ninacho.com Fresh out of Cranbrook, this South Korean–born designer’s first furniture line plays with negative space and architectural influences. What is American design to you, and what excites you about it? Having lived in the U.S. for the past three years, I’m excited about the diversity of American design. What strikes me is that there are no conservative criteria or limitations in the discussion that surrounds design; everyone is open to accepting a new perspective. This gives me the freedom to explore new ideas — the work reflects a whole American experience without losing my own cultural identity. What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year? This is a year of big changes. I finished my graduate studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art, and I’m now challenging myself with a new environment as I prepare to stay and work in Detroit. Detroit’s really interesting, yet also so unfamiliar. This is my first year as an official studio. I’m really excited to present my work in different places and to keep close with viewers and users internationally. What inspires your work in general? My approach to design is mostly intuitive and varies from project to project but I would say that my biggest inspiration comes from my own personal background. Though I was born in the U.S., I was raised in Korea. I believe it has naturally led me to a minimal and simplified aesthetic. The aesthetic of emptiness is traditional to Korean art. In painting, the unpainted portion of the surface is as important as the portion that is painted; it’s about respecting the emptiness as much as the object. Through practicing the beauty of the void, I respect not only the object itself but also the negative space left by it. An empty space poetically invites the air, users, surroundings, and spirit into itself. I pursue ideas of lightness and reduction in my work. Color, shape, and material must be essential to the piece and complete the work.
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Nina Cho, Furniture Designer

“One of the most important ideas in traditional Korean architecture and art is the aesthetic of emptiness — practicing the beauty of the void,” Nina Cho explains to me over the phone from her studio in Detroit, where she recently set up camp after graduating from Cranbrook. “In painting, the unpainted portion is as important as the portion that was painted; it’s about respecting the emptiness as much as the object.” Cho should know; she was born in the States but grew up in Seoul, and as a child she would often visit traditional Korean architecture sites. But little did she know the impact those visits would have on her future career.
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Free City is located at 1139 N Highland Ave, Hollywood, California.

Nina Garduno, Owner of Sweatpants To The Stars Brand Free City

To a certain kind of customer, it makes sense to drop half a grand on a Proenza Schouler necklace made from climbing rope or a hundred bucks on a T-shirt by Comme des Garçons: You’re paying for the craftsmanship of a couture brand and you’re buying the cachet of a label that normally retails for several times those amounts. But what of a sweatshirt — created by someone with no design training, no seasonal runway presentation, and no global retail empire — that sells for $198? That’s the conundrum that faced former Ron Herman buyer Nina Garduno when she started Free City more than a decade ago.
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Week of July 27, 2020

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: an unsung ceramicist gets his due at David Kordansky, Cold Picnic releases American Gigolo-inspired rugs, and ZZ Driggs makes the case for never buying furniture again.
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28 Designers to Know From This Year’s Sight Unseen OFFSITE

In this year’s edition of OFFSITE Selects, the works on view were international in scope and wildly varying in scale, from a chubby-legged, rusty velvet chaise by newcomer Jessica Herrera of Oôd Studio to six tiny marble vessels by Chile’s Rodrigo Bravo (both got quickly scooped up by gallerists or other in-the-know design people).
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These Four Designers Have One (Very Important) Thing in Common

Their disciplines may be wildly diverse — elaborate rope vessels, hand-woven textiles, minimalist furniture made from stone and metal, maximalist furniture made from aluminum foil — but there's one thing Doug Johnston, Begum Cana Ozgur, Nina Cho, and Chris Schanck all have in common, and we asked them all to talk about it.
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Week of February 1, 2016

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week is all about shapes: geometric tables and artworks, a shelf adorned with a wooden squiggle that looks like a break in the space-time continuum, a series of angular Brutalist teapots, and the epic Vignelli-esque, Toogood-esque Moser tray pictured above.
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2015, Part I

This week we announced the 2015 American Design Hot List, Sight Unseen’s unapologetically subjective annual editorial award for the 20 names to know now in American design, presented in partnership with Herman Miller. We’re devoting an entire week to interviews with this year’s honorees — get to know the first four Hot List designers here.
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Our 2015 Honorees

Today we announce the honorees of our third annual American Design Hot List — an unapologetically subjective editorial award for the 20 names to know now in American design, presented in partnership with Herman Miller.
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Week of February 9, 2015

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week, the humble accent table takes on many forms: an iridescent I-beam, a rug-wrapped hexagon, and a charred-wood square with a hairy interior void.
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