American Design Hot List 2021
Born in Seoul but now based in Brooklyn and Queens, Minjae Kim cut his teeth working in the interiors and furniture studio of former ADHL honoree Giancarlo Valle. With Valle, Kim shares a certain sense of poetry, but in Kim’s hands, the meticulous craftsmanship and humorous forms are all infused with strains of his South Korean identity and upbringing. A summer show at Marta Gallery in Los Angeles cemented Kim as a force to be reckoned with.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
I’m actually quite uncertain if there is a clear definition of what American design is these days but perhaps this uncertainty in its identity is what allows the American design market to be so eclectic, allowing everyone to find their own pockets — which I find extremely comforting.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I’m planning on having a duo-show at Matter in April with Myoung Ae Lee, a South Korean painter who also happens to be my mother. This will be a nerve-wracking attempt to share a very personal story and also to bring my family into my professional life but concurrently an extremely introspective opportunity as I launch into a full year of solo practice.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
I think at the core of my work is the desire and need to connect, which applies broadly to the masters and contemporaries that I reference, the material that I use, and also my audience — which is why making work is often the most grounding experience for me. I suppose in that sense I’m always drawn to a certain animistic aspect to material practice and seeing more and more of that in my own work.