Graphic designer Na Kim has recently signed an exclusive contract with Kukje Gallery. Why did one of the nation’s leading  ne art galleries offer to work with a design-based artist? “Galleries are often commissioned by some corporations to build sculpture or installation works, and it seems a designer is more  exible than the artists in  ne art,” she said humbly. But she has much more than

that. Her world-class works have been invited to various exhibitions; ‘THE SHOW-ROOM’ with UUL art shop at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; solo exhibitions at Doosan Gallery both in Seoul and New York after winning the Doosan Artist Award in 2013; group exhibitions at Kukje Gallery. Clearly, the designer has been establishing herself as an artist for the last 5 years since she came back from her studies in the Netherlands. She majored in product design at KAIST and then graphic design at Hongik University, where she worked as an assistant to professor and renowned typographic designer Ahn Sang-soo. One of her most memorable experiences was Korean pavilion project at Venice Biennale of Architecture 2004 while Korean commissioner was the late architect Chung Gu-yon.

“We, students, had a meeting with the professor once in a week, which lasted a full year. Working was a signi cant experience to me, and those students are now actively working as architects and designers in many countries. We give each other a hand.” After carefully ‘exploring’ schools in Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands, Na Kim decided to go to Werkplaats Typogra e, Netherlands. As its name means a ‘typography workshop’, the school focuses on practical assignments and projects commissioned by clients instead of theory-centered programs. The 6 years in the Netherlands can be described as a time of ‘activities’ in the career rather than learning path. “My  rst challenge was to deviate from the rules and standards I

took for granted as a designer. I started to build up from scratch, thinking out of the box.” Visual images and elements associated with Na Kim are strongly impressive such as lines,  gures, colors and patterns. She wasn’t drawn to photographs or illustrations that could give concrete and speci c information. Na Kim borrows some frames from industrial products. “Certain shapes like circle or square have its own reason for being formed that way. Borrowing the existing frames and applying different rules helps me build my own layers. The bene ts of modernism are those advanced attitude

and mindset. Whatever the works is, it’s all about a series of choices. Be functional and rational.” After winning the Doosan Artist Award, she held a solo exhibition in New York in 2015. With the theme of the role of designers, she created a publication titled <SET>. “Book is a familiar medium, but

I wasn’t con dent in making a book so I asked a Belgian designer I was acquainted with during my studies in the Netherlands. It’s sort of a sample book. I removed original texts and rearranged them by categories. I enlarged the book to the wall size and displayed it in the hall so that viewers can feel like they read though a whole book after they make a round of the hall. How about painting murals instead of attaching sheets? It was quite a breath of fresh air.” The designer said she prefers working and making things work to being positioned somewhere in the context of art history.


Man Na Kim

Manna Kim is a feature director at HERITAGE MUINE.

Photo. Na Kim

She majored in Industrial Design at KAIST and worked as a graphic designer at Ahn Graphics Publishers. After recieving M.A. in Visual Communication Design at Hongik University, she obtained M.A. in Typography at Werkplaats Typografie, Netherlands. She worked in Am- sterdam while working as an editor and an art director for magazine <Graphic>.

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