Yesum Yoon

Yesum developed her “thinking hands” in Sweden and now has her own studio in Seoul

About three hours north of Gothenburg, you’ll find the very small municipality of Dals Långed. There you’ll find the school Steneby, home to some of the University of Gothenburg’s craft programmes. And this is where Yesum Yoon from Seoul, South Korea studied wood-oriented furniture design and metal art in 2018.

What have you done since leaving Steneby?
After the education in Sweden, I graduated from my university in Seoul with a double major in wood and metal. After that, I started a studio with my friends. Currently, I am working on my projects in my studio and preparing for an upcoming exhibition!

How would you say your time in Sweden has helped you?
With my undergraduate studies through craft-based education, I’ve been able to develop my visual language. We usually call it ‘thinking hands’. I can express my ideas freely, while understanding the materials in depth. I am also more aware of sustainability.

What made you go all the way to Sweden from Korea to study crafts and design?
While studying the history of furniture design, I read a chapter about ‘Scandinavian design’, which was also trending in South Korea. I got curious about what it really would look like and how this movement has been shaped in Sweden. I found the exchange programme at the University of Gothenburg and got the chance to experience it for real.

What was the best part? 
The relationship within the community. All the tutors, technicians, cleaners, and students who I shared the school with. People in Långed were very open-minded to newbies and gave us enough courage to play around in the workshop. For instance, I’d studied as a silversmith, not a blacksmith, before coming to Sweden. So for the first time I was in a huge blacksmithing workshop, and I wasn’t comfortable. However, I was quickly able to start my experiments with new techniques and collaborate with colleagues, all with different backgrounds and talents. My colleagues in the workshop were so passionate about their work and so friendly, which made for a great synergy in the group.     

How did you experience your time in Sweden?
I was like a bird that needs to hatch from an egg to fly. I had a great chance to open up my world and make my ideas grow with creativity. I had a great time developing my skills and understanding our differences in lifestyle and surroundings. Since living in a whole different culture isn’t the easiest thing, it was an intense experience. Intensity might sound stressful; however, I found it was a great opportunity to extend my study in design.

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This interview was conducted in 2020 and written by Cecilia Floris.