Drawn to Walk In The Park for their sensibility to material, their work is homage to the variations of wood available in New Zealand. This tactile devotion extends into their desire to create products that are both beautiful and functional, blending the organic with the domestic. Walk In The Park is a pleasure to use, to hold and to simply admire. Sculptural and exquisitely produced, each piece is quiet in detail, yet brilliant in form.
We visit the couple behind Walk In The Park, Sam and Jiho, at their quiet and secluded Titirangi studio, and discover how the surrounding Waitakere bush informs their designs and lifestyle.
Sam, you studied furniture design and have a great love for well-made pieces, what are some artists, designers or pieces that are a beacon for you and your own work?
I travelled to a lot of other countries when I was a university student as I thought there must be something that I cannot learn from texts and printed images only. I wanted to see and experience all of the iconic designs in real life. During that time, I was hugely inspired by European modernist designers Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier and Jean Prouve. All their colours, textures, lines, scale and ways of thinking about their creations were concepts I hadn’t seen or imagined. This experience gave me room to think about the relevance between form and function. However, if I were to choose one my favourite designers, I would choose Alvar Aalto, the Scandinavian modernist. The shapes and lines of his works are mostly curved and soft, which are all derived from nature. Unlike the Bauhaus modernist designers, I felt his work could be sculptural while also doing their own function perfectly.
I think most of my work begins from the idea that I can create functional and sculptural objects. I believe this kind of design makes something more enjoyable for both designer and customer.
Jiho, you compliment Sam's wood work with beautiful imagery that celebrates the tactility of his work. What are some of your favourite pieces that Sam has ever made?
A lot of the works Sam makes are art pieces, but he still designs them with function in mind, too.
When designing an object in order to be functional, this can create limitations in other areas, and he isn't always able to express the ideas he wants to show in his work.
Whereas when he is making the hanging sculptures, he is able to explore his various ideas and find out something new by observing an object or phenomenon in detail, and connecting these different concepts and observations together in a piece.
We sometimes collaborate on pieces, and Sam brings my drawings to life with beautiful combinations of timbers. I love to see him make hanging sculptures, they never come out how I imagined.
In your studio space, and home, what are some textures that you love to have around, for both function and aesthetic joy.
Both Jiho and I have been collecting plants since we started Walk In The Park as they can be used for our photo shoot or an accompaniment to our packaging. So at the moment our tiny house is dotted with so many dried flowers and drift woods. We love the crispy texture, dramatic shape and beautifully faded colours of dried plants, and they are matched well with our warm white walls and oatmeal colour carpet. Also, we have a lot of wooden objects that are from my one off experiments.
Can you tell us about some of the recent places you have sourced your wood from?
I remember the last storm in Auckland was pretty strong. A huge number of homes were without power, roads were closed and so many beautiful trees fell down. It is sad story, but I was suddenly able to get so many beautiful timbers for free, although they will need a few seasons to dry out. I am really looking forward to working with them some day.
Do you practice any family/cultural traditions at home?
These days we cook a lot of Korean food at home as we were told from a naturopath that we need to avoid wheat and dairy products. There is still a lot of wheat related foods in Korean cuisine, but there are also numerous delicious rice-based foods. A basic Korean staple diet consists of steamed rice, soup and a few side dishes, cold and hot, including Kim chi that can be eaten with plain rice.
What do you enjoy about living in Titirangi?
It is really a treasure to live in Titirangi, nestled amongst the beautiful bush on the West Coast. Our house sits in a very quiet area where it is surrounded by native trees and birds. I can only hear sounds by nature like the wind, rain and birds singing when I am at home. Sometimes it is so quiet with no rain or wind, and I can hear only the sounds that I make. I think I quite like this stillness and this helps me to develop a lot of ideas without any disturbances.
This environment has given me the most stable feeling since we moved to New Zealand.
Below are the exquisite mobiles avalible in store or via email inquire. Email email@example.com for prices and availability.
Shop all Walk In The Park, here.
Words and photography by Yasmine Ganley.