We spoke with the designers behind the beautifully minimal, YUN Seoul in Seongsu.


The designers behind YUN Seoul.
YUN sat down to discuss Labotory’s latest project- YUN Seoul.

Could you tell us a bit about the starting point for YUN Seoul? 

YUN’s origin was important to us. Although the brand started in Berlin, the parent company, Opticom, was already 30 years old making lenses in Incheon. So, YUN’s root has already been in Korea for a long time. It seems to me that everything started with Jiyoon’s (Brand Creative Director) request to have a Korean element and mood in the store design.

We put most of our time thinking about “Korean style and mood” and tried to contain YUN’s identity in oriental minimalism, which combines mechanical exquisiteness and warmth, and embraces the heterogeneous feelings of the East and the West. In doing so, I took the nuances of Korean monochrome and white porcelain to grasp the concept of the overall Seoul store.

After a long period of preparation, YUN Seoul Store was completed. Share with us some details about the design. 

I want to talk about the store ceiling. The sense of space is often determined by the height of the ceiling. When we enter a very high cathedral, we are in awe. On the other hand, the same high ceiling, but when combined with other elements of the surroundings, we feel different – comfortable. 

In a traditional Hanok (Korean traditional type of architecture), the element that breaks down internal and external boundaries and induces a wow factor is ‘madang.’ We entered the house, but we feel an endless sky instead of a roof. You are inside the house but at the same time outside of the house.

In a way the concept of ‘madang’ is incorporated in the design. To enter the YUN store, you have to take the stairs from the low place. While doing this you naturally see the snowy ceiling that looked like a cloud and entered the hanok yard so that it felt like being in contact with the sky. With this design, when the user entered the space, I thought it would be nice to feel YUN first as a space before seeing the glasses.

In some ways, you said you wanted to add a dramatic element. What is the parameter of the word ‘dramatic’ to Labotory?

After all, being dramatic is the flow of emotion. The mood that can be created by lighting is really special.I think it’s our way of expressing dramatics with the mysteriously enveloping light. We do a lot of research on how to avoid direct light and express it subtly yet powerfully.
It is natural that users should be comfortable but it is important for us to make people feel different emotions when experiencing a space.

Other than lighting, the VMD of YUN Store’s shelves also gives dramatic effect. Rough materials on wall is compared with smooth acrylic materials. These texture difference is special too.

Where do you get your inspiration?

It does not come from nowhere. Everything I experience, learn, and study piled up on each project and leads to another ideas.
I am born curious person, I also like to observe. And I like thinking deep in general. I tend to dig into many things. When I was young, I had a lot of opportunities to go to Buyeo (historic site in Korea) and I don’t really want to go there as a kid at that time. However when I think about it now, those experiences are inherent and accumulated in me. My design is all of those everything.

Finishing materials play a very important role in the interior. You use different finishing materials for each project, but I think the mood of the Labotory is unified. Share your thoughts on textures?

Laboratory like to make use of the contrast with various textures. In YUN, we learned the language from Hanok. Looking at the elements that make up Hanok, the podium is a rough finish of granite, with wooden pillars. The floor is wood but the window right next to the floor is made out of paper. The tile on the roof is finely polished stone. These colors and textures are all different, but there is no dissimilarity and they blend together so well. I brought this to YUN, as they consider balance to be an important value. I wanted to express balance with rough and smooth finishes, colored materials, and white materials. 

Finally, what is your favorite spot in Seoul?

There’s no place I can say is the best yet. I have a desire to make such a space. But there is a place to go to cool my head, near Ichon tennis court under Banpo Bridge. I like to sit there and watch people go by and enjoy the river and everything.

And how do you stay balanced?

I can think of it in two ways: my personal life and my work life.

Labotory strives to respect and support the personalities and choices of all members of the team so that they can be balanced. All ideas are correct in some way and if they are harmoniously implemented, the result can be amazing. I think dealing with space is dealing with the five senses. I also care a lot about personal growth so I can become a director who can embrace various things and situation wisely.

When I think about the balance of my personal life, the average person will think that my life is not at all balanced. Currently, my life is 8 work and leisure 2, and that’s usually called unbalanced. But for me, this is the best state.

The rewards and accomplishments I get from doing what I want to do are great and I don’t want to miss this period. Of course I want to take a rest, I want to travel! But I am investing almost all of my life to what I do and I want to test my limitation.

I’ve been digging deeply into the design for about three years and I’ve worked as a freelancer before, but it’s very different now. The more you know, the more fun it gets. This joy holds up my life balance. And I do a lot of exercise.

I want to keep creating spaces that are inexplicably good and balanced.