Seoul, Republic of Korea | Wood: Hard maple
Taiho Shin is the founder of M. 0, a material-driven design company that develops new materials for designing products. After graduating with a MA in Design Products at the RCA in 2019, Shin started his own business in Korea. He had previously been working for Hyundai as a senior designer for 5 years. He believes that experiment-driven projects can contribute to shaping our future, and can lead to many innovative outcomes. On the basis of these beliefs, he created projects ranging from paper-based furniture to a service design for public transportation, receiving several prominent recognitions such as iF, Reddot and Blueprint awards.
‘Objects help human resilience through unusual situations.’
The design process
‘I wanted to give people their humanity back. We’ve been communicating on screens but we need touch. That was the thought I had when I saw the brief from AHEC,’ Shin says. ‘I thought it was time for designers to do something for the people who face this unusual situation because the pandemic has driven a dramatic change. I think we can help people become more stable or comfortable. It’s an opportunity for the industry to do something.’
The making of the final piece
The piece is based around a joint, made of a handful of components that essentially wedge the leg and the table top together without the need for glue. Importantly too, the product plays with consumers’ expectations of flat-pack furniture. ‘Normally DIY furniture is made with plywood or MDF, while hardwood is for crafted pieces. But I wanted to give the user more chances to touch and feel the real wood and making is a good way to do that I think,’ says Shin. When a number of the tables are stacked on top of one another – the top peg locating on the underside of the leg – they form a shelving system.
The end result
Shin created a low table, only 400mm high, that users are invited to assemble themselves. Ikare takes its cues from ‘the IKEA effect’, which was identified by a trio of academics – Michael I. Norton from Harvard Business School, Yale’s Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely of Duke – who published three studies in 2011, suggesting that consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they've partially created. ‘I just wanted to distort IKEA’s meaning,’ explains the Seoul-based designer. ‘Ikare about the earth; Ikare about the object; and Ikare about the people. My philosophy is encapsulated by that word.’