Tell us all about Wooj
Wooj is my nickname; it is a short version of my Korean name (Woojin). I’ve been working under that name for a while, particularly in my design work.
I officially incorporated Wooj as my design studio last year at the beginning of the pandemic. I was, like many people, pretty depressed . I am currently in my last year of my graduate program; most of my classes are very practical and hands on. Everything immediately transitioned to fully online and we lost a lot of that tactility. I was, to put it mildly, “not feeling it”. I was looking for a project to put some time and energy into to pull me out of the state I was in.
What initially started as a small effort to replace a torn Noguchi lamp shade quickly morphed into a full fledged effort into designing a new lighting fixture from scratch. At the end of that process, I had the first version of the Wavy Lamp. I ended up getting some great feedback from Instagram which encouraged me to try to sell it.
To be honest, I thought I would sell maybe five to friends and family, but interest grew and it quickly expanded (something which still continues to amaze me)! I am incredibly grateful to my initial customers and to everyone that finds joy in a Wavy Lamp.
What are some of the sources of inspiration behind your pieces?
With regards to the Wavy Lamp, I was inspired in particular by the comb jellyfish, which is a variety of bioluminescent jellyfish which are gorgeous. I was also inspired pretty directly by the the Akari lamps (the design started as a project to fix a broken Akari lampshade and quickly expanded to designing an entire fixture)
How would you describe your creative process?
I tend to get an idea in my head, usually based around a process or a technique that I am interested in exploring. I will then manically approach it until I find something that I really like. Most of my designs are a combination of "designed" (by which I mean, sketching things, revising, sketching, etc) and some kind of programmatic or natural algorithm. The best way I can describe it is by looking at the Wavy Lamp. The shade is created using an algorithm that follows some naturally inspired rules, but the base itself is very traditionally designed and "rational".
Favorite museum or creative space?
I like hitting the Noguchi Museum and the Socrates Sculpture Garden on the same trip, then grabbing some arepas.
How did you figure out how to bring your idea to life?
I think the process basically consisted of me designing 30 things that I hated and then seeing the one that I loved. It emerged out of the messy process nearly complete, but of course there was a lot of angst prior to that happening.