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The furniture designer Jay Sae Jung Oh turns discarded leather + mass manufactured objects into sustainable masterpieces.

Jay Sae Jung Oh’s message to the industry: it's time to get sustainable & turn material waste into something awesome.

Sustainable design masterpieces by Jay Sae Jung Oh

The South Korean designer changed the game with her Savage series pieces, showing everybody u can have the best of both worlds: artful unique furniture & sustainable production process.

She started out with plastic and jute, but for the Black Edition she added leather to the list, wrapping cowhide threads around every available surface – and giving extra longevity to her pieces – all put together by killer detailed handcrafting. Does it get any cooler than that? We don't think so.

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We chatted with Jay Sae Jung Oh and she told us all about her innovative style. Scroll down to check it out. 🪑

 In a few words, could you describe your work for someone who has never seen it? 

Low value discarded objects that are transformed into high-end handcrafted functional object/furniture.  

 How much time do you usually spend on a piece?

It really varies depending on the scale of work. For example, the full-size savage lounge chair can take up to 3 months to be completed. Different projects require new techniques and skilled handcraft processes.

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The Savage series started with plastic and jute. Why did you decide to try it in leather? And where has this idea come from? 

I usually choose natural materials that have a huge contrast from, indiscreetly mass-produced plastics to incorporate into the Savage series. That’s why I used natural fiber plants, jute, for the outer surface in the earlier exploration of my pieces. As leather is a firm and rigid material commonly used in furniture, I recently started to use it to increase the longevity of the objects.

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Is it also a sustainability-driven choice? How is sustainable manufacturing an important thing for your work? 

Yes, more than just a material choice, I wanted to send a message to change our perspective on sustainability through my work. 

Can you tell us a little bit more about this message you’d like to send through your work?

We are surrounded by so many objects nowadays, but it is in the human nature to seek something new all the time. I wish that through my work the audience can reconsider the ordinary and appreciate what we already have. Innovation and/or beauty, whatever you look for can be born of even the most mundane everyday objects. 

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Furniture made into art, art made into furniture: what’s the secret to masterly combine function and looks? We know you studied arts and then: * boom * , you got those amazing designs.

I studied Fine Arts but also studied Industrial Design (3D Design) at Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Michigan. Design and Art may seem to be similar from a creative standpoint, however, the more I experience both, the more I understand they are in totally different realms. It’s always been my biggest mission to find the perfect junction between art and design. Art has the freedom to express its own philosophy without any constraints and design has a bigger audience to communicate with and a much more familiar manner for solving problems. I cannot deny that I have learned ideologies and benefits from both and I try to apply these influences to my work.

 Can you walk us through your design process? 

I collect discarded plastic objects, assemble them together, and wrap them in a natural material. The objects are amalgamated from their original shape by concealing their origins and revealing new forms.

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Where do u see yourself professionally in 5 to 10 years?

Probably, I will keep focusing on my own practice, on both my furniture and my pet product company, Boo Oh. I'll be designing and crafting, sharing my work with more and more people and hope that I can make a difference in their lives with new perspectives. 

Keep ‘em coming, Jay.