When we think of a designer’s studio, we often imagine the space to be a very private and discreet place. It seems only natural for designers to work in a quiet area, free of distractions, considering the high degree of delicacy and precision required for their work.
But there’s one design studio that is famous for having books piled high, unfinished sketches everywhere, and magazines scattered all about. On the second floor, there is a popular café and store. The site is called Atelier & Project, and it is the headquarters for the art directors (and siblings) Jieun Kim and Chanseok Kim, who manage a space packed with design and cultural elements. And in the middle of the inventive, colorful chaos, you’ll find a Serif TV.
Designers Introduce Their Studio
Atelier & Project opened in Seoul in 2006. This “open studio café,” where several designers in different fields work, caused a sensation from the start. Many café/studios have followed since then, but Atelier & Project was the first, and after 10 years, it has become a cultural landmark for many.
It was not easy for Jieun and Chanseok to open Atelier & Project, a cultural complex that combines a café, flower shop, and general design/decoration store. Running a business meant less time for their design work, plus plenty of distractions from overly curious visitors. Nevertheless, they pressed ahead, inspired by the thought of inspiring people and creating a community for those interested in design.
“We wanted to create a space where people could feel warmth and energy,” said Chanseok.
Because of their shop, the two designers sometimes offer design consulting for rookie designers who are just out of school. “I was lucky to receive a lot of help from many mentors while I was in school. That’s how I learned what I needed to do for what I am doing now”, said Jieun. “As a designer, I wanted to help others in the same way, and that’s why I decided to open Atelier & Project.”
Of course, running the studio isn’t just about giving to others. Being able to encounter a wide variety of ideas and designs, as well as people to share their ideas and talk with, helps both Kim siblings, too. Both Jieun and Chanseok say making connections with others is their biggest reward.
Creating a Space for Sincerity
Many people may not be familiar with what art directors do. There are different types of art directors, but in the broadest sense the job could be defined as “a person who creates stories, and organizes a space based on the story.” Jieun and Chanseok fill spaces in a way that can best serve their particular purposes, and sometime they consult clients further on how they might place certain graphics or display commercial products in the space. Their work is much more than just improving how a space looks, but is at its core about producing images associated with a particular brand.
They have a diverse range of clientele, including a luxury foreign garment brand, an eyewear shop, and a restaurant. Their most recent project was with Holics, a popular eyewear shop located not far from their studio. “They successfully emphasized the unique atmosphere of Holics with a nice blend of vintage furniture and a variety of décor,” said one visitor.
When asked about their secret to realizing their full abilities as art directors, they both responded with “sincerity.” They both said they have long believed that good outcomes can only happen when a person’s work is based on love for the space or the product. Sometimes they have even declined projects when the client did not show enough sincerity.
“If a space is owned by someone who does not have real affection toward it, there is a good chance that the project will fail no matter how good our advice might be. On the other hand, if you work with someone who truly cherishes the place, our work becomes much more interesting and the whole process goes a lot smoother as well,” explains Chanseok.
This is also the reason why they always invest enough time to understand the product or the space that they are going to work with. They believe that people can create outcomes that satisfy everyone only when they really love what they are working on. This idea resonates deeply with their core philosophy as art directors for their studio space.
Feeling ‘Warmth’ from a TV
Atelier & Project is a design studio and a café, but it is also used as a showroom that allows clients to feel that atmosphere of the space. For this reason, the Kims have paid attention to the smallest details of the space. The central concept of the space is “feelings,” designed to be a source of joy, inspiration, and sometimes even warmth.
Jieun and Chanseok decided to place a Serif TV in Atelier & Project after they realized it could actually exist in harmony with their philosophy about space. “When I first saw Serif TV at the Seoul Design Fair in the spring, I thought the person who designed it must be a warm person to have created such a product,” says Jieun. “Serif TV has a sophisticated look, yet it has a warm feeling to it.”
One thing that particularly impressed them about Serif TV was its unique design, solid like a piece of furniture. They felt that, because Serif TV lacks harsh edges, it had a soft look that perfectly matched with the image of Atelier & Project, where a premium is placed on warmth. Both Kims use Serif TV for quiet relaxation and as a presentation display during client meetings.
Jieun and Chanseok say they want Atelier & Project to be the kind of space that makes a positive influence on people by spreading positive energy and emotions through design. With Serif TV, we hope to help them achieve their goals.
* The content of this post are based on a sponsorship from Samsung Electronics.