On February 25, 2018, the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, ended with 307 MEDALS awarded. Sukwoo Lee, founder of SWNA Studios, designed the medal in Korean 3D and packaged it in a delicate wooden box.
We can start with the history of the Korean designer. "I didn't know what I wanted to do as a child," he said. "I was just a boy who liked to play. In the drawing class in middle school, I drew a traditional Korean wine bottle, which was very interesting, so I began to make art seriously from then on. Actually, I want to study visual design rather than industrial design. So I majored in graphic design in college and worked in graphic design." But then he chose industrial design.
After graduating from Hongik University, he interned at Samsung Electronics. In 2006, Ms. Li moved to the United States, where she worked as an industrial designer for FuseProject in San Francisco and Teague in Seattle. He later became the global creative director and chief designer of Motorola's Headquarters in the US and the Design office in Korea.
When Ms. Lee returned to South Korea in 2011 on the rise, she decided to forgo her high salary and set up studio SWBK with Bongkyu Song, whom she met as an intern at Samsung Electronics. "We both designed in a similar way, so the decision to set up the studio hit it off," says Li. But less than five years later, their partnership ended with a change of heart.
To continue her design, Ms. Li set up SWNA on her own.
Previous experience makes Li Xiyu's design concept more mature and stable. Two years later, he was commissioned to design MEDALS for the Winter Olympics. Perhaps, Mr. Lee says, he designed the MEDALS with design values that the world could understand and accept: the preparation, the effort and patience of the athletes, and the culture and language of South Korea. "I thought that if the foundation of culture is language and writing, then writing is the seed of culture.
When Korean seeds are planted, the culture grows like a tree, and the stem is the process of bearing fruit. In this way, the planar Korean becomes a three-dimensional circle, which is cut into the 'seed of culture.'" During the process of designing the Olympic MEDALS, he discussed the design with the public in the hope of gaining public recognition. "It was all a new experience for me." Li regrets. The design of Olympic medals has brought him more clients looking for cooperation.
He realized that even if his design didn't have a specific style, he wanted companies looking to work with to know about his design before deciding whether to negotiate. "Because current products and services tend to be personalized and often involve multiple departments. If it's just for mass production, it's a mistake not to have a mass-market design."