Yoon-Young Hur Beyond Tradition

``For the first time, I felt like work and life can be closely interwoven in a very physical and bodily sense. When working in New York and Seoul, due to the scale of the city, the gap between work and life feels much bigger. ``

Yoon-Young Hur is an architect and a ceramist based in Seoul and New York. Site and history are the foundations of her work; she moves back and forth between the two cities and explores cultural heritage through materiality and form. Ceramic projects inspired by elements from the U.S. and South Korea have been exhibited in Still House, NYC and Francis Gallery, UK.



Numeroventi: What is it that fascinate you the most about Korean culture?

Yoon-Young Hur: Historical Korean architecture, art and craft fascinate me because it is part of my identity that is both familiar and unfamiliar. I was born in Seoul, Korea but had spent most of my life in North America. Korea with its complex history of wars, economic hardships and triumphs and influences of the western culture, the definition of heritage is always put to question. In the recent years, I’ve taken the time and given conscious effort to study Korean traditional ceramics and develop my own readings of the past through making.

N: How did you decide to dedicate your career to ceramics?

Y.Y: It was not easy to let go of my previous career which was being a full-time architect for nearly 7 years in New York City. I still love Architecture and it influences my way of working and thinking but it became clear that I am a much happier and more creative person when I work directly with materials and express ideas with my own hands. For me, architecture, art and craft are closely interconnected so though I’m focused on ceramics as my main medium currently, I constantly imagine different materials and scales for potential future projects; the possibilities are infinite!

N: Has working in Florence and at Numeroventi influenced your working method?

Y.Y: I loved the fluidity between activities during my residency; the studio was just a few flights above where I slept and all the cultural destinations like museums, palazzos, and bridges were all within walking distance. In other words, for the first time, I felt like work and life can be closely interwoven in a very physical and bodily sense. When working in New York and Seoul, due to the scale of the city, the gap between work and life feels much bigger. This contrasting experiencing was definitely a unique one to have.
Specifically at Numeroventi, I was able to test out new ideas with existing architectural elements of Palazzo Galli Tassi; the fire place and the wall of the raw studio on the top floor, and the courtyard with an iconic renaissance stone sculpture. They all offered me new perspectives and will definitely influence my future projects as I want my work to be more site specific and cross-cultural. 

N: What is your relationship with Instagram?

Y.Y: In the beginning, I mostly posted my completed works but in the recent months, I have started to share more of my process images, works by others and travel photos. They are all part of my inspirations and influences so I try to stay open and honest as possible.

N: Lastly, what is your next project?

Y.Y: I have several projects starting with different creatives. I’m currently working on a custom light fixture for an interior designer in Seoul, sculptural pieces for a jewellery designer in LA and new vessel series for the Paris Design Week in September 2019. Such different clienteles and project scopes offer me new design challenges which I’m always excited to be taking on. They all adds new vocabularies to my practice and I’m always grateful to collaborate and work on special commissions that has a genuine relevance to the space and the people.

N: Tell us about the two head pieces you created at Numeroventi

Y.Y: It is called “Capa-Capo Vessel” which means head in feminine and masculine Italian. My diverse interests like the the renaissance painting of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino, the Estrucan protomes and Korean ceremonial vessels in a form of boat started to merge in this work. I try to collapse such disparate references to define a new contemporary meaning of our relationship with sculptural forms. It’s a beginning of a multiple series that I will continue to develop in New York City and Seoul. And I definitely wish to be back in Italy to be inspired again, further research and continue to make modern interpretations of the ancient.


Photos: Marina Denisova