American artist-designer Nina Cho was born in Palo Alto, California in 1989 and raised in South Korea. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Woodworking and Furniture Design at Hong Ik University in Seoul, graduating in 2013, before continuing on to a Master of Fine Arts in 3D Design at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which she completed in 2015. That same year, Cho founded her eponymous studio in Detroit. Immediately, the young designer began to gain recognition for her work; she was selected as one of the 5 Breakout Designers of 2015 by Artsy as well as being named Honoree of Sight Unseen’s 2015 American Design Hot List, which was presented in partnership with Herman Miller. Cho has also been a resident designer with Matter of Stuff in London.
Cho’s work is heavily influenced by traditional Korean aesthetics, particularly the attention given to emptiness as a design element and the importance of negative space. As the designer explains, “through practicing the beauty of the void, so to speak, I respect not only the object itself but also the negative space that an object creates.” In this sense, the spaces that are not designed become part of the piece. “An empty space poetically invites the air, users, surroundings, and the spirit of a space to complete the piece itself,” Cho continues. In the Felt & Coated Steel Curved Chair (2015), for example, the offset positioning of the geometric legs creates a series of different shapes in space as one moves around the piece. Cho also often works with polished and reflective surfaces to bring the environment surrounding the piece into the actual piece itself; case in point is the Minimalist Reflective Brass Corner Shelf (2015), which has the added surprise of actually extending around a corner along the wall.
Cho’s exhibition history is extensive; she has shown with Matter of Stuff during London Design Festival (2017), at Artbn Gallery in Seoul (2017), at the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt (2017), at the Cranbrook Art Museum (2017), at IMM Cologne (2016), Salone del Mobile, and New York City Design Week (2015), just to name a few. Cho continues to live and work in Detroit.