Walker Art Center

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Insights: Sulki and Min Choi (Sulki & Min), Seoul



When asked what their studio motto might be, designer/artists Sulki Choi and Min Choi replied, “Clarifying is our business, obscuring is our pleasure.” Indeed, this tension between fact and fiction, concrete communication and abstraction, reveals itself throughout their practice as the designers create what they call “impurely conceptual” work.

The married couple received their graduate degrees from the Yale School of Art, continued their research at the prestigious Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastrict in 2003, and then founded their design practice in Seoul, focusing primarily on the cultural sector. Some of their client-based projects include graphic identities for the BMW Guggenheim Lab, architecture firm Mass Studies, and the 2014 Gwangju Biennale; the guest art direction of Print Magazine’s 2012 “Trash” issue; and an extensive graphic system for the architecture exhibition Before/after.

Working in both Roman and Hangul alphabets, their intense approach to typography reveals a deep interest in language. Whether systematically inverting English oxymorons in a type specimen poster or dissecting the typographic relationship between Hangul vowels and Taoist yin-yang symbolism through a series of patterns, much of Sulki & Min’s work exerts an almost scientific approach to the use of words, reminding us that language is, in fact, the earliest and perhaps greatest “kit of parts” at a designer’s disposal.

In 2006 the duo founded Specter Press, a publishing imprint that presents monographs of Korean artists, Korean reprints of modernist design texts by authors such as Robin Kinross and Norman Potter, and even a book containing 30 issues of a Korean heavy metal music fanzine. Sulki & Min are also one half of the artist collective SMSM, which is an “applied-art collective devoted to health and happiness.”

Their work has been exhibited internationally at places such as Frankfurter Kunstverein, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, and the Walker. Min Choi also curated Typojanchi, which is a typographic biennial in Seoul, and both served as jury members for the Core77 2012 Design Awards. Sulki teaches design at the Kaywon School of Art & Design, and Min teaches at the University of Seoul.