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Announcing American Design Honors 2020: Nina Cho of Detroit, Michigan

Announcing American Design Honors 2020: Nina Cho of Detroit, Michigan

WantedDesign is excited to announce Detroit-based Nina Cho as the recipient of the 6th Annual American Design Honors, presented with Bernhardt Design.

Born in California and raised in Seoul, Korea, the artist and designer is heavily inspired by her heritage, prompting her to experiment with forms influenced by Eastern philosophy and techniques.

A graduate of Hongik University, Seoul and the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cho’s sedately colorful work spans sculptural blown glass figures, wall mirrors, investigations in planar structures and metals, as well as tables, chairs, and objects.

Layering Transparency, 2018, by Nina Cho

Launched in 2015, American Design Honors was created by WantedDesign co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat, and Jerry Helling, President and Creative Director of Bernhardt Design, to recognize up-and-coming American designers who embody excellence in creative design and superior entrepreneurial ability.

“Nina’s curiosity is born from conflicting worlds, juxtaposed,” says Jerry Helling, President and Creative Director of Bernhardt Design. “It is in the negative space between them that she has found her aesthetic. As a part of the creative community in Detroit, a city in constant evolution, Nina brings a new and refreshing perspective to American design.”

WantedDesign co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat with Jerry Helling and Nina Cho

A Korean phrase that translates to “It is modest but not humble, and impressive but not extravagant” represents a concept significant to Cho’s work and attitude to life.

I aspire to a sense of balance and elegance in both,” she says. “Without being pretentious or decorative, one can still make something impressive. For example, a geometric form can be transformed into one that is unexpected and unique with just a simple touch. I am detailed and meticulous about it – that touch must be executed with purpose and precision, and the form, material and color must cohesively connect in union.”

Maung Maung mirror by Nina Cho

Detroit, her current home city, has significantly influenced her work and its evolution. Her undergraduate degree was in furniture design, mainly in wood. Cho had never worked with metal before arriving at Cranbrook.

When I first moved to Detroit upon graduating, it was really hard to find where to source materials, including building materials for making models,” she explains. “Paper was all around me, though, so I started using paper to make quick models.”

“I became interested in the materiality of paper, and began thinking about what similar materials might bring the same characteristics to product scale. So I started using sheet metal. Detroit has great fabrication facilities, making it accessible to try out several different fabrication methods locally.”

Nina Cho in her Detroit studio

“Nina’s work is a beautiful representation of the diversity and originality of the American emerging design scene,” say WantedDesign co-founders Odile Hainaut and Claire Pijoulat. “In addition to her excellent design skills, she has a unique sensibility and personality. We love her integration of a very subtle color palette, and the ‘graphic’ approach she takes to her structural pieces.”

“She overall imposes a strong design voice in a very delicate and pure way, mixing curiosity and poetry, storytelling and precision. We are proud to present her with this 6th annual American Design Honors recognition.”

Alongside her existing collections, Cho will debut new pieces at WantedDesign Manhattan, and an original environmental design concept consistent with the visually impactful principles that shape her product design.



This program is supported by Bernhardt Design