British industrial designer Jasper Morrison is largely unknown to the wider public, but within his field he is a superstar. He earned his fame with designs that strive for pragmatism within the simplest forms.
He took in charge of furniture design when the Tate Modern in London was being built, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York has three of Morrison's works in its collection. He has also worked with trendsetting companies like Swiss furniture company Vitra, and designed homeware for Italy's Alessi and Japan's Muji.
After seeing a kettle designed by Morrison at a fair in 2004, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee lamented that Samsung was unable to make such well-designed products. This led to a collaboration with Morrison on mobile phones and a refrigerator.
Recently, Morrison was in Korea for the launch of the Raami tableware series he designed for Finnish company Iittala.
"Life is very short, but we all have a choice" that can make it beautiful or not, he told the Chosun Ilbo. "That's not a question of money. We can find things which are cheap enough but bring beauty to life. So designers should be involved in that," he said. "The role of a good designer is make things better. If what you design is not better than what is already there, it's just another thing."
His designs are driven by the motto "super normal," suggesting that normal things can be special in a deluge of flamboyant tat. This "special normalcy" only reveals itself over time.
"One aspect of 'super normal,' I think, is obviously subjective, but not completely subjective," he said. "From my point of view, a just normal object is one which, after five years, you don't think about. You don't have any emotional attachment."
Morrison also stresses the importance of atmosphere. The Raami series uses different materials such as ceramic, wood, and glass, and designs vary a little bit depending on the material.
"I just realized because, for example, in your national folk museum in Seoul, which is near to the palace, there are many objects, very old objects, which are kind of 'super normal,' so there is human instinct to make objects which are good for purpose... bring good atmosphere and good function," he said.
Morrison added the age of having a big matching dinner set on the table is over, so he tried to create a natural and relaxed atmosphere in the latest collection, as if you collected each plate or bowl bit by bit.