Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 8 September 2020
Hanji is a new brand of traditional Korean papers from KCDF created to, not just inspire interest in both professionals and the general public nationally and internationally, but to also serve as a symbol of the craft inherent to the paper making workshops. And further, to promote the paper’s potential and excellence internationally. Hanji began as a basic paper, a material to contain writings and paintings, often finished with a final seal. This is where Studio fnt found their inspiration, recognising a commonality between these seals and the logos used today, both as gestures of “existence and intent”, as the studio neatly put it. That more than one seal belonged to a single individual, cast with unique meanings, provided them with the foundation for a visual identity system. Hanji thus became a person, with a series of imagined seals to unify the brand and tell its story.
“The visual elements are based on ‘uneven, flexible lines’ that embody the ingredients, production process, and final form of Hanji. This line is a motif found in the body movements of Hanji makers, fibers of mulberry paper, the daintiness of the un-cut natural edges, or the impressions of the seals. In addition to this, the logo design is completed in a light and elegant script form, with the intention for the project to continue and develop Hanji’s traditional heritage in the current era. These lines also work as a graphic device that depicts Hanji materials that are from nature, and its eternal flow of time.” – Studio fnt
The work creates and assembles, with great ease and range, a graphic language of stamps and lines, traditional and contemporary aesthetic sensitivities, and weaves together style and meaning. Materiality is a central and critical component and the interface of stamp on paper, be it inked or foiled becomes a proud and thoughtful gesture rooted in a history of paper use and cultural production. That the seals also inform and narrativise the Hanji story, graphically, with type and motif lends the work an elegance and communicative usefulness.
A cultural understanding is helpful in grasping the nuances of the work, however, international audiences are likely to “feel” the Hanji character in the multi-sensory fashioning and construction of guide and sample books (paper, binding and finishing), the design of the exhibition (surface and structure, performance and ceremony) and the interior architecture of the Hanji Culture and Industry Center (movement, light and shadow, volume and void). Collectively these act as generators of “atmosphere”. Earth, wind and water, as alluded to in colour palette grounds the work in the earth, the raw material, and whose textures are revealed in the surface of the paper itself. More work by Studio fnt on BP&O.