New Design Brand "True to Type" Manifests in Minimalism

Creating stripped-back design that feels warm and personable isn’t an easy balance to strike. But it’s exactly what True To Type is on a mission to achieve. We find out more from founder Jinsik Kim.

Design 
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Given that he has been working independently since 2011, it is an interesting moment for Seoul-based Jinsik Kim to launch his own brand. “Around 2019, I started pondering questions about my beliefs in design values amidst the deluge of social media,” he says. A conversation in 2020 with friend Julie Kim led them to think about creating a furniture company with empathy. Three years later, they have arrived at “True to Type”, which was inaugurated inside a traditional hanok in Seoul’s residential Bukchon Village, coinciding with Seoul Design 23.

This first collection of mirrors, side tables, chairs, screens and small accessories made in wood and metal have a simple aesthetic – a notable move away from Kim’s sculptural style. Craftsmanship and tactility are at the heart of the line, which is made up of eight pieces, “wood and metal are materials that humans are intimately close to in their daily lives,” Kim says, adding that it was intentional to include raw finishes and exposed joints throughout the collection.

“Wood and metal are materials that humans are intimately close to in their daily lives”

True to Type was revealed last month, inside a private Hanok designed by architect Hwang Doojin. The space transported Kim back to memories of his childhood: “it is an architecturally significant building steeped in the humble and unadorned aesthetics of Korea’s past,” he says. It provided a warm backdrop for the contemporary pieces – settled as if artworks across the space, framed by wooden beams, tiled roofs, and natural greenery.

“I have a keen interest in anthropology, humanities, history, and the traces of human existence,” says Kim about inspirations behind the collection “I believe that these imprints are embedded in our DNA.”

The details in the collection include the metal t-shaped frame sandwiched between wood in the ‘Upright Chair’ to ‘Chiaro’ – a screen that’s perforated pattern plays with light and shadow. Its name is derived from the art term Chiaroscuro, which represents the contrast between light and dark. Meanwhile, the necklace-shaped mirrors add curves to the range, made of highly reflected stainless steel.

“I aimed to elegantly express our philosophy about sensibilities and emotions in line with the cultural context of 2022,” Kim says of the choice of brand name ‘True to Type.’ He looked at other brands that had familiar words, like A Cold Wall, Acne Studios, and Gentle Monster, and wanted to reflect the vision of simplicity, humanity and craft. This extends beyond the furniture, to the custom typeface that was created in a collaboration with designer Yoon Mingo. Kim says, “in the future, we plan to introduce scholarly content in the form of modern visuals through books. I like to call this publishing project ‘Visualizing the Intellect.’”


This interview took place during Seoul Design 2023. See our full event report here.

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