SWNA Distills Korean Craft Through Fritz Hansen’s Sensibility

05.06.24 | By
SWNA Distills Korean Craft Through Fritz Hansen’s Sensibility

Last year marked 150 years of Fritz Hansen, which culminated in an exhibition, aptly named the Fritz Hansen Pavilion, showcasing the brand’s history at the Copenhagen-based 3daysofdesign. Like all good parties, the celebration spilled over into another year – and onto a different continent – with the Fritz Hansen 150th Anniversary Exhibition taking festivities to Seoul where a multitude of Korean artisans and designers were invited to interpret the brand’s beauty. Amongst the talents asked to participate was Sukwoo Lee, founder of SWNA studio and the creative mind behind two nature-inspired designs revolving around the theme, “Eternal Beauty.”

The first is the Drop Tray, a three-dimensional interpretation of changes in form shaped by intersecting and joining lines. The initial sketches of the object were mainly expressed as a 2D sculpture. Later, Lee was able to sculpt a more dynamic series of shapes through various experiments and prototypes. Through this process, three sizes of drop trays were finally designed: small, medium, and large.

Lee says CNC machining was required to realize the delicate fluidity of the curves and subtle changes across the bowls’ surfaces.

“Throughout the work I put into [the Drop Tray], I was filled with thoughts about the contrast between the organic curves and straight lines flowing through the beauty of nature, and the harmony that lies in between them,” explains Lee. “The inspiration for the form eventually came from the nature of Korea. Within the wooden trays of various shapes designed this way, the contrast of lines creates a strong gap in the form, which creates newness again.”

The Drop Tray is joined by the Drop Light, a similarly sculptural interpretation of the “Eternal Beauty” theme. Lee describes the nesting parabolic forms similarly to its bowl counterparts – a “three-dimensional interpretation of the changes in form created by intersecting and joining lines.”

The Drop Lights share the Drop Bowl’s fluid curves. The greatest challenge posed was nesting each lampshade design securely into a stable cylindrical base.

The Drop Light and Bowls are not the first time SWNA has explored utilizing the precision of CNC automated manufacturing, nor the incorporation of a wood cylindrical base and nature-inspired forms for lighting and storage. A decade prior, the design studio’s Chimney Light Series for Matter&Matter exhibited a similar spirit, alongside a more gently realized Leaf Tray series – both precedents and reflective of the studio’s experimental approach seeded by Korean culture and the natural world.

To learn more about SWNA or “Eternal Beauty” visit

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at