After studying industrial design at Pratt, Pat Kim apprenticed with a cabinetmaker. “That’s where I developed my reverence for wood,” says the Brooklyn-based designer. Then Rapha, a London-based cycling clothing company expanding to the U.S., hired Kim to help build a pop-up store.
That project gave Kim the resources to start his own studio, part of a collaborative workspace where 15 woodworkers share and learn from each other. “I’m surrounded by knowledgeable people,” he says. “Everyone has a special expertise.”
Kim’s expertise is turning, which is why DWR approached him to design a sculptural side table. “I was used to working in a smaller scale, so this project was a challenge. It was nice to be pushed a bit and to figure out how to turn a side table of this size.”
Rather than sketching or designing in CAD, Kim prefers to make tiny models on the lathe. “I can make these as fast as sketching, and when I’m done you have something real. I made hundreds of these models until we decided on five shapes.” As for Shape E, with the hole through the middle, Kim says the inspiration came from woodpecker holes in trees. “The shapes are so refined and beautiful that they look man-made, but they’re just functional for the birds,” he says.
A self-described “wood hoarder,” Kim is constantly experimenting with scraps. “A living thing had to die to make this lumber available, so it’s really hard for me to just throw scraps away.” After Kim turned the original prototypes in Brooklyn, he worked closely with DWR to choose the right factory to produce the tables. “We had samples made all over the world, and this factory in Poland was by far the best. I’m really happy with the results. They’re spot on.”