Fun nüf Design

“It’s fun spelled backwards,” nüf design’s Yeon Soo Son tells me when I ask about her firm’s name. It also has an umlaut, like a heavy-metal band, I point out, but it’s clear that Son and her fellow designers at nüf—Yoyo Wong, Kuni Jimbo, and Kaori Ito, all graduates of Parsons School of Design—are much more interested in light metal, namely aluminum.

Their Grid modular table system allows you to customize a table by putting together powder-coated aluminum pieces, all identical in size and shape (a square folded in half at the corners) except for an unfolded center piece. There are lots of different configurations, and four colors (off-white, beige, yellow, and red) so putting together the table is somewhat like putting together an Erector Set or a Tangram.

“We were interested in the concept of dimensions,” Son says. “We wanted to play with folded two-dimensional shapes.”

But what makes the table so interesting is that it’s more than the sum of its parts, and manages to be an inviting piece of furniture even though it doesn’t conceal its conceptual origins.

“People can be more attached to it because they give it their own character,” Son says. “But we don’t want them to have total freedom, otherwise the design won’t come through.”

Nüf has definitely managed that delicate balance of letting the consumer play with a design without changing it beyond recognition, and the result is, in a word, fun.

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