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Maybe I'm outing myself as Luddite here, but the concept of 3D printing has always been a big old question mark for me. The ability to create virtually any shape out of any material feels like the sort of only-in-the-movies gambit you might find in Mission: Impossible (those face masks!), not anywhere in the real world. Yet incredulous as I might be, the 3D printer is alive and well, and being put to use in fields as diverse as architecture, manufacturing and medicine.
And, just as significantly, home decor. Wooj Design has taken this cutting-edge capability and run with it, making complex, organic forms that defy traditional geometry. Across products as diverse as lamps, clocks and knife racks, Wooj offers an array of gorgeously ethereal designs that feel futuristic but still warm and inviting. So however bizarre and daunting 3D printing may have sounded to me in the past, once I got a glimpse of the brand’s product line, I was officially hooked – and ready to order some of my own.
After all, if we listened to the skeptics, we'd still be using the printing press.
A NOVEL APPROACH
Unlike other furniture makers, Wooj founder Sean Kim didn't have a long history of working with his hands. He cut his teeth in computer programming instead, until total immersion in all things digital left him craving contact with the physical world again. Woodworking became the gateway hobby, as it were, but Kim's hunger to push boundaries led him to Pratt's grad program in industrial design. There, his newfound passion for sculpture and form found a perfect overlap with his technological know-how… in, you guessed it, the 3D printer.
What we know now as Wooj actually started as a class project, a hypothetical Kickstarter that Kim eventually took live to huge success. The brand’s flagship Wavy Lamp (pictured above; on sale for $105) flew off the shelves, quickly dominating Insta feeds at a pace that fledgling business owner Kim struggled to keep up with at first. Wooj initially operated out of his closet, a testament to the space-saving that 3D printing can offer as opposed to traditional manufacturing.
The savings extend to the company’s price point, too. For such bespoke products, Wooj's prices are virtually unheard of, a very intentional antidote to the rising cost of every other boutique luxury brand. In Kim's words, he and the brand are transparently "anti-opulence," and that accessibility has been as instrumental to their success as their stunning aesthetics.
Speaking of aesthetics, wait 'til you see this lineup.
10s ACROSS THE BOARD
I've already sung the praises of the Wavy Lamp, whose undulating curves are improbably made from corn of all things (which, it turns out, is a very sustainable bioplastic). For a twist on the classic, Wooj also offers the Wavy Pendant Lamp (on sale for $120), the same iconic shape but designed to be hung from the ceiling. Each lamp comes equipped with an on-off switch, extra-long cable and wall and ceiling mounts that are also 3D printed, natch. No need to break out your drill gun; this one's made for an easy install.
For those that wouldn't mind a little extra character – or an extra discount, for that matter – Wooj also sells Wavy Lamps with minor blemishes at a reduced price of $80. As a company that prioritizes sustainability, Wooj is embracing savvy solutions to address printing errors instead of consigning slight mistakes to a landfill. That same novel approach led the brand to also market its distorted lamps ($190), or discarded products that have been heated up and reconfigured in a style similar to glassblowing.
The new kid on the block, though, is the Pleat Lamp ($180): a stunning evolution of the brand’s concept which introduces a thrilling use of color. Available in Amber and Emerald, the flowing pleats that make up both shade and base are modeled off of clothing textiles. "Imagine: sun streaming through breeze-swayed garments on a clothesline," Wooj’s website invites us, "the graceful gesture of a dancer’s skirt as they twirl." Made of polyethelene recycled from the medical industry rather than corn, this lamp was a no-brainer when it came time for me to order my first Wooj piece. I'm now the proud owner of an Amber Pleat showstopper, which casts gorgeously golden light throughout my living space and instantly draws the eye with its sense of whimsy.
Cups and Vases
With the wildly popular knife rack and turbine clock currently sold out, the rest of Wooj's ever-changing collection currently consists of two lovely containers. The first is the Wavy Cup ($45), a not-too-thin, not-too-thick companion for hot and cold liquids alike. Unlike the brand’s other products, this one has roots in old-school pottery, as each cup is handmade slip cast porcelain. Still, the mold was designed with the usual 3D technology and utilizes the same curves that have become cohesive across Wooj’s entire product line.
They pop up again in the Duna Vessel, the final offering that's currently in stock, a regal vase that comes in small, medium and large sizes. Inspired by ripples in a sand dune, it's another ceramic offshoot that lends itself beautifully to all kinds of florals. For fresh flowers, you can use the borosilicate glass tube inside to ensure a watertight seal, or you can remove it to let dried flowers hang out on their own. Either way, the Duna is the perfectly monochromatic supporting player for your greenery.
Considering Wooj was only founded in 2020 – that's right, two years ago the brand was still closet-bound – this is one brand we're proud to be catching on the ground floor. Already on their fourth collection, Kim and his team of human (and robot) designers are constantly rethinking home decor to bring innovation and charm to the realm of the everyday. We're beyond stoked to watch the brand-new Pleat Lamp share the Wavy's spotlight, and even more thrilled to see what else is in store for this intrepid band of boundary-pushers. They've even made a 3D printing evangelist out of little old me.
5 MORE REASONS TO GET WOOJ-ING
1. If you're craving even more 21st century embellishment, rest assured that each Wooj lamp is LED smart bulb compatible.
2. Each product that you order will be totally unique to you, given the inherent micro-variations in color and texture that comes along with 3D printing.
3. The brand sells replacement shades and bases for $30 each, meaning you can stock up on all the different color bases your heart desires.
4. Because 3D printing is additive – meaning material is layered on top of itself to create the final product – there are no scraps or leftover materials. Another point on the sustainability front.
5. The brand’s Instagram is full of fun behind-the-scenes peeks at its totally unique manufacturing process, including this look at making the upcoming Pleat lamp.