Small versatile objects are often my favourites. I recently used a soban (small portable Korean table) as a desk, a dining table, a coffee table, and a nightstand…
Traditionally in Korea, a dining table could not be shared and the concept of irinilban (one table per person) was the standard. In the past, soban were mainly for dining or used as a desk by the literati for reading and writing. They were a common piece of furniture in the household where hosts would line up dozens of tables whenever they received guests.
Today the soban is rare but modernised versions can be found here and there: some very cheap with folding legs (resembling portable picnic tables) and others with more sophisticated contemporary designs. The authentic soban tables are made by master craftsmen and have become luxury items. Antiques can also be found at some markets and shops.
With many variations in its function and form, the soban can playfully be combined and re-invented in all sorts of ways.
#wayoflife #table #versatile #craft #design #soban #korea #culture #illustrated [captions]
(1 + 5) my own sketches based on a 5th century mural from the Three Kingdom period. (2) the table I used during my recent stay in Seoul. (3) archive image from the book “Dining Tables of Joseon” by Japanese scholar Asakawa Takumi in 1929. (4) works by a master craftsman from “Craft Narrative: the place, process, perspective” in 2016, MMCA Seoul. (6) industrial version (picnic table style) at a local market.