21g by Seungbin Yang
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Ott-chil is a type of Korean lacquer technique that is done by adding the secretions of the "Ott" tree, released as a protective response to wounds. Collecting this from the ott-tree is an intricate and difficult process that can be done only by experts. The lacquer produces incredibly durable finishes in most of the materials. It offers antibacterial effect and its color is very elegant. This is why it has long been treated as the very best material for tableware in Korea.
Nowadays, ott-chil craftsmanship is on the verge of dying out because many of the craftsmen who have traditionally made the ottchil are retiring, with no successors to take their place. This project is a form of tribute for the ott-chil craftsmen who poured their heart and soul into their work. So Yang met ott-chil craftsmen in Korea, and learned their skills in order to apply it to his work. Normally ott-chil is used on wooden products for finishing and protecting the surface. Because of the high price and value, traditional ott-chil has been used only for luxury furniture or utensil for rituals.
In his project, he applied ott-chil to papers to make a new material for tableware which has the strong points of ott-chil as follows: waterproof, durable, sterilized and eco-friendly. He also felt an interest in exploring the gap between luxury object and everyday object, heavy strong material and light weak material. He tried to follow the traditional way of applying lacquer, but at the same time wanted to suggest a new object, a new material and a new shape based on a new design adapted to modern living.
People could not easily imagine the weight and the texture of the tableware when they just look at the object. By touching and using it, he wanted people to feel and experience the luxury of ott-chil, the lightness and the usefulness of this tableware made by paper.