“We try to design with an understanding of what a material is capable of,” says John. Their Plug/Lamp is an extension cord wreathed with a simple metal shade and hook that users carry around and hang as they wish. Similarly low-tech but high-functioning, their Peg system—a series of modular, swappable legs and tabletops—offers building blocks for small spaces. The minimalist Flow kitchen relies on simple components that work together to support complex natural processes: Water from the drip-dry dish rack flows onto edible plants, while a built-in waste bowl tips food scraps into a worm-bin composter below, generating fertilizer used to feed the plants.
John’s nomadic life—he’s lived in Milwaukee, Mendocino, India, and Eindhoven—means he values portability and material economy. Likewise, living on three continents has given Wonhee an appreciation for the routine aspects of daily living. They also take cues from the present-tense appreciation of people, objects, and rituals inherent to the Japanese tea ceremony, which both study. “Simple objects offer flexibility of use,” John says. “There is a lot of busyness and complexity in life, so we try to make things that can do a lot but don’t say too much.”