“We build a variety of visual languages while maintaining focus”: Ore-Oh on how simplicity is key
The Seoul-based graphic design studio talks us through why it “thinks of Hangul is a great means to distinctively represent Korean graphic design.”
- Jyni Ong
- 24 January 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Based in Seoul, graphic design studio Ore-Oh is a testament to the meaning of its name. “‘Ore’ means ‘for a long time’ in Korea,” the studio’s co-founder Gye-hyeon Park tells It’s Nice That. “So ‘Ore-Oh’ means to enjoy working, sustainably.” Founded in February 2016, four friends and ongoing collaborators from university – Min-kyung Kang, Ga-young Kim, Gye-hyeon Park and Ye-seul Jeong – set up the studio in the Korean capital where it continues to deliver vibrant designs through print and typography for the cultural sector.
“Typography has been a sincere attraction to us ever since we were undergraduates,” explains Gye-hyeon. The four co-founders found all manner of creative opportunities in the design of Hangul, the Korean alphabet, due to its underlying pictorial formations. Approaching the symbol-based alphabet as an image rather than a piece of text, the four designers developed a unique approach to type design very early on, and as a result, this went onto inform a different kind of approach to graphic design, too. “We think of Hangul as a great means to distinctively represent Korean graphic design,” continues Gye-hyeon. “And we experimented vigorously with different typefaces which became the basis of our current practice.”
Though it goes without saying that the four individual designers have their own tastes and preferences, when it comes to the collective vision of Ore-Oh, Min-kyung, Ga-young, Gye-hyeon and Ye-seul follow the same thought processes. In principal the studio sticks to a set of core rules, the primary one being “to physically enlarge the message [it] wants to deliver.” In the words of Gye-hyeon: “Our visual language is very simple,” and though that doesn’t seem the case aesthetically, as seen through the strikingly busy visuals, for Ore-Oh, it is the simplicity of the message that allows them to then build elaborate visuals.
“Simplicity leads to a chunky visual configuration that results in our signature liberating tone and manner,” continues Gye-hyeon. “We like to build a variety of visual languages while maintaining focus: highlighting type when type is a priority and displaying graphics beautifully when graphics need to be emphasised.” This is exemplified through the studio’s design for the Blind Poster Exhibition which took place in the latter half of last year. Ore-Oh was paired up with a Korean literary figure to create a poster based on the text, but with images only. The result is an experimental poster, deconstructing elements of Hangul to be expressed as “flexible curves” and so that “the letters can be seen as an image before being read as text.”
Ore-Oh looks to its surroundings for inspiration and soaks up all manner of art forms from photography to writing. At Ore-Oh’s core, the co-founders find themselves most heavily influenced by each other and their in-depth discussions. “Sometimes we face disagreement,” adds Gye-hyeon, “but in the end, we are each other’s best aides and competition.”
In this vein, the four graphic designers want to challenge themselves by working on projects beyond the traditional domain of the discipline. Recently, the studio collaborated with a surface design artist on designing thermo-compressed, silkscreen printed graphics for a range of projects. And in turn, the co-founders gained further insight into the more hands-on ways of making, involving themselves in every step of the process from creating a product from scratch.
“We enjoy challenging ourselves in different fields,” Gye-hyeon goes on to say. Constantly obtaining new ideas by communicating and collaborating with a variety of disciplinarians, looking to the future, the studio is hoping to expand into more 3D work. Currently collaborating with the Korean band 이날치, the studio has art directed the visuals for 11 new songs, due to be released soon. “We will never stop challenging ourselves with new fields,” ends Gye-hyeon, “and, hopefully, we can grow our business overseas as well.”
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.