In South Korea, Triangle Studios is a one-man design powerhouse

We talk to the Seoul-based graphic design studio’s founder Kisung Jang on 15 years in the industry.

Date
16 November 2021

The design studio of Triangle first caught our attention for its beautiful blend of typography, shape, and colour. Already a major presence in the South Korean design scene, Triangle’s arms extend around the world, with clients in multiple countries. At the helm is Kisung Jang, and whilst he leads an incredibly successful design studio, it may be comforting to those reading that Kisung came to the studio much later in his career. “I didn’t major in design, I actually majored in animation,” he says of where his career trajectory was originally heading. “But, whilst I was making my portfolio book for graduation, I became fascinated by making the book itself.” It was true love from there, and immediately after graduation Kisung went on to work as a freelance designer. “And then after about six years, I felt the need for a studio to expand my work,” Kisung tells us. Now, it’s been nine years, and Triangle is operating as strong as ever.

So where does Triangle’s distinctive visual styles come from? Kisung says it’s largely down to the imagery of his childhood. “When I was young, I liked painting and comics and drew pictures,” he recalls. “So now I concentrate on borrowing pictorial works naturally or creating a context for the story, just like when I was young.” Kisung’s process is a fascinating insight into how a successful solo design studio can be entirely operated from the creative spirit of just one person. “I find an expression that only I can access and make a point of contact with the client,” he says. “Then I prioritise finding the essence and purpose of the work over personal messages.”

GalleryTriangle-Studio: Sansooin Brand Design (Copyright © Sansooin, 2021)

Kisung’s process is broken down further into more miniature, thorough stages. “Given a project, I first think of words that could connote this task or client,” he explains. “Words make up sentences, and sentences help you imagine images. The priority is to create a context in which words-sentences-images are connected.” In practicing design this way, Kisung doesn’t deliberately look for reference materials for the project, but instead allows himself to be reminded about memories he’s experienced and seen. From that, he builds a concept. “I tend to remember well what I saw, read, and heard,” he adds. “Of course, lots of cigarettes and less sleep are essential.”

Recently, Triangle worked on the identity of a wine restaurant. “The name of the restaurant is Sansuin, which means 'mountain, water, people' in Korean,” Kisung says. “From the beginning, the client had a great understanding of my work and a lot of trust, and it was a project with a high degree of freedom in my work.” The resulting work is unique, with Triangle putting a fresh spin on wine restaurant aesthetics with an elevated contemporary geometric design. “Thanks to them, I was able to work in an interesting style the way I wanted to, and in the end, the client was satisfied with the result and gladly accepted it.” It’s a perfect example of a designer given ample trust and authority to take control and produce results far exceeding the client’s expectations. “I think that the more authority and trust a designer is given, the more novel and better the work is,” Kisung explains.

Now, to find out what’s next for him, Kisung is looking back. “Working as a graphic designer for about 15 years, I lived with an emphasis on studio and work,” he says. “Thanks to this, I got a lot of work and got to where I am today, but my health has deteriorated a lot, so in the future, I want to prioritize personal stability and peace with the studio. Wouldn't it work better then? Good health to everyone!”

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Triangle-Studio: Studio ChaCha Identity Design (Copyright © Design Press, 2020)

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Triangle-Studio: Hongik univ. Textile Art & Fashion design graduation Exhibition (Copyright © Design Press, 2021)

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Triangle-Studio: Visum Brand Design (Copyright © Design Press, 2020)

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Triangle-Studio: Visum Brand Design (Copyright © Design Press, 2020)

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Triangle-Studio: Visum Brand Design (Copyright © Design Press, 2020)

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Triangle-Studio: Oh! Creator x SWNA (Copyright © Design Press, 2018)

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Triangle-Studio: Oh! Creator x SWNA (Copyright © Design Press, 2018)

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Triangle-Studio: Studio ChaCha (Copyright © Sansooin, 2020)

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Triangle-Studio: Hongik univ. Textile Art & Fashion design graduation Exhibition (Copyright © Design Press, 2020)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in May 2020 after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

jl@itsnicethat.com

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