Way Home: Soonyoung Yoon's Bridge

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The first human-made bridges were probably logs stretched over streams for easy crossing. Sounds simple, but the causal cognition required to manipulate nature for our benefit signifies an important leap in human evolution. More complex bridges, like Rama’s Bridge linking southern India to Sri Lanka 1.7 million years ago, had huge implications for migration, economies, politics, and even religion.

Bridges have now become iconic, synonymous with their cities: the Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco, the Tower Bridge is London, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is a symbol of its city. Before her departure from New York back to her home city of Seoul, it’s no wonder designer Soonyoung Anna Yoon thought of the city's trademark bridges when she came to design Way Home.

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Way Home is an elegant chair based on the ideas of connection and flow associated with bridges. A fan of finished wood beams, it evokes the reliable, supportive structure you expect from a bridge, something steady and unassailable, yet integrated with its surroundings, augmenting rather than detracting from a city’s beauty.

The two structural types - bridges and chairs - are both often part of people’s daily lives, from home to their commute to work and back. The notion of support, especially in the humdrum droll of a nine-to-five, is a powerful factor in our subconscious. Yoon says, “The act of creating the chair and completion of it was what supported me [during] a hard time emotionally.”

Also integrated into the idea of place – and the design of bridges – is nature. In recent decades, as we lose more and more of our natural world to urbanization, designers increasingly bring elements of nature inside with us. Way Home is no exception, inspired in part by branches and sand patterns. The natural wood and flow unite with industrial straight edges to synthesize engineering and the natural world.

“My chair acts as a bridge between myself and several places, including New York and places that aren’t Seoul,” Yoon says. “It’s also a bridge between me and other people. When I first made the chair, it was a bridge between me and life.”

That’s the most powerful connotation of a bridge: connectedness and crossing over, making progress towards a destination. For Yoon, Way Home continues to link her to people as well as places. “It is thanks to this chair that you and I are talking,” she points out. “In that sense, I am really grateful.”

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