Keyn goes to Seoul

This group of meeting and side chairs gets a warm welcome in South Korea’s capital city, as co-designer Joohee Lee of forpeople offers insights into its design story

Herman Miller launched the Keyn chair in Seoul on 14 March 2017, to great acclaim. The launch event was held at a café called Zagmachi in Seongsu-dong, and not only was it an opportunity to see and celebrate this new, movement-driven task chair, but it was also a chance to gain insights from one of the minds behind the chair’s design.

Joohee Lee, associate director at forpeople, the London-based design firm that created the Keyn chair, spoke to two different audiences at Zagmachi on that evening in March. First, he spoke to design students about his work and the projects he is involved in, including the Keyn chair. He then spoke to designers, dealers and other industry professionals about the thinking behind the Keyn chair.

The chair’s design was born out of a research project forpeople undertook for Herman Miller on the future of the workplace. Among their discoveries was the realisation that people move constantly, and this informed the design for a group of meeting and side chairs that became Keyn.

In response to this, forpeople created Keyn’s patented CradleFlex system, which reacts as you shift your position. Thanks to CradleFlex, the chair effortlessly reclines up to 10 degrees while simultaneously allowing the seat to move forward.

Every version of the chair retains the same visual appeal – something forpeople achieved by conceiving a common cradle and seat shell, which can be combined with one of three base options and three upholstery options: seat pad only, semi-upholstered, or fully-upholstered.

Joohee collaborated with forpeople’s founder, Richard Stevens, on the design for Keyn, which he started work on as soon as he joined the design studio in 2012. Indeed, the Keyn group of chairs was his first project for forpeople.

A Seoul native, Joohee’s presence at the South Korea launch was a fitting one. He studied furniture design at Hongik University before getting his MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art in London. Before joining forpeople, Joohee worked at Samsung Design Europe as a senior designer, part of a team establishing Samsung as a global leader in consumer electronics across mobile devices, digital camera, audio visual equipment and home appliances. His work has won many awards; he’s received accolades from the iF Design Award, Good Design Award Japan, Red Dot Design Award, and his work has also received gold at the IDEA Awards.