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Interior Design (MA)

Subin Seol

Subin Seol is a visionary furniture and interior designer based in London and Seoul, driven by a belief in the transformative power of design. She sees design as more than aesthetics and function; it is a medium for storytelling and narrative exploration.

Seol's design philosophy revolves around merging craftsmanship with narrative to create profound experiences and convey meaningful messages. With her experience as an independent designer, as well as her roles at Samsung as a brand experience designer and art director, Seol brings a unique perspective to her creations.

In 'Matter' platform, emphasizing 'Thinking through making', her current project 'Mortality Matters' is the result of her ultimate interests in craft and narrative, seamlessly blending functionality, aesthetics, and storytelling. Through her creative vision and dedication to narrative-driven craftsmanship, Seol strives to shape immersive environments that inspire, challenge, and leave a lasting impression on those who encounter them.

Recent Exhibitions, Awards, and Features:

  • Korea + Sweden Young Design Award (June 2023) - Grand Prize - 'Remembrance'
  • Alto University Exclusive Summer School (May 2023) - Selected as one of five representatives of RCA
  • Dezeen (April 2023) - Six key trends from Milan design week 2023
  • Royal Academy of Arts (Mar - May 2022) - 'John Hejduk: London Masque' - Her work, 'Pharmacokinetics'
  • Dezeen (Feb 2021) - 'Korean Art Deco'
  • Red Dot Design Award (Jul 2020) - Winner in Brand & Communication Design
  • IF Design Award (Sep 2018) - Winner in Interior & Architecture
Profile_Subin Seol

"Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it." - Haruki Murakami

"Mortality Matters" is a pioneering project designed to address the societal discomfort surrounding end-of-life discussions. Situated in the artistic hub of Woolwich, it intertwines the symbolic stages of pottery-making with reflections on life's journey, fostering an environment for open dialogue about mortality.

The concept resides within a five-story building where each floor mirrors a stage in the pottery-making process and human life cycle, from creation to culmination. The central Kiln Tower symbolizes the cycle of life and death, embodying the vital elements of both pottery and human life: water, air, and fire.

Participants engage in pottery-making and end-of-life planning discussions, crafting urns or legacy pots that represent their essence. This hands-on process serves as a tangible reminder of life's impermanence, prompting a more conscious and meaningful life experience.

The project also incorporates ceramics as architectural elements, with the building's design featuring modular 3D and narrative tiles, further emphasizing the passage of time and life's ephemeral nature.

"Mortality Matters" aims to reshape perceptions of death from a feared concept to an integral part of life, facilitating individuals to live more fulfilling, meaningful lives.

Death is taboo

Numerous studies reveal a widespread discomfort and aversion towards discussions about death and making end-of-life plans. Lack of advance directives indicates a widespread reluctance to think about death or dying, further substantiated by high levels of death anxiety and fear reported in surveys. Moreover, a significant discrepancy exists between the importance placed on communicating funeral wishes and the percentage of individuals who have actually done so. 

The discomfort and reluctance towards death and end-of-life conversations, reveal a societal gap that needs addressing. There is a need for a paradigm shift in the way society engages with the concept of mortality, transitioning from avoidance to acceptance and open conversation. It is within this context that "Mortality Matters" becomes an instrumental intervention.

About Discussing Death

Exploring Mortality

Extensive research was conducted to delve into the various aspects of death, considering cultural, religious, and temporal factors. The exploration encompassed diverse subjects, ranging from Vanitas still-life paintings, which aimed to awaken an awareness of mortality within the realm of everyday life, to the ancestral customs of Navajo Indians and the traditional Irish wake practices. Additionally, in-depth investigations were carried out by visiting different cemeteries in London to examine the elements, visual language, and materiality associated with these sacred grounds, thereby augmenting the understanding of death.

Among the manifold influences encountered, the genre of Vanitas still-life paintings had the most profound impact. Originating in the 17th century, Vanitas art sought to emphasize the ephemeral nature of existence and the inescapable reality of death. Artists adept in the Vanitas approach skillfully incorporated symbolic representations of mortality, such as skulls and decaying objects, serving as poignant reminders of life's transience. The evocative nature of this genre has significantly shaped the perspective on mortality and has been instrumental in refining personal reflections on the subject matter.

Death Research
Death Research

Urn of Transience: Functional Objects for Life and Death

Before the Mortality Matters project, I designed a totem called “Urn of Transience” as a tool for intensive exploration of the theme of death. Following the concept of "Thinking through making" from the Matter platform's curriculum, designing and creating this totem allowed me to clarify my thoughts and criteria regarding how I wanted to approach the topic of death. The project, which began with a behavioural analysis approach of "How can we make people contemplate death more naturally and less fearfully?" has formed the core content (urn making) of Mortality Matters, shaping the identity of the project.


This project offers a unique approach to the concept of urns. At its core is an hourglass-shaped urn, symbolising the transience of life. It goes beyond being a functional object and seamlessly integrates into your daily life as a piece of homeware, serving as a constant reminder of life's fleeting nature. The design has the potential to fulfill various roles, such as lamps, vases, fruit bowls, jars, and candle holders.

Each time this urn is used in daily life, it helps instill a clear perspective on life and death, empowering you to establish your priorities and cultivate gratitude for the world around you. Furthermore, your attitude towards death, as reflected through this urn, will continue to impact your family after you pass away. They will see and experience your perspective through the object that has become your urn. This project embodies a new way of thinking about death, bringing it closer to everyday life.

Illustration Scenario: "The Cycle of Life and Legacy"
Illustration Scenario: "The Cycle of Life and Legacy"
urn of transcience
urn with remai


Various, Product, Illustration



Blending Pottery-Making with End-of-Life Conversations

Within Mortality Matters, I facilitate two interconnected programs – the Pottery Workshop and the End-of-Life Planning Program. These initiatives form a symbiosis of sensory experience and end-of-life discussions, creating an atmosphere that is at once tactile and reflective.

The Pottery Workshop is not merely an exercise in creativity, but a journey into understanding the passage of time and the transformation of life, similar to the clay in our hands. Participants are guided to design and create their own urn or 'legacy pot'. These dual-purpose creations can function both as future vessels for remains and as everyday homeware, serving as gentle, physical reminders of life's transience. The act of manipulating clay offers therapeutic benefits, proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance a sense of calm.

Running in parallel, the End-of-Life Planning Program invites participants to confront, explore, and discuss the oft-avoided topic of death. It begins with an end-of-life survey, promoting open dialogue about perceptions, fears, and aspirations surrounding death and dying. The goal is to provide the knowledge and understanding needed for individuals to confront their mortality and engage in end-of-life planning.

The harmonious integration of these two programs forms the heart of Mortality Matters. It combines the tangible and therapeutic qualities of pottery with critical conversations about end-of-life, thereby creating a unique experience that encourages a healthier and more open engagement with the concept of mortality. This approach upholds professional standards in the fields of therapeutic art and psychology, aiming to contribute meaningfully to society's evolving relationship with death.

End-of-Life Survey and Urn Drawing
End-of-Life Survey and Urn Drawing
section and program
Material Palette
Material Palette

Ceramic Tiles

Focused on pottery and ceramics, Mortality Matters also explores the use of ceramics as interior and architectural materials, particularly ceramic tiles. Mortality Matters' ceramic tiles come in two varieties - 'Modular 3D tiles' for functional space design, and 'Narrative tiles' embodying the brand's story.

Modular 3D Tile
Modular 3D Tile
Modular 3D Tile
Modular 3D Tile
Main Entrance
Main Entrance
Main Hall
Ground Floor(Shaping)_Lobby
Ground Floor Plan

Kiln Tower

The Kiln Tower at Mortality Matters serves as a profound symbol of transformation, echoing the journey of clay as it evolves from its raw state to a finished pottery piece—a reflection of the cycle of life and death. Drawing inspiration from traditional wood-firing kilns, the tower embodies the fundamental elements essential to both human existence and the art of pottery—water, air, and fire.

Notably, the design incorporates a remarkable detail—the square holes on the floor of the kiln tower. These apertures serve a dual purpose, functioning as both sources of illumination and decorative elements. They pay homage to the language of ventilation systems found in traditional kilns, facilitating the optimal flow of air and heat.

Furthermore, the exterior of the Kiln Tower showcases Narrative tiles that feature captivating imagery, including hourglass and Kiln Tower motifs. These visual representations symbolise the passage of time, encapsulating the concept of transience. By arranging the narrative tiles in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, a distinctive pattern emerges, embodying the unique identity and recognisable brand of Mortality Matters.

Kiln Tower
Mortality Matters, media item 6
Mortality Matters, media item 7
Making Area
Ground Floor(Shaping)_Making Area
Carving area
First Floor(Trimming)_Carving Area
Second Floor(Drying)_Yoga & Meditation
Second Floor(Drying)_Yoga Room
2F_Drying_Yoga room
On the second floor, corresponding to the 'Drying' stage, participants engage in yoga and wellness practices, reflecting and accepting their mortality while waiting for the pottery they made to dry.
Third Floor(Glazing)_Glazing Room
Third Floor(Glazing)_Glazing Room
Fourth Floor Plan
Fourth Floor(Firing)_Kiln Room
Fourth Floor(Firing)_Kiln Room
Fourth Floor(Firing)_Rebirth Ceremony Space
Fourth Floor(Firing)_Rebirth Ceremony SpaceFiring. This transformative process irreversibly changes clay into ceramic, symbolizing death. During this stage, participants partake in a Rebirth Ceremony, observing the kiln and feeling the heat from the firing. It is a ritual ceremony to finish the whole journey and accept their mortality.


In conclusion, Mortality Matters offers a unique and transformative experience, combining the art of pottery-making with important conversations about death and end-of-life planning. The completion of urns or legacy pots not only represents a personal achievement but also serves as a lasting legacy of their journey at Mortality Matters. These objects, integrated into everyday life, serve as powerful reminders of the experiences and reflections gained during the program, prompting individuals to live more meaningful lives.

Mortality Matters aims to provide an opportunity for everyone to confront their mortality, fostering a deeper appreciation for the value of each moment. By embracing the reality of death, individuals are empowered to make conscious choices, live authentically, and cultivate a more purposeful existence.

In essence, Mortality Matters reminds us that death is an integral part of life itself. By engaging with our mortality, we can truly appreciate the richness and significance of our existence. Let us embrace the transformative power of Mortality Matters and embark on a journey towards a more profound and fulfilling life. Mortarlity matters.


“Remembrance" is a transformative design project by Korean furniture designer Subin Seol, aiming to immortalize architectural heritage lost through demolition. This unique collection is crafted using salvaged handrails from the now-demolished Fawley Power Station, a notable landmark celebrated for its distinctive Brutalist aesthetic. Once a symbol of regional pride, this cherished site is thoughtfully commemorated through functional design pieces, serving as physical reminders of the architectural legacy.

The collection, composed of a dining chair and coffee table, encapsulates the original aesthetic of the Fawley Power Station. Although the handrails represent just a fragment of the building, they embody its architectural DNA, making each piece a tangible link to the past. The irregular shapes and marks of the handrails are embraced as design features, showcasing the beauty of the building's raw Brutalist aesthetic and history.

Seol's project deviates from traditional methods of remembering demolished buildings, such as photography or videography. Instead, it offers a more intimate interaction with the architectural past through repurposed elements of the original building. This innovative preservation method redefines how we value and remember our architectural heritage.

Moreover, salvaging and repurposing materials underscores the importance of sustainable design. By breathing new life into discarded handrails, the project mitigates environmental impacts associated with new material production and prevents these elements from ending up as landfill waste.

Through this project, Seol echoes a resounding call for preservation and sustainability. Each piece from the "Remembrance" collection is more than just furniture—it's a unique narrative, a tribute to lost architectural heritage, and a catalyst for preserving it for future generations. This concept of material reincarnation posits a thoughtful, innovative solution for retaining our architectural history and preserving it for posterity.

Collaborated with Retrouvius

First presented at Fuorisalone 2023. All Rights Reserved by Subin Seol, 2023.

Remembrance_Coffee table
Remembrance_Coffee table
Documentary FilmVideo by Sunghoon Song