Through her work as an illustrator, animator and Virtual Reality artist, Nakyeng Hwang explores and tells stories which connect to our daily lives and imaginations. Hers is a visual language often punctuated with figurative elements, creatures, nature and abstracted shapes, all of which gently cuts across continents and creeds, generously encouraging viewers to form their own narratives and interpretations.
The 32-year-old super-talent initially studied Fashion Design in Seoul, before switching direction to instead focus on a career as a successful freelance illustrator. Her clients at the time included Seoul City Hall’s annual winter ice rink, Amore Pacific cosmetics, LG Household and Health, as well as various book publishers.
At the age of 28, Hwang packed up her paints and boldly headed for London—despite knowing no one in the city—having applied to and been offered a place on the MA Visual Communication course at the prestigious Royal College of Art. Here, she further developed her love of visual storytelling, adding a growing command of Virtual Reality techniques to her multi-media palette, while soaking up and being endlessly inspired by the Capital’s abundance of galleries, museums and libraries. At the RCA’s class of 2018 graduate exhibition, her innovative VR ‘spatial book’—an interactive, walk-through installation which brought together voices, sound effects and images—stood out from the rest, confirming her as a Name to Watch.
Shortly after completing her studies at the RCA, she was invited to collaborate on the visual identity and menu for The Standard, London’s in-house, open-all-day Isla restaurant, headed by the hotel’s executive chef Adam Rawson. Repeat visits to the restaurant, while it was still being constructed, as well as thorough research into the Isla ethos (not to mention enviable opportunities to sample Rawson’s finest fare courtesy of the chef himself), ensured Hwang could fully immerse herself within the project, which turned out to be a particularly upbeat, creative and sociable commission for her.
The foliage-filled interior of this exquisite eatery—which extends to the similarly-green outdoor terrace—and Rawson’s quest to focus on British coastal cuisine and natural wines, is now complimented by Hwang’s uniquely folksy-yet-modern aesthetic. Nothing is perfunctory, here. Every single detail has been fully considered. And diners’ appetites will, no doubt, be further whetted by a menu that looks like no other.
"Nakyeng was a perfect fit for the concept of Isla. We thought of English florals on a coast, natural and delicate forms and we were so magnetized by Nakyeng’s use of form and color in her world that is playful and imaginative—similar to shapes of florals on a grassy sand dune or maybe more abstractly what blood platelets in happy bodies would look like if illustrated—full of life," said Angela Dimayuga, Creative Director of food and culture at The Standard International.