“It’s important that we just don’t throw everything away all the time,” Ko Júbilo says. “Whether it’s an Apple Watch or a piece of furniture, there should be ways of forwarding that design further down the line.”
That philosophy underpins all of the Vancouver-based designer’s work, which spans interiors, furniture, lighting and other projects that let him develop objects that are special enough to be passed from one generation to the next.
One of Júbilo’s most ambitious endeavours took that ethos to the extreme. Over the course of four years, he painstakingly undertook a frame-off restoration of his father’s beloved 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia GT. He had no experience with automotive restoration, but worked evenings and weekends welding metal and sewing upholstery to bring the Giorgio Giugiaro designed coupe back to its original glory. “It was one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done,” Júbilo says. “But when you take something apart, that’s the best way to learn how things are made. And then when you put it back together, you learn even more.”
Júbilo graduated with a degree in industrial design from Emily Carr University and worked at Molo Design and London’s Barber & Osgerby before establishing his own studio in 2015. Since then, he has collected an impressive roster of clients, including influential West Coast fashion brands such as Wings + Horns and Roden Gray. His luxurious and minimal approach to lighting and furniture earned him a spot on the 2020 edition of Dwell 24, a list of the best up-and-coming designers selected by the American design magazine.
“The simplicity of his work really appeals to me,” Daniel Chmielewski, the co-founder of Vancouver fashion brand Haven, says. He commissioned Júbilo to create a modular display system for one of his retail stores. “It’s that whole Dieter Rams philosophy of not having anything extra that’s not functional. The aesthetic is based on the function.”
This aesthetic is apparent in a circular oak dining table featuring a trio of curved wooden legs and a rotating quartz centrepiece inset in the top. Balancing practicality and playfulness, every aspect of its design is considered with decades of use in mind. The same is true of another commission, an understated bed inspired by an exhibition of traditional Chinese and Japanese joinery he saw in Milan before lockdown. Made entirely of maple, Júbilo designed the bed frame to stand not just the test of time, but the rigours of moving house.
While different from his dad’s classic Giulia in every possible way, these designs are informed by the same process of stripping something down to its most basic elements and deciding what’s absolutely necessary. “It’s a very simple idea,” he says.