Bae Se Hwa's steam-bent walnut furniture goes on show in New York
Steam 20 bench and Steam 12 lounge chair Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series and R & Company

Bae Se Hwa's sinuous Steam Bent Series goes on show in New York

South Korean designer Bae Se Hwa steam bent hundreds of slender walnut slices to create the sinuous chairs, benches and desks that feature in this exhibition at New York gallery R & Company.

Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series features two benches, three lounge chairs and a desk shaped with steam bending – a technique that uses steam's heat and moisture to make wood pliable enough to shape.

Steam 25 lounge chair Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series and R & Company
R & Company's Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series features seven pieces of sinuous, steam-bent walnut furniture

First designed with a geometric diagram, Se Hwa's works are hand-crafted from thin strips of dark walnut.

The designer warms slices in the steam box and then bends each individually over a structured frame, so they gradually vary in shape to form the sinuous designs.

Steam 12 lounge chair in Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series and R & Company
Among Se Hwa's collection is a series of lounge chairs, including Steam 12, which feature curved nooks for sitting

Due to this rigorous, time-consuming process, Se Hwa typically produces two to three of his steam-bent creations per year. R & Company selected seven "iconic" designs produced between 2010 to 2019 for its exhibit, which shows them all together for the first time.

"Se Hwa's exhibition at R & Company has been years in the making," said R & Company co-founder Evan Snyderman in a project statement."Each piece is a celebration of beauty and craft."

Steam 20 bench in Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series and R & Company
Steam's heat and moisture makes the individual wooden slices pliable for shaping

For Steam Bent Series lounge chairs, Se Hwa has curved the wood to form curved nooks and backs for comfortably sitting down.

Designs are differentiated by their bases, with the Steam 25 chair curving inwards underneath and the Steam 15 version extending to form a bench.

Steam 10 bench in Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series and R & Company
The Steam 10 bench, meanwhile, is detailed with a long dip

Similar to the design of the chairs, the Steam 20 bench has a wavy profile that marks two seats, while Steam 10 bench features a more gentle dip in the middle.

A more intricate design for the Steam 18 desk involves a series of rounded structures that overlap and fold over one another.

Steam 18 desk in Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series and R & Company
The designer's collection also includes the Steam 18 desk

Se Hwa, who solely focuses on steam bending in his Seoul studio, is among a number of designers that have experimented with the technique to shape wooden furniture and homeware.

Others include Israeli designer Bar Gantz who created twisted mirror frames and shelves and Dutch designer Ineke Hans, who designed a steam-bent conference chair.

Steam 18 desk in Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series and R & Company
The desk comprises slatted structures that fold over a wooden counter

Bae Se Hwa Steam Bent Series is on view from 19 March to May 11 2019 at R & Company's 64 White Street gallery – a 19th-century building recently overhauled by Thai architect Kulapat Yantrasast.

The exhibit follows the gallery's presentation of works by artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz, which included a crystal chandelier tangled with 100 colourful stuffed birds and an unfurling wooden cabinet.