Johnny Kim & Benedikt Kellner
University of Stuttgart & Technical University of Munich
After a successful graduation of a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Stuttgart in 2018, with an award winning thesis, I established a visualisation studio together with my partner, Benedikt Kellner in Munich.
When I started studying architecture, I knew I wasn't interested in conventional architecture in the first place, but rather fascinated by the atmosphere of spaces I had to create and picture for the imaginary stories and scenarios in my head. I remember, as a child, I was always daydreaming, constantly imagining situations, scenes and moments, which I had to paint in the air to see them visually in my mind. The environment was always built depending on the content and purpose, and inversely the created space affected the story. And the atmosphere of the space, that was created by light and shadow had the most direct affect on us - people. But we know that architecture and human culture has always been mutually influencing each other. Which is the reason why I was constantly more and more attracted to the idea of taking responsibilities that go beyond the technical knowledge and particular competencies of an architect.
Johnny to start could you give us a brief introduction as to who april studios are and what you do?
We're an art collective, a group of people with shared ideologies and aesthetics.
We mainly create imagery of architecture, but we are also fascinated by other disciplines of visual art.
Why did you decide to study architecture?
Not sure, I was always interested in other artistic sectors, I spent my whole youth making music and drawing portraits, I was never a good student and I preferred learning things on my own.
After I graduated from high school, I just wanted to leave the country so badly, I joined my uncle at his interior design company in Taipei for about a year.
That was the first time I came in touch with architectural design and it was fun, but now I’m trying to understand things more in an academic way.
Where do you think that your passion for architectural visualisations has arisen from, and why did you decide to venture into digital art?
When I started studying architecture I had no clue about 3D-softwares, and well, I'm still not good at it, but I was always interested in visualizing conceptual ideas mostly with hand drawings or physical models.
I remember in third year we had a guest professor from London, Andy Groarke from Carmody Groarke, and we made Caruso St John style physical models in order to create super realistic images of the space we designed.
Through Andy I got to know Forbes Massie, who made me work at his studio shortly after that year.
Only after working at Forbes Massie Studio in London, I actually learned how to 3D-visualize properly, and that’s how it all began.
How did you find setting up your own business and what advice would you give fellow architecture students looking to follow in your footsteps?
To be honest, I never wanted this all to be a business, this sounds cliché, but I really just did what I liked to do the most.
For me setting up the company was easy because of my founding partner, Benedikt.
So my piece of advice: Know what you’re best in and find yourself a partner that can perfectly complement you.
You are also studying for your master’s degree whilst running April Studios how have you found balancing working whilst studying?
It is almost impossible, there’s no balance, every passionate architecture student would agree on this one.
I’m sure all of our readers will be keen to know, how do you produce such photorealistic images? Can you give us an insight into the software you use and your process?
There’s no secret, we use 3DsMax, Vray and Photoshop, as any other visualization studios.
And when it comes to photorealistic images, we are definitely not the best in the industry.
Has there been one stand out moment so far from your time working at April Studios?
The moment we moved to our new home. We refurbished the whole place ourselves, so it was quite an achievement for us.
Where do you see April Studios within the next 5 years?
It’s hard to predict the future, but we have new ideas. I just don’t like to plan things too far ahead.
Where do you see your future within the field of architecture? More toward working in practice of focusing on visualisations? Or perhaps both?
Definitely both. Many people told me it’s not gonna work, but I just love a challenge and hopefully I can prove them wrong.
If you could offer one piece of advice to those architecture students reading this interview what would it be?
Don’t listen to everything your tutors say and try to fail as much as possible during your study.
Where can people read more of your work?
We have a website april-studios.com and you can follow me on instagram, but this is probably the most extensive article about my work so far.
Finally, if you could go back in time and tell young Johnny who was just starting out in his architectural studies one thing, what would it be?
I don't feel old enough to answer that question. Ask future Johnny in 20 years again.