This Former Lexus Engineer Designed a Highly Customizable Furniture System

04.13.18 | By
This Former Lexus Engineer Designed a Highly Customizable Furniture System

Whether due to the instability of fledgling careers, or the unexpected shuffle of salad day relationships, it’s not uncommon for young renters to call numerous addresses “home” in just the span of a few years. Designer Sejun Park cites his own personal struggles as a young urban denizen tasked with furnishing various sized and challenging interiors as the impetus for developing Aalo, an online modular furnishing system that elevates the act of DIY with its stylish simplicity and adaptability.

“As a city dweller I was moving between places quite often, which meant my space arrangements were frequently changing. Each time I struggled to find furniture items that would fit my new space perfectly, and there were no good options, “says Park, “Customized furniture were simply out of my budget, and trying to create a DIY solution required time, money, and special tools. I began experimenting with various materials, manufacturing processes, and assembly mechanisms to come up with an easier and more versatile furniture solution. And that’s how Aalo got started.”

Aalo operates more or less like the popular DIY solutions that use iron/PVC pipe fittings to piece together furniture. But instead of cheap plastic or heavy pipes, Aalo’s parts library is comprised of lightweight, yet strong powder coated aluminum beams designed to securely fit in combination with L-shaped, T-shaped, and Y-shaped connectors.

Because Aalo uses a small catalog of standardized parts, designs can be easily reconfigured, expanded, or decreased as desired.

While the patent-pending connectors are the secret sauce to Aalo’s endless array of configurations, the curved 90 Degree Connectors, Round End Caps, and Wall Mounting Connectors offer small, but notable touches of refinement. The result is furniture and accessories easily mistaken for offerings from the like of Hem or IKEA – functionally and aesthetically superior to anything one could piece together from Home Depot, yet more than reasonably affordable.

The system’s modular and adaptive nature reflects Park’s previous profession working as a mechanical engineer for Toyota and Lexus, where he helped develop manufacturing assembly lines for new vehicle launches across several North American plants.

Park superimposed efficiency and manufacturing solutions learned from his days in the automotive industry, applying them while formulating Aalo – specifically the revolutionary, just-in-time logistics manufacturing system known as the Toyota Production System. Concepts like the “elimination of Muda (waste)” and “Kaizen (continuous improvement)” offered the groundwork of Park’s furniture creation system.

By maximizing the use of common parts throughout our product line, we eliminate a lot of inefficiencies in manufacturing and logistics, while continuously expanding the applications of our modular system.

Park is already looking to extend Aalo beyond a catalog of preset designs and parts, envisioning the future launch of an online configurator and an accompanying community platform inviting creators to upload and sell their own designs using the standardized components however they imagine.

“Ultimately we want to provide furniture with an extended lifetime value, one more sustainable than other affordable furniture brands that have somewhat became synonymous with the term ‘disposable furniture’. If you’re moving and have no use for an Aalo piece any longer, you can disassemble it, then reuse the same pieces to build something entirely different.”

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at