Brick Lane to Earls Court – a city of Korean Design

The Korea Design Pavilion at 100% Design London
The Korea Design Pavilion at 100% Design London

The Korea Design pavilion now seems to be an established feature of the 100% Design London exhibition at Earls Court. Each year we see a mixture of familiar design names and also some new faces. Beyond the official KIDP-sponsored pavilion (shown above) you can usually find some independent Korean designers who have either made their way from Korea for the event or who are currently based in London.

This year I only managed to find one such independent, the ceramicist Sena Gu. Her decorative milk jugs in the shape of a bird’s head was a delightful solution to the problem of how elegantly to pour milk into your coffee or tea.

Sena Gu: Hummingbird Jug (2011)
Sena Gu: Hummingbird Jug (2011) 120 x 87 x 65 mm (W x H x D) Porcelain, Gold Lustre

The high-gloss decorative version of a milk jug contrasted strongly with the solution offered by Soowa Craft on the official Korea Design stall: muted greys and blues in a more subdued finish. Soowa’s designs are aimed at the Gangnam restaurant scene, but would sell very well in Insadong.

Some of Soowa's ceramics from their "Iron" series
Some of Soowa’s ceramics from their “Iron” series

Elsewhere in the Korea Design pavilion there was plenty of other stylish products to admire. Kim Chaeyoung of CH Textiles had a range of fabrics and cushions made of British wool digitally printed with line drawings in a knit pattern.

CH Textile Collection: Knit - Unraveled Throw
CH Textile Collection: Knit – Unraveled Throw

Lighting and furniture was a frequent theme, with Korean paper and balsa wood providing the materials for one ultra lightweight chair.

Jung Myung-taek's stackable stools in solid wood
Jung Myung-taek’s stackable stools in solid wood

Across town at Tent London in the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane there were three Korean designers: London-based KAA member Soo-ji Shin was displaying her lampshades and chandeliers. Visiting from Korea were Jung Myung-taek and Kang Hyun-dae, whose square water-table with circular ripples caused by the falling water-droplets brought to mind the square lotus ponds in a Korean traditional garden – the square shape of the pond representing Earth with the circular island in the middle representing Heaven.

Kang Hyun-dae: Aqua Table (2011) 1200 x 1200 x 400cm. Water, Himax, Glass
Kang Hyun-dae: Aqua Table (2011) 1200 x 1200 x 400cm. Water, Himax, Glass

As in many other ways, China is following Korea in globalisation, and this was the first year I had noticed an officially sponsored stand from China at Earls Court. The exhibitors, from the City of Shenzhen, had hired an almost tennis-court sized space. But for the moment Korea has the edge in design talent.

The list of exhibitors at the Korea Design pavilion can be found here.

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