Based on the design talent at Goldsmiths, the future of Korea at 100% Design London is in safe hands

by Philip Gowman on 25 September, 2012

in 100% Design London, Design, Event reports and reviews, Exhibition reviews and comment, Kim Been, Tent London

The 2012 Korea Design pavilion at Earls Court

The 2012 Korea Design pavilion at Earls Court

One of the regular features in the London calendar is the London Design Festival, which this year ran from 14-23 September. Two big exhibitions form the cornerstones of the festival, at opposite ends of the Circle Line: 100% Design London at Earl’s Court, and Tent London at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. And given Korea’s emergence as a design nation (Seoul was World Design City in 2010), and also given the large number of Korean art and design students in London, it’s hardly surprising that there’s a strong Korean representation at both exhibitions.

LKL’s post from 13 September contained all the details of the exhibitors in the official country pavilion sponsored by the Korea Institute of Design Promotion. But as usual, there are Korean designers who exhibit at this show who are independent of the pavilion. This year there was The Haki, beeeen company and JiB Design Studio.

Memo Clock by The Haki (image courtesy of The Haki)

Memo Clock by The Haki (image courtesy of The Haki)

The Haki (www.thehaki.com), a company based in Gangnam, were exhibiting a range of paper-based products including an assortment of photo frames. Their stand-out design was a clock for your desk with space for notes which could be made with a wipeable marker pen. The product won them an honourable mention in the Red Dot design awards in 2009.

Je-Uk Kim and his Credenza O and Console O designs

Je-Uk Kim and his Credenza O and Console O designs

Je-Uk Kim of JIB Design Studio (www.jibds.com) was one of the designers picked out by The Observer in their feature on this year’s London Design Festival. Collaborating with ceramicist Sun Kim he has created a rather beautiful sideboard which doubles as a planter.

Been Kim

Been Kim with her hanji creations and her rice-straw chair

Been Kim, founder of Beeeen & Company (www.beeeen.com) was the final independent Korean designer at Earls Court. On display at her stall were some beautifully crafted hanji objects – dancheong-inspired wall decorations and brooches, and interesting slipper-like desk tidies or planters. Hanji is a versatile material, but I never thought you could make soap out of it. But the resin from the trees from which hanji is made also gives a masculine eucalyptus-like scent to some hand-made soap that Kim had for sale. Also on show from Beeeen & Company were their practical DrinKlip, and across town at the Super Brands exhibition at Tent London, their chair made of rice straw. I was assured by the designer that it was supremely comfortable, but we were not allowed to try it out.

Back at the main Korea Design pavilion there were some established designers as well as some selected by the KIDP as “Next Generation Design Leaders”. Among the latter were:

  • Kwon Seonyoung, who was exhibiting her range of soft furnishings and clothing based on cut felt, which looked very homely and comforting;
Kwon Seonyeong models her felt shawl / cardigan alongside her stall

Kwon Seonyeong models her felt shawl / cardigan alongside her stall

  • Roh Ilhoon (www.ilhoon.com), who brings Gaudi-inspired architecture into his organically-shaped tables, made by stretching fabric into the desired shape before sealing it with plastics;
Ilhoon ROH poses beside one of his tables

Ilhoon ROH poses beside one of his tables

Hat-shaped lampshades by Mars Hwasung YOO

Hat-shaped lampshades by Mars Hwasung YOO

Dressed-Up furniture from Jaekyoung Kim of Kam Kam

Dressed-Up furniture from Jaekyoung Kim of Kam Kam


and

  • Kiseung Lee (www.leekiseung.com), based in Helsinki, who brings pale Scandinavian colours to his lampshades which are cut out of a single piece of plywood.
Lampshades made out of a single piece of plywood by Studio Inbetween / Kiseung LEE

Lampshades made out of a single piece of plywood by Studio Inbetween / Kiseung LEE

Some of these Next Generation Design Leaders also had exhibition space across town at Tent London in the Truman Brewery. Other Korean exhibitors were

  • Rabito (www.heyrabito.com), whose cutesy mobile phone accessories are more designed for the Asian market

Mobile phone and other accessories from Rabito (image courtesy Rabito Co Ltd)

Mobile phone and other accessories from Rabito (image courtesy Rabito Co Ltd)


and

  • HoosDesign (www.hoosdesign.com), who produce some fun clocks and some soothing children’s nightlights, but whose unfortunately-named Nipple needs a better strapline and a problem to solve.
Views of the HoosDesign stall at Tent London

Views of the HoosDesign stall at Tent London

But most encouraging of all, the Korean design students at Goldsmiths (www.i-kdm.net) had taken over a stall together.

Korean design students from Goldsmiths College exhibit at Tent London

Korean design students from Goldsmiths College exhibit at Tent London

There was almost too much to look at here, and I certainly didn’t have time to do justice to all twelve design projects. Refreshingly, as I walked past the various booths, I thought to myself: “Yes, that’s a good idea. I actually want one of those.” Which sadly I did not find myself thinking at some of the other stalls I had seen throughout the day. I’m sorry not to be able to mention all of the projects, but the ones that really caught my eye were a stylish set of tea infusers based on the carved wooden birds you sometimes see in Korean folk museums, and three ideas particularly suited to the British summer: a cap which folds out into a waterproof poncho; some easy-to-pocket waterproof overshoes nicely named the Splash Spat – they would have been handy at the Thames Festival this year – as would the picnicking bag of London: a waterproof picnic mat which folds up, pojagi-style, into a handy bag, the lining of which is printed with a map of Central London parks together with relevant bus routes. Practical and imaginative.

The Transform Raincap, the Picnicking bag of London, the Splash Spat and the Sot Dae infuser

Clockwise from top left: the Transform Raincap from Hyejin Gho, Hyesu Kim, Narae Park and Yeonwook Choi; the Picnicking bag of London, from Hyeoneung Song, Jieun Kim and Chaerin Han; the Splash Spat from Shinhye Park, Jihyo Shin, Jinhyuck Yoon and Jinhee Jang; and the Sot Dae tea infuser from Younghan Jung and Myeongjin Kim (all images apart from top left courtesy of www.i-kdm.net)

So, if the Goldsmiths talent represents the future of Korean design, the Korean Pavilion over at Earls Court is going to be well-supplied with quality designers for a few years to come.

(Click on any of the below images for a slideshow. The gallery contains some shots of 100% Design London which are not embedded in the article above)

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