It’s called son jaeju (손재주), literally “hand talent” or “hand skills”. Koreans have oodles of them, so having an exposition dedicated to it isn’t a surprise: The Handmade Korea Fair 2012 took place last week at the COEX in Seoul from July 26th, 2012 to July 29th, 2012.
“Handmade” is such a general term. It covers a very broad area of expertise. It couldn’t be more blatant at this expo; the booths and stalls were a mixture of artists, crafters, designers, and vendors. It was like going to an indoor flea market, albeit with a creative flair and a bit more upscale.
With the slogan “Real Design with Creativity”, art and design held center stage with most of the art and design being incorporated in objects for practical use. Living design, design in everyday life; even items for decorative purposes were steadfast in their statement that they did, indeed, have a purpose.
Special zones were set up for certain themes: the “Live Painting” zone, the area for up and coming illustrators; a “Handmade World Class” where lessons were being given on various crafts; special exhibit areas for wood furniture design, cake and floral design; portrait artists aiming to draw one million faces to raise awareness for disfigured children. A unique showcase of the combination of designs of the renowned Jean Prouvé and the traditional Korean white porcelain, baekja (백자).
There were many stalls for jewelry, fashion items and accessories, household knick knacks, pottery and ceramics, dolls and dollhouses. Furniture booths were impressive, as were the artists’ booths.
Some of the sights which caught my eye:
Although most of the exhibitors were Korean, there were international artists as well. Artists and illustrators were showing off their talent for all to see. Not only were there separate classes for viewers to participate, there were other occasions for participation as well, even for children.
Although I did have a very good time at the fair, I could not help but think that it was a bit “too much of everything”. Like I mentioned in the beginning, it felt like a flea market more than a proper exposition, all jumbled and pell-mell. I would have preferred more organization in the division of sections, or perhaps a more prominent theme to hold the whole thing together.
As it is only the second year this exposition has taken place, one can only hope that it would get better in the following years. After all, it wasn’t the talent that was lacking in the exposition. I’m quite sure I’ll be going once again next time.