Photo review: 2012 Seoul Design Festival

Written by on December 17, 2012 in Arts, Brands & Products, Lifestyle

The 11th Seoul Design Festival took place at COEX in Seoul from December 12th to December 16th, 2012. A comprehensive exhibition about all aspects of design, this year’s exhibition showcased the concept of “design for better living” with displays emphasizing nature and the environment, recycling and ecology. The exhibition was composed of six sections: Trend Now, Designer Promotion, Design Solution, Designer’s Lab, Design Spot, and Special Exhibitions.
As usual, I went for a look and took some photos of the displays which caught my eye.

Trend Now features the design collaboration between businesses and designers to introduce new trends. More and more brands and businesses are employing independent designers in addition to their in-house designing staff to incorporate a new, fresh look into their products. Not only do their brands and products benefit from the designs, the designers also get the chance to show off their work to a much broader audience: a perfect win-win solution.

Shinhan Card’s Gallery: designer illustrated credit cards

Kia’s Design Works car design

400 ceramic plates & Recycle Design

Naver’s “Design for Better Experience” greenhouse

“Designers are assets for the future”, the slogan goes. New and young designers, including design students, are featured in this section for product design, graphic design, furniture design, fashion design, and crafts.

Young Designer, New Challenge

Kim Jung In’s graphic design has an arty edge

Minwoo Lee’s roundline furniture

Kim Seong Ho’s “Entropy Lighting”

Whimsical bottle message stickers from Park Jeong Won

Jeong Yong’s chairs

Park Jin Il’s “Deep-rooted Tree” series

This section serves as a launching pad for design companies’ new products in the fields of graphic design, character design, calligraphy, advertising and brand consulting, product design, furniture, architecture, and crafts.

When brand design meets a fishery: “Fish n Fishy”

Art Fever handbags are collaborations with illustrators

Visitors leave their mark at Pilmuk’s calligraphy booth

Christmas cards from Gracebell

Samwon Paper’s decorative paper shoes

Sweet Humming will make your baby’s portrait with polymer clay

Rabbit Ami’s calendar and stationery

7/7 Pattern interprets traditional Korean patterns with a modern sensibility

Choi Gwang Hyo’s yeti figurine

Oh Soo Dong’s deer lamp

Design schools, educational institutions, and business incubating centers also participate in this section. Student work is always interesting, as they are mostly presenting their ideas and are less hindered with the mass production factor. BI centers also provide arenas for hopeful designers who might not have had a formal education in the field.

Konkuk University students show off their work

Kim Moonsun’s orange peeler

Hwang Hyunji’s chopper

Han Ka Young’s tree themed tissue holder

Traditional patchwork bojagi lamps from Hongiya

Hangarak’s gadget for chopstick beginners

Futuristic fashion design is Yoon Sejung’s specialty

A collection of art objects from renowned designers and artists, this year’s theme was the umbrella. The umbrella can mean many different things, which was quite obvious in the various interpretations which were on display.

Designer Lab: Umbrella Art Object

May the (design) force be with you

Fashion designer Chang Kwang Hyo’s umbrellas

Autumn themed umbrella from Park Jun Bum

Lee Sungjn and Lee Minhye’s characters take an umbrella ride

Laser-cut poetry rain falls on Kang Byung In’s umbrella

Design Spot is not exactly a section of the exhibition, but rather the title of the compilation of designated locations in Seoul featuring living, art, and culture shops and venues. Stores, cafés, restaurants, galleries, museums and even offices became a spot to showcase design. Around 100 locations were selected in the Apgujeong, Sinsa, Nonhyeon, Samseong, Hongdae, Jongno, Daehangno, Jamsil, and Itaewon districts.

Design Spots in Seoul

Several special themed exhibitions were going on, but the main attraction was the “Jinbyeon Jinyong” (진변진용, 眞變眞用) presented by the Cultural Heritage Administration. The displays present how traditional artistic values can be reinterpreted in a modern way and incorporated in everyday life. Renowned traditional artisans participated in this project.

An office equipped with a desk with traditional lines

Peaceful tea room

Everyday objects with traditional aesthetics

Rulers, a jewelry case, and yo-yos

Agriculture and farming can be somewhat unexpected in a design exhibition, but as modern life looks into organic and biodynamic ways of living, the importance of promoting produce and back-to-nature lifestyles have grown in the past several years.

Ssamzie showcases organic products in their “Agriculture is Art” section

An apple display from the “5 Fruits” exhibit

Tangerines and melons have their own booths, too

There were several booths in line with the nature and ecology theme as well.

Via K Studio’s lamps made from recycled magazines and flower pens

Paper deer table-top decorations

Ecobridge’s ecology-minded stationery

Besides the exhibits, there were seminars about design, branding, marketing, culture, and trends; displays of award-winning product design; shops for art and design books and magazines; cafés for those with weary feet; and booths for “design for humanity” non-profit organizations.

Flour package design for Cheiljemyunso

Water bottle design for Hallasu

DESIGN magazine booth

“Save the Children” – knit a hat for a good cause

For more detailed information regarding the designers or products, check out the official site:


About the Author

Suzy Chung

Multilingual editor, writer, and translator. Coffee addict, bookworm, art junkie, foodie, oenophile, and a billion other things. I tend to talk a lot. @suzyinseoul