What is the difference between art and design? We interpret expression on artworks as we encounter the piece with/without its detailed narration, whereas we intuitively understand what a given design is directing us to do. Although the utilitarian aspect of the design is often emphasized, the core DNA of design shares human expression with art.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) of Seoul Design Foundation (SDF) is located in the center of Seoul, Korea. DDP quickly became a landmark that symbolizes the soul of design that Seoul, as a mega city in Asia, conveys. SDF wants to be with its citizens in their everyday lives by offering supports for designers and programs for people in the city.
Seoul is a city with endless possibility for art collaboration and SDF leads the way taking design high up in the sky with its famous UFO-like facility.
Seoul Design Foundation (SDF): SDF was created in December 2008 to raise Seoul’s capacity in designing as a city to a globally competitive level. Primarily, SDF operates DDP, but it is also involved in a variety of design-related projects aimed at building Seoul as a Smart Universal Design City, creating a Design Business Hub, proposing a distinctively Seoul Lifestyle, and more. Through these projects, SDF hopes to create a classy, dignified life for Seoul citizens through design.
SDF: SDF’s mission and vision are as follows.
Mission: Develop the design industry and promote design culture to improve Seoul’s capacity in design as a city
Vision: Help Seoul citizens lead classy and dignified lives through design
SDF: SDF has public design projects, safety assurance design projects, design and crafts projects, and hosts the Seoul Fashion Week to support the ecosystem in our design industry. It also supports fashion sewing design industry, and operates DDP which is a cultural complex for our citizens.
SDF: In 2014, SDF successfully opened DDP with great fanfare from major media outlets both in Korea and abroad. Since then, DDP has quickly become a popular filming location for advertisements, movies, and shows aired in Korea and internationally. It was also selected as one of the 52 places to visit (January 7, 2015, the New York Times), further propelling DDP’s status as an international landmark. Apart from DDP, SDF continues to promote an international exchange program involving the World Design Capital (WDC), has successfully established Seoul Fashion Week as one of the top five fashion week events in the world, hosts international events such as the ‘Seoul Design Cloud’ that helps promote design and communicate through design, all in order to raise the brand value of Seoul. To improve Seoul’s competitiveness in design to a global level, SDF has taken on a variety of projects, and it is looking forward to taking on more challenges in the future.
SDF: In 2018, SDF welcomed its fourth CEO and is now focusing on expanding the base for universal design, helping startups by young designers, creating employment opportunities for young designers, and promoting design services tailored to our everyday lives. With these new strategies, SDF hopes to push its design-related projects forward.
SDF: SDF evaluates content based on whether it is consistent with DDP’s identity, the inherent power of the material itself, the capacity it takes to showcase the content, ability to attract citizens, public utility, etc. In particular, SDF takes the first two factors into consideration the most. DDP has only one exhibition hall exclusively designed for showcasing design content. Therefore SDF determines what content will come across as refreshing and interesting to our citizens and if it conforms to the identity DDP has created for itself.
What has been the most challenging or controversial art exhibition you've featured through programs at SDF?
SDF: French stylist and fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier’s exhibition would be the one. The chose DDP in Seoul for the last leg of its world tour. This also meant that Seoul became the first in Asia to host the event. The featured not only an exhibition, but also an opening fashion show. As you would expect from a designer known for innovative works using unfamiliar materials in fashion such as plastics and cans to create garments, launching skirts in various lengths for men, etc. to transcend conventions, the fashion show turned heads with unique pieces like the Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) crossed with conical bras. Such innovation and ability to think outside the box exhibited by Jean-Paul Gaultier were extremely similar to what DDP was looking for, so naturally, it was more memorable.
SDF: From July 27 (Fri) to November 6 (Tue), DDP will host the Lunar Park Exhibition and in November 2018, it is going to open the Keith Haring Exhibition. Directed by world-class designer Stefano Giovannoni, the Lunar Park Exhibition is a theme park inspired exhibition featuring more than 100 designers from all over the world, including Italian designing legend Alessandro Mendini, French designer Philippe Starck, Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, and more. Meanwhile, the Keith Haring Exhibition will showcase more than 170 items.
At the Lunar Park Exhibition, visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of works done by world-famous designers in one place, and at the Keith Haring Exhibition, they will be able to see Haring’s entire body of work including Icons (Barking dog), Radiant baby, Pop Shop II, etc. as one of the most prominent pop artists in the world along with Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein.
There is also the Seoul Design Cloud event which gets under way from September 17 (Mon) to September 26 (Wed). The Seoul Design Cloud, an event created to stimulate DDP’s next leap forward as it turns four, is a design event revolving around the Seoul Upcycling Plaza and one that invites direct input from our citizens. With this event, SDF is planning to focus on the main theme of ‘Universal Design’ and showcase the classy, dignified lifestyle of Seoullites with design used as an essential ingredient. Seoul Design Cloud will be hosted at DDP, a soon-to-be world landmark. The word ‘Cloud’ was added to the event to represent the fact that data from SDF’s signature design-related events such as the Seoul Design Week, Seoul Fashion Week, Seoul Recycling Week, etc. will be collected and displayed in one single location.
SDF: DDP is the posthumous work of the world-renowned architect, the late Zaha Hadid. It is an ultra-large building featuring cutting-edge 3D construction technology. These two factors combined have made DDP into a destination architects from all over the world want to visit.
In 2006, the Mayor of Seoul opened DDP to create an exhibition venue which had special meaning in terms of design with its presence alone, much like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Befitting its striking exterior that integrates sophisticated style with cutting-edge technology, DDP continues to host a variety of international design events such as the Seoul Fashion Week, and exhibitions for Alessandro Mendini, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Andy Warhol, etc. to inspire visitors in terms of design. SDF, which operates DDP, will continue to present a newer, broader world of design to those who visit DDP with exhibits, conferences, events, etc. that promote a wide spectrum of new designs.
Please tell us if you have any special accommodations for foreign visitors to help them to fully enjoy the contents offered at DDP.
SDF: One of DDP’s most notable services for foreign visitors is the DDP Furniture Collection. The DDP Furniture Collection was designed to help visitors experience the value and joy of design by looking and actually using furniture items produced by world-leading furniture makers. DDP has furniture made by more than 110 world-class furniture designers hailing from 30 countries, including Thomas Heatherwick (spun chair), Jaime Hayon (Poltrona Showtime), Eero Aarnio (Pony). Visitors can come to DDP and sit on each item. Furniture items are repositioned periodically, so that visitors can come across different items whenever they visit DDP.
Other useful service for our foreign guests include our DDP Guide System, kiosks, DDP Audio Tour Program available in four languages, and DDP monthly magazines published in Korean and English. The DDP Guide System was the first in Korea to win the ‘Merit Award’ at the SEGD Global Design Awards which is the preeminent event in the world when it comes to experiential and environmental designs. Meanwhile, DDP has kiosks all across the complex. These kiosks operate in four languages, and offer brief descriptions of the DDP’s architectural features and available programs. DDP also publishes a monthly magazine at the start of each month. The magazine provides a comprehensive introduction into exhibitions and events that may interest readers.
The DDP Audio Tour, which is popular among foreign tourists, is an unguided tour that helps visitors understand and cover DDP more easily and fully using the audio guide program that serves up detailed commentary on DDP’s construction, history, and culture. (※ Please note that the Audio Tour is not available for DDP exhibitions or events)
- Service Hours: 10:30 ~ 18:00 from Tuesday to Saturday (counters close at 17:30)
※ Regular Holidays: Mondays, Sundays / Lunch Hours : 12:00 ~ 13:00
- Service Charge: KRW 5,000 (tentative)
- Included Features: Audio Guide (device rental) + DDP Tour Guidebook
※ You must keep your ID at the counter when renting the audio guide.
- Available Languages: Audio Guide Languages (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
- User Instructions: Request on-site at DDP
Please note that the Audio Tour is temporarily unavailable at this time as it is going through an overhaul. The Service will be available in October 2018.
Please explain what fashion design means for the foundation and how it is balanced with other design fields.
SDF: The fashion design field is one of SDF’s core business areas together with the Citizen Design Project, Seoul Upcycling Plaza, and DDP. Since March 2014, DDP as a cultural complex has hosted the Seoul Fashion Week twice a year (March and October). Seoul Fashion Week is a global fashion event attended by influential buyers and media outlets from around the world. To help the event establish itself as one of the top-5 fashion week events after New York, Paris, London, and Milan, Seoul Fashion Week has gotten under way at DDP, which itself has turned heads across the globe, since 2014. Meanwhile, the Dongdaemun Gate area where DDP is located is the most prominent fashion town in Korea. It is the best place to get in touch with fashion and promote fashion design thanks to the continued influx of young people.
Please let us know about the design education programs and career-related assistance programs that you offer at SDF.
SDF: SDF is offering ‘Life Cycle Design Education and Training’ as an education and training program at DDP. Details are available on DDP’s website (www.ddp.or.kr).
- Life Cycle Design Education and Training
- Children’s Design Experience: Program to help improve creativity through design-related activities (February ~ September 2018)
- Youth Mentoring Seminar: Lecture program by designers to advise career options (January ~ June 2018)
- Lifestyle Lecture, Seminar: Lecture program on clothing, food, and living for the general public interested in design (September ~ November 2018)
- Public-Private Sector Joint Education and Training
- Teacher capacity building program Joint education with the Institut Francais: Training and experiential program to stimulate design-oriented thinking (June ~ August 2018 – Half-yearly)
- Hyundai Motor Company Design capacity building program: Training program to build capacity through design (February 2018)
Among employment programs supported by SDF, there is the Seoul Design Startup Center which will open in February next year as well as the Youth Apparel Production Talent Development Program, and the Seoul Fashion Creative Studio.
The Seoul Design Startup Center is an incubator for young entrepreneurs looking to begin a design startup (single person company ~ small company with less than three employees). The Center will help them commercialize and produce ideas into marketable products. It will also attract investment to stimulate the growth of the designing industry and create a healthy ecosystem for design. The Center is expected to offer programs that enable designers getting ready to launch their startup to establish their business and secure a footing in the market. To do so, it will help entrepreneurs receive education/training, rent joint workshops and equipment for prototype production and testing, and provide opportunities to showcase their work at available gallery venues.
Youth Apparel Production Talent Development Program aims to develop young and talented individuals heading towards an i-Fashion era and create employment opportunities. The Program features three courses. Please consult the following information.
1) Technical Modelist: teaches hand patterns and 3D digital patterns
2) Fashion Design Multi-Technician: teaches design, patterns, and sewing techniques
3) Sewing-Technician Master: teaches basic-level sewing to advanced-level sewing techniques to develop master-level sewing technicians
Seoul Fashion Creative Studio is a fashion-incubating project that aims to develop new designers with creative and sophisticated taste. With this project, SDF provides financial support, production venues for up-and-coming designers with great potential. SDF also offers marketing support by helping designers win contracts with on/offline distributors and participate in pop-up events. Moreover, the Studio helps designers receive training/mentoring, debut on Seoul Fashion Week, secure celebrity endorsements, create lookbooks, carry out online marketing, etc. in order to make sure they establish a strong business foundation and improve sales from a long-term perspective.
- Featured image on the top: DDP Birdview, Photo by Panta Creation
- Photos courtesy of Seoul Design Foundation