While Seoul is rapidly making its way to the top of any discerning traveller’s bucket-list of cities for its incredible food scene and world class fashion boutiques, it is also the place to be for all things design. Of course, this is not surprising. For a city that prides itself on being achingly hip and always ahead of the curve technologically, slick design is a must. So, to get a taste of what is on offer, Backyard Opera sussed out a few of the places that are worth a visit for the latest and finest art and design.
First up is Millimetre Milligram. Housed in a raw concrete block in the happening Hannam-Dong area, for Millimetre Milligram every small difference is important. Brought together under one roof here are chic stationary, designer homewares and carefully selected receptacles. The store also includes the Seoul branch of Japanese design store D&Department which focuses on products designed to last a lifetime. Upstairs is speciality coffee roaster Anthracite which has only a long glass wall separating the counter and the roasting room so you can see the magic as it happens.
Symbolising Seoul’s aesthetic is the Dongdeamun Design Plaza. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the amorphous structure contains a design museum with rotating exhibitions, a conference centre that hosts exhibits related to the latest commercial design trends and a design shop that houses a multitude of stands with products ranging from the quirky to the futuristic. The entire plaza, only completed in 2014, is envisioned as a space where designers can come together and conceive the projects of the future. This encapsulates the attitude that Seoul has to those seeking to innovate and create.
Our final recommendation is Queen Mama Market. Opened by two doyens of Korea’s fashion industry, Kang Jin-young and Yoon Han-hee, you know before you even walk in that everything across the multiple floors in this building will have been reviewed by a trained eye before it goes on sale. The areas in this store vary from lush and green to sleek and silver. Both local and international designers sit side by side here and products range from furniture to jewellery to dishwashing gloves. On the top floor is Manufact Café which turns out a mean coffee that you can enjoy on the rooftop terrace, looking over the boutiques of Gangnam.