All eyes on Korea

South Korean artist have taken centre stage in London this summer.
It all started with Korean Eye 2012 – a collection of key works by 33 contemporary Korean artists: painters, sculptors and photographers. This exhibition wanted to highlight how contemporary Korean artists are exploring and bringing into play a wide diversity of new materials bound together by the use of time-established and more innovative techniques. On show at the Saatchi Gallery, one of the city’s best-known art venues, this exhibition helped focus on the rich tradition and promising future of this country, which is still fairly unknown to the European public.
Then the past weekend it was time for the London Design Festival. Now in its sixth year at the Old Truman Brewery, Tent London is one of the largest design trade shows taking place during the Festival.
It presented over 200 international exhibitors, and here too young South Korean artists were a strong presence, where technology and tradition seemed to be underlining themes to most works on display.
For example rabito’s phone cases and accessories explore the intimate relation between people and their inseparable gadgets. The bunny shaped cases make the phone feel more like a friend or a pet, rather than a cold piece of technology. And besides being cute, the cases are quite practical too: the bunny tail is a detachable suction knob that helps stand the phone vertically or horizontally (for example to set it on a table and watch videos), while earphone cables can be neatly rolled around and secured to the ears when not in use.
Goldsmith College and Korea Design Membership‘s representative of 12 young artists reflected on the interactions of cultures and design and produced several interesting prototypes.
For example “Sot-Dae” tea infusers were inspired by the traditional bird-shaped objects displayed on the outskirts of villages to ward off evil spirits.
The “Picnicking bag of London” draws on Korean tradition of foldable cloth bags, doubles as a waterproof pic nic mat, and helps you through your journey in the UK capital too – the inner lining depicts a map of the city centre.

So yes – let’s keep an eye on South Korea for the future!