70 Seoul Design

There are times when one can see where the future can go. Is it going to be the type of future that we imagine with a smart design and estheticaly pleasing look or one that is something else. Do we look back and keep pondering the horrors that we inflict on one another and the planet or do we do something about it. Today I got a chance to see that future that we can have if we do something about it. 

Having been dissapointed with my favourite coffee chain I sought out some other. There are plenty of choices I just had to find one that was open this early in the morning at ten a.m.!? Maybe I just didn’t walk down the right street but eventually I did and had a traditional (for Korean coffee shops) breakfast. It’s called Honey Bread and I usually don’t have ice cream this early in the morning but hey I’m on vacation. Besides my customary egg wasn’t available. I liked this place and sat there for a while composing. 

My plan was to go to Dongdaemoun History and Culture Park. There they have built a Design Museum and Exibition Space that looked quite interesting. On this trip I have seen a lot of history and while it’s all fine and good I’m fascinated with design as well. It is really not that far from my hotel so I decided to walk along the Cheonggyecheon stream. It’s the reclaimed stream that had all those lanterns. It’s actually quite a good pathway to take as it avoids all the traffic and signals that impede moving forward. 

Walking along this stream I had a better chance to appreciate its construction and the joy that it brings to people’s lives. The overpasses that carry the traffic overhead serve as shady spots for people to get away from the hot sun that has blessed us today. What’s more I noticed fish swimming in the water. I sat down under one of these overpasses and observed the fish congregating in the shade as well as some ducks that swam just enough to stay in the shade. Someone started throwing food from the bridge and the fish and ducks competed for the little morsels of food. It was a pleasant sight to see. I was fascinated by this for a while. There were at least four different species of fish from little tiny ones to much bigger ones. All of them swam against the current to maintain being in the area where the food appeared. Just imagine this was all covered up with an elevated highway overhead some twenty years ago. 

I don’t know how long I stared at the fishes but it was time to move on. I kept walking along admiring all the little details around me. This stream also serves as a flood defense and there are ladders and signs warning of how it is used and what to do in case the floodgates open. Quite a bit of water can enter here to receive the pressure on the sewers. 

I climbed to the surface a street too soon but that gave me a chance to walk through the clothing market. Since it’s Sunday I figure things operate at a reduced capacity but the scale of this area is astounding. There are many many stalls here. I made my way through here quickly and walked past the shopping malls that are filled with all kinds of fashion outlets. For all the women who like shopping this would be their ideal place to come. There is really a lot of fashion here. 

On my left as I walked south was the design museum. What a pleasing building to look at with its rounded edges and soft grey color. The surface slightly reflected the sun without causing too much glare. The shape of the building screamed of the future. 

The buildings shape is also a result of necessity. There is an archeological site that is preserved under one of the overhangs. This creates a space underneath not only for the preservation but also for things to happen around it. It’s a wonderful feature. Symbolically the roots of the people are protected by the new growth around it. 

Places have a feel to them. Every place has an aura to it sometimes it’s influenced by personal mood but sometimes the place overpowers and affects mood. I don’t really have too many worries and am generally optimistic and this place elevated that optimism. It’s strange too since there weren’t any exhibitions open. The only things inside were vendors selling interesting trinkets. These were those smart products that you see on the interweb. I was tempted to buy some of them and got some brochures for some to order later. 


I walked around the place as there were outdoor vendors and displays. There were many people around checking out the place and milling about. I walked the circular pathway to the top floor and walked down the green roof to the sidewalk. I walked through the basement and made it to the malls on the other side. I had to meet Michael as we were going to have Korean BBQ together. It’s always nicer to eat with someone. I had the spot picked out from the day I got here. It’s close to my hotel. 

Through our modern means of communicating we set up a spot to meet by one of the stations and since I got there early I found a coffee shop. It is a practical find as I could also send out messages. Michael couldn’t find me initially as the exit numbering is slightly off on google maps. This was only temporary. 

We set off and walked to the BBQ area through fairly deserted streets. I guess it is Sunday and people are not as keen to be going out today. The days prior to this were filled with people and many more shops were open. I knew that the BBQ area would be open and when we got there they sat us down at one of the tables and we chose beef as our meat. They quickly inserted the charcoal and grill and brought out the condiments to dip our meat into and consume with. It was a really enjoyable way to eat a meal. There was even a “foodie” tour that came by and had a BBQ. I guess we picked the right place to come to. 

The plan was to meet up with some people from the hostel in the area where I spent my day. They were a bit late and we had to double back to meet up with them as we gave up on their arrival. When we did they wanted to eat. I knew where to take them as I walked through a food market earlier. It was a bit of a walk but they were pleased with the variety on offer. They wanted to continue eating so Michael and I went back to the design area. I figured that he should at least see the place before it closed. We didn’t have much time. 

We walked along the stream and Micheal had the same reaction to it as I did. It was a cool place in the city. The design museum was coming to a close and I liked how the lights came pouring through the surface. The area itself changed with the lights eminating from all the buildings illuminating the steets below. Is this the consumerist utopia that some envisioned or do we still have to work on the design? There are glimpses here and there of reusing and recycling. The potential energy stored in these products is there. Maybe sometimes it would be wise to design better and be wiser with resources so that we wouldn’t have to spend so much energy fixing the problems created later. 


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