Annual design fair shows that home is more than where you sleep: More people are using living spaces to express their interests, personality

Apr 09,2019
Left: A bedroom furnished with Mickey and Minnie Mouse bedding at the Disney Home booth. Right: A display of modular furniture by Swiss manufacturer USM, whose CEO Alexander Schaerer spoke at the 25th Seoul Living Design Fair’s Living Trend Seminar. [NEWS1, YONHAP]
Korea’s largest interior design extravaganza wrapped up yet another successful run on Sunday, as industry insiders, marketers and trend-conscious consumers made their way to Coex, southern Seoul, to check out the latest furniture, appliances and home accessories.

This year’s edition of the Seoul Living Design Fair featured 366 brands from across the world, including global heavyweights such as Fritz Hansen and LG alongside local appliance makers and rising designers. A record 286,000 visitors dropped by this year’s event over its five-day run.

Visitors had plenty of attractions and interactive activities to visit and get the most out of their time there.

Rows of delightfully-furnished rooms and furniture layouts offered inspiration to visitors planning a spring makeover. Several modular furniture makers, including Switzerland’s USM, came to offer a taste of their highly flexible and intricately-engineered pieces, which often come in blocks that can be taken down and assembled according to room size and requirement.

A shell-shaped piece from MAY& ArtFurniture. [KIM EUN-JIN]
The Disney Home booth showcased bedrooms decked out in prints of iconic Disney characters, while an adjacent room was a Marvel fan’s dream chamber, featuring gaming chairs, air purifiers and even running machines all featuring emblems of classic heroes like Spider-Man.

The Seoul Living Design Fair’s theme this year was “Making a happy home,” which, according to organizers, touches on the growing interest in making one’s home suitable for activities beyond just sleeping.

“There’s been a growing number of ‘Home Ludens,’ or people seeking happiness at home,” read an official statement from the Fair, organized by Coex and Design House, Korea’s top publisher of design-related magazines.

“Millennials are now transforming homes to suit their taste, making them optimal for personal hobbies, house parties, pets and plants.”

Top: A refrigerator from Italian appliance maker Smeg has a retro look. Above: Small Stuff’s dog stairs can be placed beside a sofa so pets can easily climb up. [NEWS1, KIM EUN-JIN]
Pet-specific furniture was definitely a scene stealer, if not one of the most popular attractions at the fair.

Small Stuff, a brand specializing in pet-specific furniture, showed off its pastel-hued dog stairs at their booth. This rising must-have accessory for pet owners is intended to “prevent kneecap dislocation in pets,” according to the company, allowing dogs and cats to climb up to the sofa instead of needing to jump.

Howlpot, another household name among Korean dog-lovers, displayed an array of cozy dog seats and cute toys shaped in the form of instant noodles and gimbap (seaweed rice rolls).

The impressive number of electric massagers - for the neck, hands, feet and more - served as a reminder that the home, among other functions, should serve as a place of rest.

One eye-catching area of the fair was health product manufacturer Factorial’s booth, where dozens of visitors stretched out and made themselves right at home on a long row of bunk beds in the middle of the crowded hall.

The beds all had heated, massage-equipped mattresses, which, according to the staff at Factorial, have the effect of not only inducing deep and satisfactory sleep but of also loosening back muscles that have become tight from sitting in front of a computer for hours. The 20-minute trial sessions were enough to allow visitors to take small naps.

Onlookers admire pieces from Little Sisters Furniture at the Seoul Living Design Fair 2019, which ran from April 3 to April 7 at Coex in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. The annual interior design event celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. [NEWS1]
Booths offering free treats were also popular. Hungry shoppers were encouraged to line up for bites of freshly-toasted pastries in front of Japanese appliance maker Balmuda’s booth, which was promoting “The Toaster,” a magical device that promises to “bring dead bread back to life.” More huge crowds gathered to get a sip of coffee brewed by Nespresso’s newest capsule machine, while sizeable groups flocked to try samples of locally-made food like gochujang (red chili paste).

More ambitious visitors paid an additional fee to hear insightful talks on the topic of “The Future of Urban Living” from eight industry experts who graced the stage for a two-day “Living Trend Seminar” series on Thursday and Friday. Among notable speakers were USM CEO Alexander Schaerer and MINI Living’s Oke Hauser, an architect whose designs respond to the scarcity of living space in the city. Both of their works were prominently displayed in the exhibition.

BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]

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