Design gurus say you are what's on your desk

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Design gurus say you are what's on your desk

When this small Korean company began selling CDs and stationery in downtown Seoul's Kyobo Bookstore in the early '90s, there was little demand for designer trash cans, pen holders or teaspoons.

But visit its store today and you'll hear people dropping designer's names -- Panton, MacIntosh, Aemes, Corbusier.

In the spacious Design Image flagship store in Cheongdam-dong, the items for homes and offices have star-quality and high prices.

Take the Helit Foster series of desk accessories. This is the Mercedes-Benz of office gear. The buffed aluminum-and-black plastic pieces are designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster. A sleek Helit Foster computer-diskette box costs 81,000 won or $70, a desk clock is 13,500 won and a tape dispenser 150,000 won.

Team those items with envelope holders, trays and rulers by the Italian lighting designer Paolo Rizzatto, and your desk will look like it belongs in a design museum.

If you want to see technology meet style, check out the new Porsche Design housewares series by Siemens Technology. Its silver "intelligent" toaster (330,000 won) can be set so it knows when the bread is browned to different users' preferences. The hair dryer (220,000 won) weighs twice as much as conventional driers.

Flying off the walls is the City Hall Clock (240,000 won), a minimalist timepiece with a white face, tiny black hands and silver frame. It was designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Danish designer Arne Jacobson. Mr. Jacobson popularized simple, stackable chairs in the 1950s.

The best-selling items in the store are ceramic dishes from France in red and cobalt blue, says Lee Jung-sook, the store's sales coordinator. "They're so popular we decided to bring in white for our spring collection."

Design Image has six branches in Korea, including stores in Gwanghwamun (02-732-9961), Seongnam (031-753-9961) and Daegu (053-425-9961).


by Ines Cho
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