Old Seoul Station finds new life as a rail museum

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Old Seoul Station finds new life as a rail museum

When the new Seoul Station recently opened to serve as the capital’s central station, many wondered about the fate of the old Seoul Station.
Since it was built during the Japanese rule, in 1925, the station, which reflects the colonial architecture, has become one of the major historic landmarks in Korea.
On April 1, when the old Seoul Station officially reopened as the Railroad Museum, the building attracted design industry professionals, diplomats, government officials and the press, who celebrated the opening of the museum and its first design exhibition.
After the opening address by French Ambassador to Korea Francois Descoueyte, the guests were led inside.
What used to be the spacious lobby of the station under the sky-high dome is now an ideal space for artwork. A bilateral design exhibition organized by the French organization Promotion of Industrial Creation (APCI) and the Korea Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP) marked a new beginning for the station.
Sponsored by the Korea National Railroad, Korean Ministry of Economy and the Economic Mission of French Embassy to Korea, the exhibition titled “Creativity of the Future: Korea France Design Innovation” currently displays 80 works from France and Korea.
Since the official exchange and collaboration of design was agreed in October 2000, the two design organizations have continued to promote industrial collaboration between the two countries.
The exhibition features the latest works that won the l’Observeur de Design Award from APCI and the Good Design Award from KIDP, in a number of categories, from home appliances to outdoor sportswear to office supplies.
The idea for the display was proposed last year by Anne Marie Boutin, the president of APCI. She had hoped that French and Korean designers would work together on collaborative designs.
At the exhibition, however, products shown are largely divided into two categories.
While Korean companies, such as Samsung and LG, showcase Korea’s high-tech electronic goods, such as multi-functional mobile telephones, impressively sleek flat-screen TVs and refrigerators equipped with a computer monitor on the door panel, French companies introduced items that focus on humane needs.
Pointing at an artificial foot and a special carbon wheel for wheelchairs, Ms. Boutin explained what design could do to improve the quality of life. “This artificial joint alleviates pain, and this wheel is lighter and resilient,” she says.
Her favorite items included the Veuve-Clicquot Ponsardin champagne package, a small fan and a microscope.
“This fan looks like an ordinary toy fan, but you can put fingers through it, and so young children won’t get hurt. This easy-to-use-and-maintain microscope is specially designed for grade school children and their science classes,” she says.
“The champagne packaging is most ingenious. The package holds the bottle like an ordinary box, but when it’s open, the package can stretch open to look like a bucket ―you can put in ice to chill the champagne anywhere anytime,” she says.

by Ines Cho

The exhibition runs until April 14. For more information, go online to www.apci.asso.fr, www.designdb.com, or www.korail.go.kr.
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