Sublime genius of paper clips, Post-its and pens

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Sublime genius of paper clips, Post-its and pens


Cubic numbered dice, between 300 B.C.E. and C.E. 300.

Virtually everything we use in our daily lives were produced by creative minds.

Just look around your office. There are Post-it notes stuck on your PC to remind you to do key tasks, paper clips keeping reams of notes bundled together and cans of soda, all creatively designed with interesting back stories to tell.


M&Ms, late 1930s.

To honor these mundane but thoughtfully made everyday objects, Hyundai Card is collaborating with the Seoul Arts Center on an exhibition called “Humble Masterpieces - Everyday Marvels of Design.”

The exhibition includes Bic’s ballpoint pens, Jelly Belly jelly beans and Chinese take-out boxes, among others, and relates interesting anecdotes from behind the creations.


Lead pencil, 1761. Provided by the organizer

For example, the design that prevents M&Ms from melting in your mouth and not in your hands sprang from a trip to Spain undertaken by Forrest Mars. Sr., son of Mars Inc. founder Frank C. Mars. In Spain, Forrest Mars saw soldiers in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) eat chocolates covered with a hard sugary coating, a candy that inspired him to invent M&M’s chocolates. These sweets proved popular with the soldiers during World War II because they didn’t melt.


Post-it note, about 1977.

“Everything is designed, one way or other,” said Kim Mi-jeong of the Seoul Arts Center. “Plenty of items in our daily lives are taken for granted as they are always around us, but they deserve a tribute as masterpieces of design art.”

The exhibition first became popular in New York in 2004. It was organized by Paola Antonelli, a curator at MoMA’s Department of Design and Architecture, and Patricia Juncosa Vecchierini, a curatorial assistant.


Moscardino disposable spoon/fork, 2000.

“The MoMA showcase is a good opportunity for visitors to reflect on the significance of the time-transcending craftsmanship imbued in everyday objects such as paper clips and bubble wrap, and understand how innovation processes and the evolution of material culture have guided human beings to a better life,” said Kim.

“Humble Masterpieces - Everyday Marvels of Design” runs thru Dec. 31 at the Hangaram Art Museum at Seoul Arts Center. Admission is free and visiting hours are from Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Seoul Arts Center is located near Nambu Bus Terminal Station, line No. 3, exit 5.

For more information, call (02) 580-1300 or visit

By Jason Kim Staff Reporter []
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