Artful coexistence and the virtue of design furniture

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Artful coexistence and the virtue of design furniture


“Negatif No. 11” (2010), left, by French sculptor and light artist Francois Morellet, alongside the “Divided Sideboard #2” (2007), a humorous furniture piece by Swedish design team “Front Design” at the exhibition “The Virtue of Design Furniture” at Hakgojae, a galley in the art zone east of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul. The show runs through March 20. Provided by the gallery

“Synergy” is one of Koreans’ most beloved business terms and is used by Korean chief executives so frequently that they sometimes misuse it just for good effect.

Some may feel uneasy hearing the word used in the art world. But it is what first comes to mind when viewing the “Virtue of Design Furniture” exhibition.


James Irvine’s “Casino” (2008), a bookshelf made of anodized aluminum, is also part of “The Virtue of Design Furniture” show.

Fine art and furniture designs are displayed together to provide a more aesthetic appeal than can be achieved when they are exhibited separately.

The show started yesterday at Hakgojae, a gallery in the art zone east of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul.

British designer James Irvine’s bookshelf “Casino” (2008) is set against the wall with four pieces of chaekgado, a genre of Korea’s Joseon-period (1392-1910) still-life paintings, that depict books and luxurious stationery.

Not only in theme but also in rough composition, the bookshelf by the British contemporary designer and the paintings by anonymous Joseon painters are strangely similar to each other.

The tall bookshelf has Mondrian-like grids, while the piled-up books in the paintings form a fairly similar grid.

This artful coexistence is also true for “Negatif No. 11” (2010), a piece by French sculptor and light artist Francois Morellet, and “Divided Sideboard #2” (2007), a furniture piece by Swedish design team “Front Design.”

The work by Morellet consists of a canvas on wood painted with black acrylic and tilted at a 45-degree angle with white neon tubes.

“By tilting the simple monochrome canvas, the artist transforms a still and stable image into a dynamic and unstable one,” explained Kim Han-deul, a curator at Hakgojae.

“The sideboard by Front Design, inspired by magic performances, also has a monochrome color and simple design, but the dynamic image at the same time with the top drawer looking like it is floating in the air,” she said.

Front Design is a design group composed of three young female artists based in Stockholm: Sofia Lagerkvist, Charlotte von der Lancken and Anna Lindren.

The team is well known for “Sketch Furniture,” the results of design combined with performance. In the design process, they make free hand sketches in the air and the pen strokes are recorded with motion-capture techniques and become 3-D digital files. Then, these are materialized through rapid prototyping techniques into real pieces of furniture.

In another corner, Ganghwa Bandagi, or a big wooden chest made on Ganghwa Island in Incheon in the late Joseon period, is displayed with a small oil painting by German artist Tim Eitel. The calm atmosphere of the chest, with its simple design and valuable high-quality pine, goes well with that of the painting in which details and backgrounds have been intentionally omitted.

The show features six furniture pieces, three lighting pieces, nine antique pieces and six paintings in total.

“To broaden the range of art collectors, we are holding design exhibitions,” said Woo Chan-kyu, president of the gallery.

The show runs through Mar 20. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Go to Anguk Station, line No. 3, exit 2, and walk for 10 minutes. Visit or call (02) 720-1524~6.

By Moon So-young []

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