A subway station namesake is just the beginning for the DDP

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A subway station namesake is just the beginning for the DDP

"Seoul Haemong" from the 2019 "DDP Light" show. [KIM KYUNG-BIN]

"Seoul Haemong" from the 2019 "DDP Light" show. [KIM KYUNG-BIN]

While not remotely as famous as New York's Times Square and its end-of-year celebration, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul on New Year’s Eve won’t disappoint thanks to the "DDP Light" show, which transforms the plaza into a giant media facade processing thousands of images and regrouping them into new configurations and graphics. 
 
Led by world-renowned media artist Refik Anadol, last year’s show dubbed "Seoul Haemong," or dream interpretation, imprinted a marvelous scene on the night of New Year’s Eve for those who visited for the 2020 countdown.
 
The "DDP Light" show, which ran from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3 last year, aims to become an annual event and was just one of many projects that the Seoul Design Foundation presented in conjunction with the Seoul Metropolitan Government. 
 
While many projects have been canceled due to the Covid-19 crisis in the first half of the year, the Seoul Design Foundation which operates the DDP, is coming back with a series of projects that it has long been preparing for. Choi Kyung-ran, head of the Seoul Design Foundation sat down with the JoongAng Ilbo to share the upcoming plans set for the second half of the year.  
 
One of the upcoming projects is an idea contest that will select 1,000 public designs and support them by providing a total of 2 billion won ($1.69 million) to the designers or their companies that are suffering from Covid-19.  
 
Citizens' Lounge at DDP. [SEOUL DESIGN FOUNDATION]

Citizens' Lounge at DDP. [SEOUL DESIGN FOUNDATION]

The foundation will also launch the Seoul Design Start-up Center near Hongdae in western Seoul on Aug. 21, and open the DDP Design Store next to Citizens' Lounge at DDP next month. In addition, it will establish a Universal Design (UD) Lifestyle platform featuring "Design for Everyone" in the space on the third floor of the DDP Salimter next month. 
 
From Nov. 11 to 15, the foundation plans to hold a DDP Design Fair with small business owners. In addition, events that were launched last year will be held again this year, such as the Human City Design Awards in November and the "DDP Light" show in October and December. It will also hold a special exhibition to celebrate the opening of the DDP Design Museum in December. Below are the edited excerpts of the interview.  
 
Choi Kyung-ran, head of the Seoul Design Foundation. [CHOI JEONG-DONG]

Choi Kyung-ran, head of the Seoul Design Foundation. [CHOI JEONG-DONG]

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo two years ago, you said you wished that the subway station's name would be changed to 'DDP Station.’ How does it feel to have your dream come true?  
The decision to change 'Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station' that connects Seoul Subway Lines 2, 4 and 5 to 'DDP Station' from August will bring the global status of Seoul city to another level. The name of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station is too long and hard to remember. I’ve been insisting that it would be better to change the name of the station for the citizens to find the station more easily, and finally, it has been decided that the station will be changed to 'DDP Station' after deliberation by the Seoul Metropolitan Government's nomination committee. This was possible because the DDP has become one of Seoul's leading landmarks and a local attraction.
 
Isn't the design industry having a hard time due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
It is no exaggeration to say that the design industry, which has many small companies, was directly hit by Covid-19. That's why we and the Seoul Metropolitan Government have decided to provide 2 billion won to 1,000 design companies. Seventy percent of the design companies in Seoul are run by less than four employees, and many are unable to secure even their operating costs. The funding will be used for those in small-sized companies with less than four employees or individual designers through an idea contest. We hope designers will come up with a variety of ideas, such as designing public areas or items that can be sold at the DDP design store.  
 
Was the foundation's operation also affected by Covid-19?
Because of Covid-19, about 60 DDP events have been canceled this year, which significantly reduced the foundation's revenue. By scaling down our budget, we are preparing for the next step. Covid-19 not only affected the industry but also posed to the design world many challenges to overcome. We are putting our heads together with domestic design-related academics and industry experts to discuss how to respond to this crisis.
 
Can you introduce DDP Design Store that’s opening on Aug. 28?
If someone travelling in Seoul has only one or two hours to shop, where should they go? The DDP Design Store is the perfect place to visit. It plans to bring together Seoul's excellent design and craft products, including living products, accessories and stationery, in one place. We will sell the works of leading artists in the field of crafts such as pottery, glass, leather, metal and textiles, as well as products that reflect modern design trends. The goal is to make the DDP the best hub for designers. Since last year we have requested products from 40 craftsmen, and this year we are also developing novel designs from young designers and college students.  
 
The first Human City Design Awards held last year drew keen attention. Why did you launch this award?
This is more than just an award ceremony. It is showing our determination to make Seoul a leading city that promotes sustainability with our designs. Currently, opinion leaders from five continents around the world are having online conferences to exchange ideas on how to overcome the current situation in the design industry affected by Covid-19. We think it’s our role to share and spread the social value of design.  
 
Why is design so important?
Design is not just about beauty. Good design solves problems and inconveniences, and captures the spirit and value of the generation we live in. In this regard, the design of the public area is very important because it reflects respect for individuals, and a sense of community. I believe that the future of K-design is in a “classy design.” What I mean by a “classy design” is a design that incorporates aesthetic and community consciousness that values harmony between humans and nature. We are planning to collaborate with top experts in the industry and focus on building a future design ecosystem for generations to come.
 
BY LEE EUN-JU    [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]
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