Are you a dab hand at designer furniture? Check out this

By Han Young-Jun, a furniture designer You only ever wanted a nice flat to live in. But where’s a good place to rent to have a fancy look? This month, the answer is someplace…

Are you a dab hand at designer furniture? Check out this

By Han Young-Jun, a furniture designer

You only ever wanted a nice flat to live in. But where’s a good place to rent to have a fancy look? This month, the answer is someplace hot in Seoul. That’s right. The capital city’s burgeoning Kim Yoo Woon department store has decided to make the legendary Yellow Brick Road at the tourist attraction a kind of temporary stage for a summer’s worth of modern art projects.

Set to run from 28 July to 3 September, in a kind of caravan of rooms within the store, the experimental exhibition titled “By Design in the City” will be to the delight of those in the know. What are they expecting? Some originals, at least, and plenty of fun.

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A block with a thing or two to see

Take the corner of Cheonggyecheon and Woonwoo streets on Seoul’s south side, and suddenly the exhibition draws you towards it. You can see for miles, past the cleverly concealed “metamorphobubble” until you come to a 21st-century home where furniture has mysteriously come to life.

I’m on the fifth floor of the Home-Rural Gyeonggi-gakmun Cooperative Store. That’s where the furniture developer Wann and some other furniture experts are putting together the pieces that will decorate the space until the show closes.

Initially, Wann wasn’t quite sure what to do with my chair. Then I explained that we were all at the same stage with our design ideas. So what if someone would buy my chair in a few weeks? Just do the installations you like best.

The piece itself, “Two People,” already had the necessary fittings – an iron rod with circular holes for heads, incised from stainless steel.

Wann explained how the furniture manufacturer turned it into a stool (this wasn’t in the brief), and then into a chair. “Actually, we were thinking of the topic of how to transform a chair to look as if it had evolved into something different. But by accident, the chair turned out looking a little bit different,” he laughs. “So we threw the chair and furniture together into an undulating form like a paper tree.”

Wann, a furniture designer from the Ministry of Education, began his work with “conceptual furniture” some six years ago. “We often create different pieces with a wider purpose – making beds by replacing a door – but in the end everything looks the same. So I started working on making a concept piece.”

One of his first projects was around a lawn outside of a US National Defense headquarters in Seoul. “We made a pretty lot of chairs, seating devices, and so on. We also made them in a big sand trap. In the end, we took some of them home and made other parts. That project was symbolic of the kind of thinking we do,” he explains.

Because “By Design in the City” will be a series of 21st-century pieces made for the exhibition, much of what they’ve created will be unexpected.

Take the table. It’s made from 3,200 life-size figures – mainly members of the public. The figures themselves are made of leftover wood from earlier furniture installations. All they were stuck together. The artist might have considered planning the installation according to the lines that would decorate the table or the rows of objects on the tabletop. “In a way,” Wann says, “but we thought we could just see it as having lots of individual parts and going with the idea that a table is dynamic and so the figures can move and change to an extent.”

“We thought we would find something really complicated,” he says. “But in fact, we think it’s easy to play with the shapes. We also thought it would be very artistic in a way.”

Also making an appearance on the installation are standard-sized televisions, whose flat screens pop out from stalks of plastic wrapped around a picture frame. They’re television’s modern-day cousin to the newsreel. And they make us wonder what they used to be like.

Later on the floor there’s a couple of chairs with tables placed around the main bench. Of course, the artists did not intend for the pieces to look like the classic mahjong pieces they were originally. So this was a way to show how a chair can turn into furniture. Each chair is made of different materials, such as wood, bronze, and glass.

“If you’re not an artist,” Wann laughs, “you may not understand or appreciate the piece you’re making. But as long as it seems to fit with our idea, that

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