Korea Now! Craft, Design, Fashion and Graphic Design in Korea

from 19 September 2015 to 3 January 2016

As part of the France-Korea Year organised under the aegis of the France-Korea Committee, chaired by Henri Loyrette, and in partnership with the Korea Craft & Design Foundation, from 19 September 2015 to 3 January 2016 the musee des Arts decoratifs will be showing the Korea now! Craft, Design, Fashion and Graphic Design in Korea exhibition. This major event will bring together more than 700 works of art by 150 artists, artisans, designers, fashion designers and graphic designers in almost all of the museum’s temporary exhibition spaces. The french public will discover the eclectic mix of styles, tastes and creations and the contemporary brilliance of this astounding artistic heritage still little known in europe. The intriguing and fascinating megalopolis that seoul is today is a cultural melting pot and above all a centre of creative effervescence whose trends are followed closely on the international design and fashion scenes.

Download the folder of the Exhibition “Korea Now !”
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A France-Korea Year 2015-2016 event www.anneefrancecoree.com

General curator
• Olivier GABET, Museums director - Les Arts Décoratifs

• Karine LACQUEMANT and RHEEM Mi-Sun (Design / Craft)
• Eric PUJALET-PLAÀ and SUH Young-Hee (Fashion)
• Amélie GASTAUT and CHOI Bum (Graphic design)

Exhibition design
• LIM Tae-Hee (Fashion)
• JANG Soon-Gak (Design / Craft and Graphic design)

South-Korean Craft and Design

Korean design and crafts will be given pride of place in the Arts Décoratifs nave and its side galleries. More than four hundred works by a hundred artists will show the diversity of this country’s artistic crafts, ranging from artisans using ancient techniques to the technological innovations of the young generation.

Korean design and crafts will be given pride of place in the Arts Décoratifs nave and its side galleries. More than four hundred works by a hundred artists will show the diversity of this country’s artistic crafts, ranging from artisans using ancient techniques to the technological innovations of the young generation.

Ottchil lacquer, Najeon mother-of-pearl inlay, hanji paper, jewellery and metalwork are featured in the first sections of the exhibition in the Rivoli galleries. Works subject to multiple stylistic reinterpretations rub shoulders with more traditional forms, some of which are classified as “immaterial cultural heritage.” The work of CHUNG Hae-cho, one of the incontestable masters of lacquer, is shown with the young creator LEE Kwang-ho’s alternative approach to this technique. This innovative vision echoes the creations of LEE Young-soon and KANG Sung-hee, both specialists in the art of weaving hanji paper. Gold and silverware, a field in which the Koreans particularly excel, is illustrated by tableware by KIM Dong-hyun and KIM Hyeong-jun. The last two rooms in the section will highlight Korea’s dynamic contemporary jewellery scene, featuring KWON Seul-gi and MOON Choon-sun, acclaimed for their experimental use of plastic and silicon. Alongside them will be creations by KIM Hee-Joo, who works with natural materials such as leather, and MIN Bog-ki and SIM Hyun-seok, both faithful to more classical materials such as gold and silver.

The main focus in the nave will be on furniture, glass and porcelain. Although Korean design still has few outlets in the west, it is very present on the international scene at prestigious fairs such as Miami and Basel.

This outward-looking attitude is manifest in the work of the young designers, most of whom were born in the 1980s and who blend a whole new foreign formal repertoire with their own Korean artistic tradition. SONG Seung-yong, one of the most prolific artists of his generation, shows the impact of his training in France in works with hybrid mixtures of styles such as the Objet O chair. In a more traditional vein, the furniture of LEE Sam-woong and the great master of this discipline, CHOI Byung-hoon, illustrate the ancient techniques of steam bending wood still used today.

The spotlight moves to ceramics in the rooms on the Tuileries side. Divided into three main themes, celadon ware, Buncheong ware and white porcelain, extremely popular and widespread Korean production methods. Celadon, developed during the Koryo dynasty (918-1392), is being reinterpreted in simple and more contemporary forms, notably in the creations of LEE Ga-jin. Potters such as REE Soo-jong are also using the Buncheong technique with great spontaneity and gestural freedom. The same is true of the white porcelain invented during the Joseon period (1392-1910), illustrated by the work of KWON Dae-sup, whose large white jars with simple, highly purified forms also illustrate this renewal.

This journey of discovery ends with an evocation of a traditional Korean Hanok house, conceived as a void, with no doors and with very little furniture, to favour good measure and harmony. The small, tray-like “soban” tables made by YANG Byung-yong illustrate daily life “at floor level.” Bamboo work and tea ceremony services complete this vision of the traditional Korean art of living.


The Korea Now! exhibition also highlights the extraordinary panorama of contemporary Korean fashion, with more than 120 silhouettes and accessories.

The fashion creation that emerged in the 1980s won international recognition in the next decade with the now-famous Seoul-based designers JIN Te-ok (Jin Tae ok), André KIM, LEE Young- hee (Maison de Lee Young hee) and SUL Yun-hyoung (Sul Yun-Hyoung). A selection of their creations is featured, alongside a broad overview of the emerging generation. The 2000s and 2010s saw the arrival on the catwalks of new silhouettes showing the vitality the Seoul designers. One of the leading creators, JUNG Wook-jun (Juun.J), has revitalised the male image by masterfully combining western fashion references and traditional Korean costume.

The other young designers featured include PAI Sung-youn & JUNG Hyuck-seo (Steve j Yoni P), LEE Suk-tae (Kaal E. SUKTAE), KWAK Hyun-joo (KWAK hyun joo collection), CHOI Chul- yong (Cy Choi), whose work is inspired by a variety of contemporary urban cultures and mythologies, ranging from 1950s America to the Punk, Hip Hop and of course K Pop movements. Yet despite their singular aesthetic approaches, the exhibition shows their close ties with their native culture, whose rich whose ancestral heritage is its ability to assimilate all forms of modernity.

The exhibition’s artistic director, SUH Young-hee, an influential personality in the Korean fashion and fashion photography world, expresses her own original vision of fashion creation in her country in her non-chronological arrangement of the exhibition, organised around the five cardinal colours of the tradition Korean spectrum.

In traditional Korean aesthetics, red, yellow, black, blue and white have a complex symbolism. In the exhibition, each colour evokes the work of one creator, emphasising his or her dominant expressive note. The colour red, for example, is associated with the creations of LIE Sang–bong (LIE sang bong), who is fascinated by the magical rituals of the shamans. Golden yellow echoes the opulence of André KIM’s costumes, the black of night the young generation of designers, blue, synonymous with integrity, the creations of JUNG Wook-jun (Juun.J), and white the transparency and lightness of JIN Te-ok’s silhouettes. Composed like a chromatic suite of contemporary creation, this section is punctuated with authentic and replica traditional costumes illustrating the originality of Hanbok, an essential source of inspiration for all these creators.

Korea Now! explores this poetic dimension and invites us to reflect on the cultural dimension of our sensibility. The exhibition design by the architect and designer LIM Tae-hee sets these fashion creations in abstract polygonal structures subverting the western principle of perspective.

For the event, in partnership with the Hanbok Advancement Center, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is inviting a contemporary Parisian creator to design one or several silhouettes with these traditional silks to be shown alongside Korean creations. This initiative reflects the fact that fashion design is now a major aspect of Franco-Korean cultural exchanges.

Graphic Design

More than two hundred works, screen-printed posters, books and magazines by approximately twenty artists reveal the dynamism, diversity and singularity of the young generation of Korean graphic designers.

Closely linked to the history of the country, Korean graphic design is relatively recent. Its emergence has been marked by key events such as the proclamation of independence in 1945 and the Seoul Olympics in 1988, both of which contributed to the emergence of the creative environment still evolving today. Although this art form had no real national tradition, it rapidly assimilated Korean cultural codes and specificities. Forging its own modern, free visual language, it reflects the quest for renewal now omnipresent in Korea.

This section begins with a space featuring the work of AHN Sang-soo, regarded as the father of Korean graphic design. A major influence on emerging artists, he was the first to make the Hangul alphabet his main subject. Inspired by the poetry of the Dada movement and the modernist poet YI Sang, AHN Sang-soo rejected the normative rules of typography, playing with geometry and the scale of letters and sometimes mixing linguistic codes. Through his work, the exhibition explores the passion of Korean graphic designers for typography and particularly for the Hangul alphabet, invented in the 15th century. Initially created as an alternative to Chinese, then the dominant language and reserved for the elite, it has become a primordial element of the Korean cultural identity. Often passed on by women when it was created, it is now the mother tongue. The public will also discover the work of PARK Kum-jun, founder of the 601 Bisang studio, showing the particular attention he pays to the book’s formal qualities and his use of traditional materials such as handmade hanji paper. PARK Kum-jun also played his part in the expansion of the literary scene, notably with the creation in 2001 of Paju Book City, which has more than fifty publishing houses, libraries and bookshops.

The young generation is also represented by the Practice studio, the Therewhere studio, and the graphic designers KIM Bo-huy, Chris Roe and PARK Yeoun-joo. Their work shows their profound attachment to tradition and the fundaments of Korean culture, but also their openness to the western influences. In recent years numerous new studios have been created by these emerging artists in search of independence and creative freedom. Enlarging their fields of activity, Korean graphic designers are asserting themselves as key actors in the art scene and playing a full part in its emergence. The exhibition ends with a spotlight on the work of KIM Do-hyung and KIM Na.

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