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2013 Gwangju Design Biennale: Anything, Something

Taking place September 6 to November 3 in the city of Gwangju in southwest Korea, the 2013 Gwangju Design Biennale will showcase around 660 installations and designs works. Around 358 participants, including 339 designers from more than 20 countries, will take part in the event.

Held every two years, the Gwangju Design Biennale was initiated in 2005 by Metropolitan City of Gwangju following the success of the Gwangju Biennale, the first biennale to be held in Asia.

Theme: Anything, Something

According to the organizers, under the theme of Anything, Something “the Biennale will explore cultural habits, shared characteristics, and coded conventions that inform the many unspoken contexts by which we communicate with one another.”

Biennale director Young Hye Lee explains that Anything refers to the day-to-day task of designers to create from the universal, while Something points to the designers’ job of identifying specific needs and forms and creating value. She adds that the theme’s keywords are perfectly in tune with designers who are in touch with the present and preparing for the future.

◇ 2013 Gwangju Biennale — The Industrialization of Design 

While past exhibitions at the Biennale tended to emphasize aesthetics, the focus of the 2013 exhibitions is on the industrialization of design and on products that can be developed for distribution.

Designs for public spaces, daycare facilities, and an African mobile cinema powered by a portable solar charger will be among the exhibits, as well as those focused on supporting regional and national economic development as well as strengthening urban branding.

The role of design in the social and public interest based on a model of livable public spaces and ‘good design’ is also worth noting.

More than 600 Artworks

The 2013 Gwangju Design Biennale comprises five sections including the Main Hall (Design Identity), Special Exhibition 1 (Design Industrialization), Special Exhibition 2 (Community Design) and workshops. More than 600 works will be displayed and a total of 358 (260 domestic and 98 overseas) architects, designers and creators from 20 countries are scheduled to participate.

They include internationally renowned figures such as Japanese architect Kuma Genko, architecture critic and director of the London Design Museum Dejan Sudik, Australian International Design Awards representative Brandon Gien, and leading designers such as Martin De Spiegeleer, Vivian Westwood, and Paul Smith.

Participants from Korea include 2009 Gwangju Design Biennale director Eun Byung Soo, Baek Sun design studio CEO Kim Baek Sun, and fashion designer Jang Gwang Hyo.

Many young artists are also taking part in the event including Lloyd Choi, a designer currently working in London, Go Tae Yong, lead designer of the 2012–13 Korea soccer strip and CEO of Beyond Closet, and Ha Ji Hoon, furniture designer and winner of Korea’s 2008 Young Artist of the Year design award.

Projects promoting public participation

The positive effects of design on daily life and in public spaces will be explored and public participation projects will be highlighted.

A newly designed bus stop will be installed in front of the exhibition venue and, as part of civic participation project, a “fabric embroidery kit” will be set up in the Special Hall 2 (Community Design) and frames provided for visitors to display their own embroidery.

In another project engaging the public, Gwangju Poly II Memory Box, an installation of 148 “memory boxes”, is on display at a rest area in a local underground shopping plaza.

At the 2013 Gwangju Design Biennale, anyone can enjoy and be inspired by design.

For more details visit the official website:

<2013 Gwangju Design Biennale theme song ‘Action’ by BoA>

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