25 October 2017
by Kendall Robbins
Tucked away in the busy metropolis of Seoul is Chansingdong, a traditional textile quarter next to the ultra-modern Dongdaemun fashion retail district. Small garment factories employ people who came to the city in their late teens and became highly skilled workers creating ready-to-wear garments for the mass market. Project Seoul Apparel identifies the urgent issues facing the declining garment manufacturing business through a collaborative project between the UK and Korea as a part of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism curated by Stephanie Seungmin Kim and Isak Chung.
The curators have worked with six practitioners, including fashion designers, architects and filmmakers, from the UK and Korea to create works for an exhibition housed in a former factory space. Having explored manufacturing processes, ways of working and efficiency alongside other issues within the factories, the exhibition offers a series of propositions for a better future for the people and businesses of Changsindong.
Commissioned by the British Council and the Royal College of Art for the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, this exhibition is the outcome of a residency undertaken by Royal College of Art graduates Marie Maisonneuve and Luke Stevens in collaboration with Korean practitioners Seoyeon Cho, Kooyoung Han, Jieun Lee, Jongkwan Paik and Hee Young Jung.
Kooyoung Han’s work Guide to Seoul Apparel is a map/guide leading young designers on a path to understanding and developing production techniques within the industrial ecosystem of the Changsin area. Fashion designer Heeyoung Jung uses this guide to producing garments; its repeated nature is described as the Changsin Wardrobes. Architects Jieun Lee and Seoyeon Cho applied their respective approaches, Prototypical Factory—the materialization of the newly proposed industrial system— and Facade Platform—the conceptualization of a factory facade as a reflection of a compressional urban environment. Luke Stevens and Marie Maisonneuve, emerging fashion designers from UK launched works that emphasize the potential of the garment district and its uniqueness as outsiders looking in through the glass of Efficient Aesthetics. The result was an aesthetic pleasure discovered in respect towards the existing and newly achieved efficiency. Movie director Jongkwan Paik’s video, Parallel Scenarios, traces the course of the project’s development and speculates the various strata of Changsin’s relationship network through framing and montage.
To see more of Project Seoul Apparel, including a virtual tour and further details on the projects featured, please visit the Project Seoul Apparel website.
To hear curator Stephanie Kim speak about working on Seoul Apparel, please visit tbs eFM online.
British Council Project