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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

K-design offers solutions to life’s problems

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The orange chair on the right is a prototype “Longevity Chair,” a foldable seat installed on columns at crosswalks for the elderly. The pink one on the left, the “Caring Chair,” is for anyone who needs it, including children or pregnant women. [SHIN MIN-HEE]
The orange chair on the right is a prototype “Longevity Chair,” a foldable seat installed on columns at crosswalks for the elderly. The pink one on the left, the “Caring Chair,” is for anyone who needs it, including children or pregnant women. [SHIN MIN-HEE]

Design applies not only to clothes or interiors. It also has the ability to solve everyday problems. Park Bo-gyoon, minister of culture, sports, and tourism, stressed the importance of public design.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Craft and Design Foundation held a proclamation ceremony to promote “K-design” at the D Museum in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul, on Wednesday.

“Design has the power to change urban spaces and societal issues,” Park said. “Public design in bus stops, parks and plazas give them a breath of life and can make abandoned spaces more valuable.”

He also introduced 12 planning strategies to promote design, centered on different fields like fashion, art and the metaverse — “it’s the new frontier for K-fashion,” Park said — and a new national design museum in the city of Sejong scheduled for completion in 2026.

The museum will include archival materials, exhibitions and research on the past, present and future of Korean design. An inauguration committee for the museum is set to launch this month to discuss and organize specific matters.

Several model cases of unique and meaningful designs were introduced during the ceremony. For example, the Namyangju Police Station invented “longevity chairs,” which are foldable orange seats installed on pillars at crossings.

They were created in 2019 because the city had seen a large percentage of traffic accidents happening due to elderly citizens jaywalking. After a survey by the station on why many of them were risking their safety, the elderly said that it hurt their knees and legs to stand and wait until the light turned green.

The chairs were installed to encourage them to sit down instead of choosing to jaywalk, and now some 2,500 of them are scattered across the country as a successful example of public design.

“It’s been four years since they have been implemented, and since then we haven’t seen any traffic accidents among the elderly,” said Yoo Chang-hoon, an officer from the Namyangju Police Station, during the event.

Other cases included aiding people with visual impairments, like octagonal sidewalk blocks that assist such pedestrians when walking on sidewalks or crossing the streets, and 3-D-printed objects that can be used as teaching materials for them.

The culture ministry said that it would announce additional comprehensive plans for promoting public design at a later date.

BY SHIN MIN-HEE [shin.minhee@joongang.co.kr]