With over 40% of our projects overseas, we have been busy creating an international portfolio. One of our favourite places to work has to be Seoul, South Korea. We take a look at just some of the best retail design, galleries and restaurants around the city.

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We never expected Seoul to be as vibrant, evolving and surprising as it is. With pop-up art markets, rogue underground flea markets, a strong independent cafe culture, small-press bookshops and buzzing neon alleys, South Korea’s bustling capital is an exciting city to explore, with millions of discoveries to be made in each strikingly different neighbourhood.

Retail:

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Acne

The narrow, winding side streets of Gangnam house some of the most exclusive shops in the South Korean capital. Viewed from the outside, it is a restrained, rather elegant lightbox: translucent and ghostly but, in essence, plain and simple. Yet appearances can be deceptive, and so they are in this case. As soon as you enter, you realise that while it may only be a box, it is a box concealing a heavy, brooding, concrete monster.

Once in the store, you are cut off from views of Seoul; enveloped in soft daylight, filtering through the polycarbonate walls, and light from bare fluorescents overhead, diffused by metal grids. You’ll notice the store is pristine. No equipment – no ducts or pipes; no entrails or vital organs; no obtrusive mechanical realities to disturb the atmosphere within.

One last detail: the building sits on vegetation typical of that found in the Swedish archipelagos: wild plants of every description, including, of course, wild strawberries.

It’s a designers dream.

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Queen Mama Market

Anyone who admires beauty and desires to lead a life of luxury has dreamed of something like this at least once in their lifetime: a two-story building filled with beautiful flowers and trees, and a rooftop where you can enjoy a fragrant cup of coffee whilst basking in the sun. Queen Mama Market simply wants to be known as an “urban lifestyle shop.” It is a space that breathes life into those dwelling in the concrete jungle.

Queen Mama Market oozes L.A cool. The building is filled with energy so that it can be a space where city life, nature, Seoul art and people connect. From the entrance to the B1 level, there is a collection of painted china and cutlery, as well as tools and plants for your gardening needs. The first floor is the platform space, which is intended to embody art and nature and is currently holding an open

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Culture:

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Leeum Museum

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is an open museum where traditional art, embodying the beauty of Korea and contemporary
art, representing the energy of our times, and international art, reflecting current values coexist.

We highly recommend you visit The parliament of possibilities – Olafur Eliasson’s major solo exhibition which introduces viewers to a wide range of notable works from throughout his career, spanning from the early nineteen-nineties to the present.

The exhibition features a total of twenty-two works, including early pieces such as Moss wall, created with moss from Iceland, and Reversed waterfall, which defies gravity by shooting water upwards, to recent works such as Your unpredictable path, a huge nebula made from more than 1,000 glass spheres, and Rainbow assembly, made from water and light.

60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

Restaurants:

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Tosokchon

Seoul offers a plethora of delicious Seoul-food, but there’s one dish that Korean’s can’t get enough of – sam ye tang, a Korean Ginseng chicken soup! The prep that goes into this soup is pretty incredible, involving a whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in a broth consisting of Korean ginseng, jujube, gingko nuts, garlic, ginger and a variety of medicinal herbs and grains.

Tosokchon specialises in warming chicken soups, with the menu serving two types of stuffed chicken soups – regular chicken or black chicken. The Tosokchon recipe includes glutinous rice, gingko nuts, ginseng, garlic and jujube, as well as 30 different types of medicinal herbs and grains. Medicinal, low fat and packed full of flavour – what’s not to love?

5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

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Chungmuro Jjukkumi Bulgogi

For those hankering for some spicy jjukkumi, head out to Chungmuro. Opened in 1976, this restaurant was the first place ever in Seoul to sell jjukkumi bulgogi. The owner, Jang Young-chil, from Suncheon, got his recipe from his mother and marinates the octopus in a fiery red pepper paste sauce every morning and grilled over a charcoal fire, which accentuates its soft texture.

Pen shell scallops cooked with the same seasoning are also very popular here. We recommend ordering the platter set, which includes both jjukkumi and scallops.

11, Toegye-ro 31-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, 0455

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Han Chu

Fried chicken and beer restaurants are ubiquitous in Seoul, but Han Chu is said to serve some of the best. Korean fried chicken is double-fried, resulting in crunchier and a less greasy skin. As you can see from the picture below, they give you a lot so one order is enough for two.

We heard their fried green peppers stuffed with pork are said to be very good as well.

68 Nonhyeon-ro 175-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu

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