Seoul Aims to Become
Global Design Center

Design Olympiad being held in the run-up to Seoul being World Design Capital for 2010

The Seoul Design Olympiad 2008 opened on Oct. 10 for a 21-day run at the Jamsil Olympic Sports Complex in Seoul in a bid to make Seoul a global center of design.
About 3,000 celebrities, including invited foreign participants of the Seoul Design Conference, design experts from Korean and foreign design organizations, got together to attend the world's first comprehensive design event.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said in his speech during the opening ceremony,
"It the Seoul Olympics Stadium, where we achieved the Olympic Miracle 20 years ago, we're striving to make a miracle of design with the passion with which we have made the IT miracle for the past decade."Seoul will seek sustainable development through design, which could lead to an improvement of the competitiveness of both the capital and the nation, he said.
In his commemorative message, President Lee Myung-bak called for organizing committee officials to enhance the nation's image by making the Seoul Design Olympiad a success.
The event is being held in connection with the designation of Seoul as the World Design Capital for 2010 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid).
With the theme "Design is AIR,"the Olympiad is comprised of four parts: the Seoul Design Conference,
Seoul Design Competition, Seoul Design Exhibition and Seoul Design Festival. The theme words of the event are "sustainable," "convergent," "interactive," "participatory"and "connecting,"alluding to Seoul's future plan of city design that will call for eco-friendliness, cultural richness and creativity.
The works of Zaha Hadid and her partner Patrick Schumacher are on display at a special exhibition that demonstrates new concept designs of cars, chairs, sofas, tables, benches, vases, chandeliers and other daily objects that go beyond conventional boundaries.
The Seoul Design Competition is designed to present visions and strategies of cities from across the world and find forward-looking design solutions compatible with Seoul's urban projects through the participation of students and professionals.
The Seoul Design Exhibition provides spectators with an opportunity to take a look into international design trends through creative works by Korean and foreign designers. The Design Festival stresses citizens'participation to help spectators see, hear, smell, taste and touch design.
The exhibits include decorating the stadium with empty PET bottles and transforming the venue into the world's largest plastic stadium.

The following are excerpts of an interview with Kim Soon-jig, deputy commissioner of the Seoul Design Headquarters, and NewsWorld on the Seoul Design Olympiad 2008.
Question: The Seoul Design Olympiad 2008, an event designed to transform Seoul into a creative city, has opened amid much expectations and concern. When did your preparations begin?
Answer: We have been preparing for the design Olympiad for the past 10 months with a 7 billion won budget. We hoped we could have prepared in a better and more diversified fashion, but we're time-pressed and budgetarily constrained.
Q: More people are lining up in the queue to enter the venue than we thought. Does it cause concern to have a greater response than expected?
A: We're going to achieve a target of 2 million spectators.
Q: President Lee Myung-bak showed keen attention and took a look into diverse exhibition pavilions. There are an endless number of things to see, which are on display on the first through third floors. Is one day long insufficient to cover all things?
A: Design is not just making things pleasing to the eye, but also a concept of making people safer and happier by changing public life and innovating.
Q: Many companies participated in the event. When will the Dongdaemun Design Plaza be completed?
A: Companies do well in using space as if they are artifacts with a view of promoting their corporate image. We organize the Seoul Design Olympiad annually with the goal of ingraining the image of Seoul as a design city. If and when the plaza is dedicated in 2010 as planned, it promises to be beloved as an international tourist attraction.
Q: Will you tell us about how you developed the Seoul Design Olympiad?
A: In reality,
the Seoul Design Olympiad 2008 and 2009 will be a kind of pre-Olympics events. The Olympic Games are an extraordinary event of sportsmen from across the world, so the Seoul Design Olympiad should be a festival of global designers. Seoul, which has been designated as the 2010 World Design Capital, will organize the Seoul Design Olympiad in 2010 in collaboration with the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid). As Athens was the birthplace of the Olympics, Seoul will become the birthplace of the Seoul Design Olympics.
Q: What benefits do you expect the Seoul Design Olympiad to bring about?
A: The Design Olympics is designed to improve Seoul's competitive edge and brand power, explore new cultural and industrial content and business models, establish its standing as an international design city, attract foreign tourists and improve the quality of citizens'lives through rich cultural experiences.
The SDO is projected to bring about at least 460 billion won in direct and indirect value-added production and create more than 6,000 jobs. nw

(above) The colorful decorated facade of the Jamsil Olympic Sports Complex, the venue of the Seoul Design Olympiad 2008. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks during the opening ceremony of the Design Olympiad.

(from left) Seoul Mayor Oh See-hoon and other notables take a look at the exhibits on display at the Seoul Design Olympiad 200.; A view of the Seoul Design Olympiad,; and one of Zaha Hadid's works.

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