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One of good friends and loyal customers of EK Modern shares the picture of her vintage elephant.

It boasts wonderful pattern with bright sunflower yellow color. Perfect gift for someone who seeks sunshine in this snowy weather. 🙂

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EK Modern joins dzoom, the online price guide for design!

If there is anything other than cell phone, video games (and players) and LPGA players that Korea should be proud of, it should be pottery. Often under-appreciated in the shadow of Chinese, the tradition of Korean pottery boasts both its long history and quality. Koreans started making stoneware around BC 1st century and developed it into celadon in 10-14th century and white porcelain after 15th century, both of which were highly sought after by then the Asian ruler China.

However, this tradition and the quality of works is largely lost due to the political turbulence during the 19-20th century, first Japanese occupation and then the Korean War. Artists in the modern Korea had to face the burden of reviving the tradition and creating something new, something modern. This struggle, I believe, is still going on.

Luckily I have found one exceptional lady who is making her stand in this struggle. Hwang Jong Nae (1927- ), one of the first modern Korean ceramic artists, was born to an artistic family; her father, Hwang Jong Koo, also a well-known potter, devoted his career to reviving the tradition of Korean celadon. She studied painting at a college and pottery at a graduate school. In the 50’s Korea, it is rare for a young lady to go to college not alone graduate school. It already tells how much she was devoted to this path and also her environment supported her passion. After the war, she started teaching and grew the next generation.

Her early works show a great sense of color; probably reflects her educational background in painting. She soon turned her interest to Punchong, transitional style between celadon and porcelain mainly created in 14-15th century. Her works not only rediscover the old style and method but also recreates it in a modern term.

During the conversation she said that Punchong was the most Korean pottery among many styles due to its history and nature. Punchong was known to be created often by ordinary craftsmen, as opposed to highly skilled ones for the noble clients during the 10-13th century, and features the unrestrained manner in its form and decoration.  One of her Punchong works is housed in the British Museum as a fine example of modern Korean pottery.

Many of contemporary Korean potters make interesting or rather trendy shape, which at times reflect the stereotype notion of “Asian,” mainly evolving around the minimal and nature-inspired zen style. However, I still believe what makes art great is not the trendy surface but the thoughts and the craftsmanship that could materialize the thoughts. Is it too old school of me?

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2012 is also a year of big change in Korea; we have the presidential election, too. The TV campaign of candidates has started; every corner of the video is already analyzed and criticized. One of interesting points other than promised policies is the lounge chair that one of the candidate is sitting on in the campaign. 

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It is the lounge chair designed by the husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames for their friend Billy Wilder, the director of “Some Like it Hot” and “Sunset Boulevard,” and manufactured by Herman Miller since 1956. It is still in production and without a doubt one of design icons that are highly sought after all around the world. In Europe, works of American designers are not really highly regarded, however the ones by the Eames are exception. The Eames pieces might feel like a “proven” work (hence worth investing). 

The chair uses rosewood and leather for the seat. It comes in different colors besides black, but black seems the most poplar and classic. It is in fact quite comfortable. And to add to its luxurious feel the ottoman provides a comfortable support for your tired feet. Well, now it sounds as if someone like presidential candidates who would struggle everyday to make the nation better deserves such sitting.

For my taste – in fact a lot of people (especially vintage dealers) agree with this – the old ones are better than newly made chairs. Considering Herman Miller’s statement that they have kept the craftsmanship since its first creation, the quality should be the same if not better. However, the ones from the 60’s have beautifully aged wood and most of all beautiful leather. Why?! Maybe because people could kill animals more freely back then??

The critics of this campaign, or rather the candidate himself, questions how and why a presidential candidate, who of course emphasizes on his care for middle class, can indulge in such an expensive chair. As for the price, Herman Miller posted $3824.15 (it’s on sale now. Originally it was $4499) for the set, and I believe it should be the price of its official retailers. If the shipping, custom fees, all other expenses and the markup for the local retailer are considered, the price here in Korea could be between 5,000,000-7,000,000 KRW ($5,000-7,000 roughly). Then, how about the old ones? It varies depending on the condition or the location of seller (the ones in New York would price it more highly ) but generally costs around $3800-5000. Because of the value for the age and the widely shared understanding that the old ones are better, vintage can be more expensive than the newly made.

I didn’t mean to express my political opinion through this writing. I don’t want any criticism or explanation (well… the campaign of this candidate did release their explanation saying that he acquired this chair, the used one, at a very low price). However, I am really curious what his PR people were thinking when they placed this chair in the TV commercial. Didn’t they think that people will nag on this chair? Or was it their intention to plant this chair so that it could create a sensation and hence people will watch the campaign one more time? If they did, they did succeed. Bravo!   

For the past few days, for some reason, I’ve devoted this blog to British stuff: Elliott’s chairs, Salvage Hunters (Drew is British) and finally the one and only Anglepoise!

 

The first “Anglepoise “ was designed by the British automotive engineer George Carwardine (1887-1948) in 1932 and manufactured by Herbert Terry & Sons from 1934. In 1935, the original model was modified for domestic setting to the one now known as Model No. 1227.

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As a herald of task lighting, Anglepoise embodies the innovative concept of balancing weights with springs, cranks and levers. The constant-tension principle of human limbs applied to the basic structure of the lamp allows flexible repositioning and as a result the light remains highly stable and holds any position. It can literally afford almost all position in 3 dimensional space! The shade concentrates the beam on specific points without causing dazzle. This focused beam enables the lamp to consume less electricity, and thanks to this feature it was advertised as the best lamp for black outs during the war time. (A funny side note: it uses a French bayonet mount and bulb and I happened to get 4-5 of them from my last trip to Switzerland before I acquired Anglepoise. I am proudly saying that I am probably the only one in Korea who has the largest possession of bayonets.)

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Celebrating Anglepoise’s 75th anniversary Terry & Sons reissued the original design of Model No. 1227 in 2009 and it was honored by being placed on a Royal Mail Stamp commemorating British Design classics. I’ve never been into stamp collecting but would love to get my hands on one of those design stamps.

In fact, my first encounter with Anglepoise was with its new model: Giant 1227. Yes, it is gigantic!

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Anglepoise Giant1227

Although it is cute (well, big but cute) my heart still falls for the original Anglepoise for the creativity, ingenuity and human scale. But nonetheless congrats on the second wind of Anglepoise!

Awesome show on Discovery Channel

It’s been long since I last found an interesting show on Discovery Channel. Well, it has many awesome shows but I just missed them all.

The Salvage Hunters is the show about an antiques dealer who buys architectural and decorative salvage pieces – in other words, things that the owners almost threw away or neglected for decades. 

The items that he buys are definitely very British. Among Korean antique dealers, it is called “retro style”; such as industrial hanging lamps, art deco fence, very heavy looking oak desk… you get the picture. They are not exactly not my cup of tea, but the show itself is interesting.

Interestingly enough, the show especially highlights the difficulty this dealer has with the sellers; sellers want higher price (of course) or don’t want to sell things once they find out the value their items hold. The Discovery Channel page describes “simply discovering a treasure is only half the battle – Pritchard must artfully convince owners to sell, and at his price.” Well, I’d revise the “half” to “one fourth.” Finding, buying and restoring is all fun. The hardest part is to find the right buyer for the item. In this world in which money makes money, big time dealers allure people with their amazing space and even more amazing inventory. But look around, you can get a much better deal with small time dealers unless you want to buy a Picasso.  🙂 

New look to Brits!

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http://www.ekmodernkorea.com/cat129_en.html

Many visitors are surprised at this pair of English chairs sitting in the gallery for two reasons: they are in such nice condition considering the age (4-50 years) and the distance they traveled (England to who knows where to South Korea), and they are very low (in Koreans’ mind all “westerners” are tall and have long legs).

I’d like to add one more reason; in fact the first impression I got from these chairs (and fundamentally the reason why they are sitting in EK Modern waiting for the future owner) was that they looked quite Scandinavian. In a way it is true.

The chairs were made by the famous British aircraft manufacturer, Elliotts of Newbury. Elliott’s of Newbury was founded by Samuel Elliott in 1870 as “Elliott’s Moulding and Joinery Company Ltd.” It produced ammunition boxes during the World War I and aircraft components during the World War II. After the wars the company continued with aircraft production of which the most famous example is the EoN Olympia series. At the same time, it started furniture production after WWI and continued until it closed in 1970’s.  

So it is clear that the chairs are following the design of Scandinavian design, which reached its zenith during the 60’s and 70’s. Look at the sleek legs, reddish Teak color and scooped back! Among the Elliotts furniture, a few items show very very very strong influence of Danish modern. 

Some very nice people (thank you!!) again share the information which shows a couple of pages from Elliotts 1950’s catalogue.

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http://www.newbury.net/forum/m-1312629244/

They are probably too early to show the Scandinavian influence. But nonetheless it is an interesting primary source. 

What’s good about these late Elliotts chairs is that you can enjoy now highly sought-after Danish look at a very economical price. 🙂 I also found an amazing interior arrangement using a different type of Elliots chair. I am not posting the pics because I haven’t asked the blogger who posted her/his pictures yet. But it is good. so please do go check out!

http://fatcatbrussels.blogspot.kr/2012/09/dining-area-before-after.html