by Jincy IypeNov 18, 2022
Last December, the Hyundai Department Store Group in South Korea reopened its Daegu branch as 'The Hyundai Daegu,' after a year of rigorous renovation. This Daegu branch is the second venue under the brand name 'The Hyundai,' after the inaugural branch in Yeouido, Seoul. The Hyundai Daegu aims to establish itself as a 'culture and shopping landmark' to represent the region (the third largest city in Korea after Seoul and Busan), with its unique content and sophisticated space design.
The main highlight of this renovation is The Forum, conceived by Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon. The 4,565 sqm cultural space and cafe occupies the entire ninth floor at the top of the building, which consists of an interior space and an outdoor garden. Dedicating an entire floor of a department store to a cultural and arts space is a unique and bold endeavour by Hyundai, and has apparently never been done before by any other retail brand in the country. The Forum has been conceived as an artistic, eclectic, and playful space, offering a unique experience that highlights art and culture, with its bright, bold and exquisitely crafted interiors offering a unique hospitality experience.
Underscored by Hayon's signature style of surreal whimsy and compositional dexterity, the commercial design is perfumed in playful patterns and décor, vibrant hues, with organic statues and plants for company, with various elements competing and complementing each other playfully.
The bright and cheeky spatial programme also seems to cater to customers under the age of 50, a demographic that has proven to be huge spenders in the department of luxury goods and meals in South Korea. The interior design speaks to the demographics' fashion-conscious, Instagram-worthy aesthetic and modern sensibilities, in addition to highlighting an attitude of exploration and craving newness, which is apparent in Hayon’s interior design for The Forum.
The Forum centres itself around cultural and art-related facilities and is sectioned into five main areas—The Cafe Walking Cup, a signature cafe of The Hyundai Daegu where visitors can enjoy speciality coffee, brunch, and bakery. The Colosseum, a space for cultural activities with a symbolic meaning inspired by the design motif of the Roman Colosseum, where citizens gathered and discussed; The Green House, dubbed as the ‘soul of The Forum’ by Hayon, as the space is made in the shape of a greenhouse with green steel frames. The Forum Shop, a shop and gallery where visitors can see Hayon’s production sketches and videos of The Forum, along with various merchandise; and the Gates Garden, an outdoor sculpture park with myriad gates formed by seven massive, uniquely humorous statues designed by Hayon (as tall as nine metres), enriched by 34 different types of trees and plants.
The Forum at The Hyundai Daegu marks the third collaboration between the Hyundai Department Store Group and Jaime Hayon, bearing authentic and artistic spaces within the retail environment. The MOKA Garden at SPACE1 in 2020, also built in collaboration with MOKA, the Hyundai Museum of Children’s Books was the first instance, where Hayon created an ultra-whimsical setting with three interactive spaces to encourage children’s imagination and play—the MOKA Library, Jaime Hayon Garden, and MOKA Play. The second collaboration came in the form of the YP House, an exclusive lounge for young VIP customers in The Hyundai Seoul in Yeouido, Seoul, and the Pangyo branch, which opened at the end of 2021.
The Hyundai Daegu is also home to the MOKA Plus, a dedicated space for children run by MOKA replete with graphic books, exhibitions, and educational programs. Hayon’s famous 'Thinking Monkey' sculpture, a beautiful statue of a monkey holding a large golden ball that invites children to an imaginary world and a key figure articulating the MOKA Garden, also makes a significant return at The Hyundai Daegu.
"The collaboration with The Hyundai Daegu has been very special. It has provided me with an opportunity to deliver artistic inspiration and vitality to people. As this project is entirely unconventional, we aimed to make something new, a real challenge for us as artists and designers and for the brand. We love to go somewhere where we are discovering together. I wanted to give the experience of travelling to a new planet as people move through this space made of different rich areas. We were given full creative freedom to really create something unique that has never been seen before and to achieve this, we used all our interior design expertise, joined with artistic knowledge, to create a space of awe and enjoyment,” the interior designer shares with STIR.
"I think the heart of The Forum is the Colosseum. It is the centre of the space and is designed in an open form so that other spaces can be viewed from the inside. I thought of it as a space for people to gather at any time for diverse events like performances and lectures. I paid a lot of attention to the overall structure and emphasised originality by adding unique patterns on the floor and walls. I was mainly inspired by ancient Egyptian wall paintings as well as Greek and Roman civilisations. I have always been exploring these ideas and motifs throughout the 25 years of my career. I paid attention not only to the patterns but also to the material. I wanted to create a more three-dimensional shape by applying ceramics or crystals so that people could feel as if they were in a different time and space,” he continues.
“In particular, it is an exceptional effort to establish an open space for the public outside Seoul in collaboration with a world-renowned designer. Like many countries around the world, cultural facilities in Korea are concentrated in Seoul, the capital city of Korea,” the brand relays.
Hayon, known to not take himself too seriously and bring to life imaginations we would carry sacred as children, also relays to STIR how he came up with the idea of the walking cup design, as unconventional as the rest of the fantastical project—"I also participated in branding design for the cafe. I am a huge coffee lover myself. I always carry a coffee cup with me. So, I came up with the design of the walking cup by imagining a cup that moves with me as if it had legs. I like it very much.”
Elaborating on the design and concept of the interiors, the Spanish designer cites The Forum, the place of congregation for the people in ancient Rome, as inspiration. “All parts of it were envisioned to be the heart of the city and create a place for gathering. At the heart of The Forum is the Colosseum. It is the centre of the space and is designed in an open form so that other spaces can be viewed from the inside. I thought of it as space for people to gather at any time for diverse cultural events like performances and lectures, referencing the design motif and symbolic nature of the Roman Colosseum, where citizens gathered and discussed,” Hayon tells STIR.
To make the coffee experience special and enjoyable, Hayon Studio created an environment that is exceptional and unique, with sculptural shapes surrounding guests, along with custom designed furniture providing varied ways of seating, so each person can discover a new place within the project every time they visit.
The Spanish designer also dove headfirst into the materiality of the project, including plaster, metal, glass, wood, coloured stones, and fabrics to articulate the dreamy interiors. He shares with STIR, “We used a tremendously rich material selection all built with the highest quality standards. The colour palette is a combination of neutral (earthy, sandy tones) with bold ones to create a dreamy atmosphere where the sensation of lightness involves the visitor. The use of colour here helps to add a kaleidoscopic effect to the overall interior perception.”
The visitor experience through The Forum is nothing less than a dreamscape— guests arrive at the core of the ninth floor from the escalator and are greeted by a column that tells a story, accompanied by a heroic character at the top, overlooking the outdoor garden. Here, a large door indicates the entrance to The Forum. Once you enter this area, the Colosseum awaits as the heart of the space, with custom-designed flooring and colourful inlay changes throughout. A quirky cloud design motif in the ceiling gives the entire space a light and scenographic effect.
Toward the end of this room lies the Walking Cup café, set within a sculptural pod with many types of seating areas where people can enjoy, read, work, and hang out. An amazing glass and metal greenhouse where one can enter and sit surrounded by luscious greenery rests to the left of this space, along with a shop with a small gallery showing the process of how the space was made in the first place. To the right side of the floor, more private seating areas provide views of the outdoor sculpture garden. The sculptural Gates Garden with enormous, imaginary characters increases visitor interaction. A winding path lets guests walk through the park, and view the sculptures from different angles, including a staircase climb that allows one to see them from above.
For Hayon, the coming few months are packed with art exhibitions in different parts of the world, with many new sculptures and playful ideas being etched in his mind, notebook, studio, and a lot of paintings. His child-like, idiosyncratic interiors, much like his ceramics, furniture designs and artworks, remain etched in memory. Much like a filmmaker, Hayon creates theatrical sets that accordion, shift, and surprise-like scenes in a theatre. With The Forum, Hayon has achieved a dreamscape interior through his elaborate practice of custom designing almost every element; from the furniture and lighting to wall panelling, floor tiles, ceilings, door handles, mirrors and vases, sculptures and artworks.