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Swiss designs highlight form and functionality

Swiss Charge d’Affaires Daniel Cavegn (left) discusses the story behind Freitag bags with Ghana Head of Chancery Kwasi Asante (center) and Dominican Republic Minister Counsellor Ernesto Torres. (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)
Swiss Charge d’Affaires Daniel Cavegn (left) discusses the story behind Freitag bags with Ghana Head of Chancery Kwasi Asante (center) and Dominican Republic Minister Counsellor Ernesto Torres. (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)
Swiss product designers have always emphasized a balance between form and function, a perfect example being the Swiss Army Knife.

To offer a glimpse into the world of Swiss industrial design, the Swiss embassy is running an art exhibition in Seoul and then Busan next month.

“The basic thing about Swiss design is its practicality,” said Swiss Cultural and Commercial Counselor Raoul Imbach.

The Criss+Cross exhibition reveals that there is much more to Switzerland than chocolate, watches and knives.

The exhibition showcases hundreds of items from 1860 to today, exhibited in and around seven large wooden crates which give information about the small wealthy country at the heart of Europe.

The theme of the exhibition is to show how engineers and designers collaborate in the world of graphic design, in fashion and in the creation of everyday items.

“That is why the exhibition in Seoul is held at a university, because our primary target is students enrolled in design,” Imbach told The Korea Herald.

“So the idea is to get them to know more about our designs.”

Furniture, household appliances, clothes, sports equipment, jewelry, bags, books and the like are more than just implements of everyday life, they are an expression of a civilization, its place in the world and what it wants to achieve on a global scale.

The philosophy behind Swiss designs is functionality, but, as Charge d’Affaires Daniel Cavegn said, appearance is also key because Switzerland is an exporting nation.

The exhibition shows items that have been around for decades, many of which few people realize were designed in Switzerland.

One perfect example Imbach noted is the Helvetica typeface, something taken for granted by everyone using a computer.

Another omnipresent example is the zipper.

Some products have become marketing heavyweights such as the Freitag bags made out of used tarpaulins and tires, explained Imbach.

Criss+Cross runs until Sept. 30 at Korea University before moving to Busan from Oct. 10 to Nov. 10 at the Design Center Busan.

For more information, visit www.eda.admin.ch/seoul.

By Yoav Cerralbo (yoav@heraldcorp.com)
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