If you have hesitated to visit exhibitions because of their “art for art’s sake” approach and the puzzling aesthetic world behind abstract paintings, the fifth edition of the Gwangju Design Biennale will give a better sense of art that illustrates our daily lives.
“This year’s event will depart from its previous focus on forming a discourse and aesthetics productions. It will rather center on industrialization, stressing the effectiveness and efficiency (of design),” said Lee Young-hye, artistic director of the biennale which kicked off on Wednesday in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province.
Some 328 artists -- 238 from Korea and 70 from other countries -- searched for ways to industrialize their design from planning and developing to distributing by launching co-brands with companies or collaboration with other artists.
The theme for this year, “Gusigi Musigi,” is a combination of two pronouns, frequently used in the Jeolla region, which are often used during conversation when the speaker can’t think of an exact word but both the speaker and listener know what he means.
Exhibition curators said that the theme, which is roughly translated as “Anything Something” in English, refers to the mutual understanding based on shared knowledge and coded contexts.
Along with the industrialization highlighting the added economic value of design, another important theme is the social role of design, which is reflected in the display of public design works.
For example, the Chosun University Package Design Center added artist touches to taxi drivers’ uniform and trash bags used in the five districts of Gwangju. Among them, the most-voted work will be used in the region. Eco-friendly design for gardens and farms are also set to attract attention.
Lee Young-hye said that design has almost limitless possibilities in creating extra value for urban and national development.
Fashion guru Vivian Westwood and Paul Smith, both of whom are known for their world-renowned status, joined the biennale. Other participating experts include Japanese architect Kuma Kengo; Deyan Sudjic, director of London-based Design Museum; and Brandon Gien, chair of the Australian International Design Awards.
The Gwangju Design Biennale will be held through Nov. 3.