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[Design Forum] Design changes lives for physically impaired

Swinging-door bathtubs (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)
Swinging-door bathtubs (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)


Universal Design Expo was launched Wednesday to display some of the latest technologies and art objects with “universal designs,” or designs that all walks of life including the physically impaired can enjoy.

On display from Dec. 2-6, the main exhibition of Seoul Design Week 2015 consists of 11 experience zones, seven “life experience zones” and four “transportation experience zones.”

The life experience zones include five experience-yourself sections, such as home, school, library and office life zones, one model house for families -- each facing different kinds of physical impairments -- and a one-bedroom for single seniors. 

Telephone with magnified numbers (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)
Telephone with magnified numbers (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)


The experience zones are fully garnished with home furniture that is designed to meet the needs of the physically impaired and elderly users, including a height-adjustable bed and washing basin, telephone with magnified numbers, swinging-door bathtubs and electronic home appliances with low-height focus.

The exhibition’s transportation experience zone allows visitors to try different kinds of vehicles and for the physically impaired, such as wheelchairs with detachable seats and a maximum speed of 24 kilometers per hour. Automobiles with ample rear space that can carry two people in wheelchairs were also displayed.

One of the most popular design items was babies’ fever-detector clothing. When the clothing detects fever or heat, the color of the patterns changes color -- a scene that awed many viewers. 

Babies’ fever-detector clothing (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)
Babies’ fever-detector clothing (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)


Some tech-savvy instruments that are not as popular here as in advanced countries set up demonstration booths at the expo as well, such as three-dimensional printers, especially popular for teeth implants and science labs that require precise reproduction of the original.

The Seoul Handcraft Expo held in the neighboring exhibition hall looks into the contemporary interpretation of Korea’s modern designs.

The expo also has its wits and graceful code of humor. The expo’s spoon collection of the Goryeo era is apparently displayed to lampoon the “gold spoons,” “dirt spoons” and other ranks of the so-called spoon hierarchy of social class – which derives from the Western idiom “people born with a silver spoon in their mouths.”

The first phrase that viewers encounter upon entering the handcraft art expo delivers a precious lesson: “There is nothing that is completely new -- they come from the countless successful and failed experiences that have piled up into our contemporary culture and handcraft art, the pride of the nation.”

Hwayang Furniture,” furniture of the Joseon era, is exhibited at the Seoul Handicraft Expo during Seoul Design Week 2015 inDongdaemun, Seoul, Wednesday. (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)
Hwayang Furniture,” furniture of the Joseon era, is exhibited at the Seoul Handicraft Expo during Seoul Design Week 2015 inDongdaemun, Seoul, Wednesday. (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)

(Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)
(Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)

The expo’s spoon collection of the Goryeo era is apparently displayed to lampoon the “gold spoons,” “dirt spoons” and other ranks of the so-called spoon hierarchy of social class. (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)
The expo’s spoon collection of the Goryeo era is apparently displayed to lampoon the “gold spoons,” “dirt spoons” and other ranks of the so-called spoon hierarchy of social class. (Chung Joo-won/The Korea Herald)


By Chung Joo-won (joowonc@heraldcorp.com)

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