Named World Design Capital in 2010, Seoul is made for style gurus. South Korea‘s capital is a spectacular city to explore, with contemporary dining spaces, beautifully curated galleries and architectural wonders. Here’s our guide to the best spots in town.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
As one of Seoul’s most eccentric modern architectural structures, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is without a doubt the epicenter of all things design in South Korea. Appealing particularly to young trendsetters with its wide variety of attractions, the neo-futuristic complex is a fully equipped facility where visitors can enjoy food, shopping, and entertainment all in one place.
The DDP hosts international events such as the bi-annual Seoul Fashion Week; showcases of renowned fashion brands, including Chanel and Louis Vuitton; and art exhibitions featuring the works of Alessandro Mendini, Paik Nam-June and Kim Young-Won, among other notable artists.
281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 2153 0000
With wide windows, minimalistic furniture and a well-curated garden, the coffee house is a designer’s dream, while its specialty coffee and homemade pastries keep loyal patrons coming back for more.
While beautiful in the day, when natural light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows, the library is just as impressive in the evening, when the shelves are illuminated. Not only does Starfield Library provide comfortable reading space to its visitors, but it also offers a variety of monthly cultural events and performances with different themes on a daily basis.
Situated at the foot of trendy Gyeongnidan-gil, Petit Ballon specializes in authentic French meals. Its eye-catching façade, seemingly plucked straight out of a quaint alley in Paris, intrigues passersby while its tantalizing menu attracts foodies from all over the city. Reservations are a must at this cozy spot, which only boasts a handful of tables in its delightfully decorated, modern Victorian dining room. Groups of five or more can also reserve the private second-floor space for an even more intimate dining experience.
228-1 Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 790 2277
Just as impressive are the complex’s wooden buildings, such as the kitchen house with its seemingly contemporary design of windows, and the villa that was once part of Changdeokgung Palace.
Part café, part gallery, b2project is a haven for both coffee lovers and design aficionados. Here, colorful paintings adorn the walls and quirky lighting fixtures hang from above, while mismatched chairs and tables create a comfortable environment for chatting or reading a book. The gallery downstairs, which features an array of modern Scandinavian furniture, is a feast for the eyes. If you’ve got (a lot of) cash to burn, you can also purchase the wares on display. Pieces start at a whopping one million won (US$1,000).
130-11, Dongsung-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 747 5435
Take Out Drawing
Takeout Drawing is as much a design space as it is a café – so much so that food and drink sales here fund the exhibitions, talks and artist residencies that the café hosts. With its concrete walls, window scribblings, minimal décor, and rotating artworks, Take Out Drawing is the ideal environment for finding inspiration and experiencing the creative process firsthand.
Even the menu items, inspired by past and present works on display, are inventive and playful. The Jindallae Ade, for example, is a refreshing twist on a traditional Korean fruit punch that combines the delicate flavors of azalea petals, lemon, cinnamon, and plum. Paul’s Meringue Factory, meanwhile, is the most Instagram-worthy option; a cup of smooth espresso is topped with peaks of melt-in-your-mouth meringue which is sure to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Dongsung-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 745 9731
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