(From L to R, top to bottom) ART HK 12, Seoul Diagonal Tower by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The Chan-Zuckerbergs, China's War for Talent, Vintage Viet Cong Posters

@The Diplomat reports the Obama Administration has appointed its first Ambassador to Burma. Derek Mitchell, an inside-the-Beltway native, will be America’s ambassador to Burma, the first in 22 years. Or as President Obama put it poetically: “As an iron fist has unclenched in Burma, we have extended our hand.”

@TIME Magazine reports there’s a war for tech and engineering talent taking hold in China. Expect massages, foosball tables and other perks if they really want you.

@Can’t say I didn’t see this one coming. The Korea Times reports a survey of 3,600 people in nine countries shows K-pop Inc. will probably not see lasting success. Too much hypersexual dancing perhaps?

@Art sold well for an impressive swath of galleries represented at the Hong Kong Art Fair (ART HK 12). Even Arario Gallery reported selling an “undisclosed number of smaller pieces, ranging from USD 10,000-50,000.”

@Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan tied the knot at the end of a very eventful week: Chan earned her medical degree, Zuckerberg’s Facebook IPO was the largest in tech history, although it did disappoint a bit by closing 9.5 percent down from its opening price. It’s also something of a fairy tale ending for Mr. Zuckerberg.

@Looking to vacation in Southeast Asia? Know your fruits before you go.

@And if you are Southeast Asia-bound, you might want to rethink fish pedicures.

@On the other hand, if you’re headed to Beijing and looking for some bizarre eats, be sure to get your sneak preview here. (via Fili Nation)

@Are the Norks getting soft? I’m talking about their agreement to release 3 Chinese fishermen, who were detained for 12 days and at one point were held for ransom.

@And for South Korea, Dezeen has done a very nice job of rounding up the future of Seoul’s positively 22nd century skyline.


@Child of the Sixties Forever has a collection of Viet Cong posters from that decade. Which makes me wonder. Will we be looking back at today’s North Korean propaganda with equal bemusement?

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Minsuk Cho | Mass Studies

by Liz on December 19, 2010

in Art & Design,Travel

This post is a tad overdue, as I’ve been meaning to write about Minsuk Cho after hearing him speak at Cooper Union (back in November!) about his architectural firm, Mass Studies. Cho, I recall, was energetic, enthusiastic, and full of firecracker insights about architecture in Asia. His projects were clearly buildings, but I really enjoyed that they also seemed like monuments to conceptual art. And after marveling at the South Korea pavilion in Shanghai in September, I couldn’t wait to learn about Cho’s story: past, present, and future. Here’s what I learned, all valuable lessons:

Bundle Matrix Tower in Seoul

1. Spatial decompression is the new wave. Huh? Yep, it’s all that. But just when I started feeling sheepishly out of place in a hall of black-clad, architecturally omniscient yogis from the hallowed halls of advanced graduate school programs, Cho was kind enough to project pictures of his work. So the Bundle Matrix is the future! Nice work.

Daum Headquarters, Jeju-do

2. Businesses want to be more lateral. Architecturally, that is. That’s a big trend in South Korea right now, Cho confirmed. No more of this hierarchical, CEO-lonely-at-the-top bullshit. We’re all going to sit on the same plane, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Well, not exactly, but we’re certainly getting there.

3. In South Korea, the 2002 World Cup spurred the development of public space. For those of you not in the know, in 2002 the underdog South Korean team advanced to the semi-finals, becoming the first Asian country to achieve that feat. Leading up to the event, throngs of families and college students would gather in major city centers to cheer on the national team dressed in red and — unusual for socially conservative Koreans — share their joys with complete strangers. Or as Cho put it, “The city became a house, and houses began to be conceptualized as cities.”

Details of the South Korea Pavilion, Shanghai Expo

4. This 21st-century intimacy is reflected in the design of the South Korea pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. So I was actually wondering this myself: the pavilion was decorated with colorful hangul tiles by Kang Ik-Joong, with wisps of Korean thoughts (think mundane: boil an egg for a longer period of time, and it peels better) that seemed like something shared between friends over a cup of coffee. Cho, then, had carefully selected how the pavilion looked: he simply wanted it to feel like a cozy, familiar living room, minus maybe the frumpiness.

5. Wait! More on the pavilion. Cho was actually commissioned to design the pavilion at the last minute, and he and his team at Mass Studies scrambled to put together a tolerable design and concept for the Korean government. He managed to pass, literally, with flying colors. To provide a unifying theme to the pavilion, Cho, unlike other masterminds, plucked the hangul as the design centerpiece for the innerwalls, a colorful choice that alluded to the chaotic display of neon signs in cities like Seoul and Busan. Then he cloaked the outer walls of the pavilion in white, the traditional color of clothes of the Korean people, before they were inundated with designer clothing and effectively became slaves of fashion whim.

And on that last note, I’m only half-kidding.


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