Being influenced by the design culture in SUTD, I didn’t want to be a run-of-the-mill tourist: plainly obsessing over the glitzy Kpop culture or the mouth-watering Korean food. I wanted to observe the details of my new environment and make sense of how they design their space.

Toliet Door Lock

Recall how toilets often have signs reminding users to remember to take their valuables along when they leave the toilet? This toilet in Gimhae International Airport takes it up a notch and builds it into the design of the toilet door lock.

The toilet door lock has a shelf-like contraption that allows users to place their wallets and phones there while using the toilet. In order to get out, the user has to lift the shelf and thus remembering to bring their valuables along in the process.

I was greatly impressed by the simplicity and practicality of this design that I had to document it down!

Posture Guiding Furniture

The 50/70 rule is about maintaining appropriate eye contact: 50 percent of the time while speaking and 70% of the time while listening. This helps to display interest and confidence.

However, even for an outgoing person like me, extended periods of eye contact is plain awkward.

This was the reason why I was impressed by this chair and table setup that I discovered in a cafe in the Jeju Museum of Art.

The chair is designed to slant the user 45 degrees to the table and thus, to the other user. This creates a natural posture for the user to be not directly facing the other user. Hence, one can turn slightly to make eye contact for brief periods and withdraw back to the equilibrium position to relax.

Cute Reserved Seats

An observation that I have made in Korea is that they avoid the reserved seats like the plague (unless they’re the target audience, of course), whereas in Singapore, people just sit on them unless they see someone who needs it more. I saw this really cute plushie placed on a reserved seat in a train cabin.

It is a very cute way to reserve the seat for people who need them and is just something that I have not seen anywhere before.

I think it employs the power of defaults: if the default setting is that the seat is “occupied” by a plushie, it discourages non-pregnant people from sitting there.

Thoughtful Utensils

While gorging on the grilled black pork and abalone fried rice in Seogwipo Market, Jeju Island, I appreciated how the design of the spoon goes beyond the base function of a spoon, which is to shovel food into our mouths, but also thinks of of the whole process of eating. There is a toothpick incorporated into the handle of the spoon, which allows for users to easily clean their teeth after a meal. I didn’t use it but I liked how the design is thoughtful and practical!

Colorful Campaigns

Despite the colourful vape and cigarette advertisements in Korea, the anti-smoking advertisements are colourful as well.

This cigarette pack uses the bent and extinguished end of a cigarette to illustrate how smoking can lead to erectile dysfunction in a simple but powerful visual.

Bonus: common problem in SUTD and perhaps, around the world!

To end this post, I chose a design that hits closer to home. This was in the laundry room of a hotel near Busan KTX station.

The washing machines and dryers have a small whiteboard area for users to write down their room numbers so that the staff can remove the finished laundry if users do not remove it in time.

I guess the bad habit of not picking up your laundry when its done is worldwide, not just in SUTD! This really reminded me of the times in SUTD when users do not remove their laundry timely and that really was a nuisance that seemed to have no solution but to call out the anonymous person in the SUTD Family Telegram group chat.

I feel that incorporating something like making it mandatory to put down your phone number in order to use the dryer/washing machine in the hostel would be greatly appreciated by hostel residents!

That’s it for the interesting designs I’ve seen in Korea! Next stop, my “Best of Korean Food” compilation!

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