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Reinterpreting tradition with new furniture for modern lifestyle

Yeol, the Korean Heritage Preservation Society, is holding an exhibition that looks into traditional Korean culture, in conjunction with designer Teo Yang.

Yang is a celebrated interior designer who creates modern space designs based on inspiration from traditional Korean culture.

Furniture designed by Teo Yang (Yeol)
Furniture designed by Teo Yang (Yeol)
Pieces of furniture designed by Teo Yang are displayed at Yeol Bukchonga in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)
Pieces of furniture designed by Teo Yang are displayed at Yeol Bukchonga in central Seoul. (Im Eun-byel / The Korea Herald)

For the exhibition, Yang reinterpreted the concept of “sarangbang,” a room serving as a man’s quarters in hanok, or traditional Korean houses.

According to Yang, sarangbang is more than just a sitting room for receiving guests; it is where a person spends time, educates himself, develops interests and enjoys the arts.

“These days, people take things lightly. They search for new things, avoiding things from the past. When one is serious or tries to share an interest in tradition, we laugh at the person,” Yang said at a press preview event Tuesday. “I, personally, appreciate tradition, things from the past.”

“Everyone should have one’s own sarangbang. But I am not just limiting the concept to a certain space. Sarangbang can be everywhere, as long as one can cultivate oneself,” he said.

Highlighting sarangbang’s function as a place for studying, Yang designed a wooden chair. The wide armrest on the left side, inspired by “soban,” a tray-like low table, allows the user to put down a book or a laptop.

“Actually, this chair is what I wanted to have for myself,” Yang said in explaining the design process.

Two standing lamp pieces were inspired by traditional candlesticks. The bronze lamps warmly light up the space, creating a refined atmosphere.

A desk on display, though inspired by traditional furniture, is adapted for modern-day use with a power socket and two USB charging outlets.

Traditionally, sarangbang was a space exclusively limited to men of high status. To embrace all kinds of people, the designer created a media artwork that recorded a song sung by a female “sorikkun,” a traditional singer.

The exhibition at Yeol Bukchonga in the Bukchon area of Seoul continues through March 14. It is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. After the exhibition, the displayed furniture will be available for sale.

By Im Eun-byel(