City guide: The best art galleries, concept stores and design shops in Seoul, South Korea
First impressions: A gritty old townhouse was repurposed into an open concept café, art gallery and workshop.
Design story: Studio Concrete was started by a group of young creatives who were looking to find their purpose and place in the Korean capital. Here, they curate bold and experimental art from like-minded emerging practitioners, promote capsule collections by young fashion labels and occasionally host some sick parties for their creative community.
Namedrop: Don't even think about it; this space is all about discovering and nurturing the next-big-thing.
First impressions: The homeware porn here will send your Hygge heart racing.
Design story: Short for 'Things We Love', this lifestyle store stocks designer brands, in-house creations as well as those rarified artisanal crafts, all hand-picked by the owners.
Namedrop: Kobo Aizawa utensils, Trendglas JENA glassware and Nikko ceramic
First impressions: This is a one-stop shop for art. Think Takashimaya, but classier.
Design story: The name of this art house is a direct reference to Seoul Auction's democratic ambition of making art as accessible to the public as bread. The prices depend on the size of the limited prints. Although the price would be anywhere from 300,000 to 4 million won, it's still a fraction of the original.
Namedrop: Korean contemporary artists such as Kim Hwan-ki and Park Seo-bo and international names including Murakami Takashi and Yayoi Kusama decorate their walls.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
First impressions: A UFO just landed in the middle of Seoul.
Design story: Designed by the late starchitect, Zaha Hadid, DDP has made its name globally for being the world's largest atypical architecture. It is comprised of five halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park.
Namedrop: The art and design items are just as big-time as its clientele.
Stylenanda Pink Hotel
First impressions: The Korean version of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel hopes you enjoy your stay.
Design story: The store is themed around a '50s-inspired hotel, with six floors of retail, art and cafe. Situated in Myeongdong, its interiors don't entirely look out of place when you're shopping for a new lippy. Whether you're sussing out finds from a laundromat or trying not to make awkward eye contact from across the table in what could have been a swimming pool, don't forget to have some fun, too.
Name drop: Stylenanda's clothes and makeup from 3CE
Queen Mama Market
First impressions: Green, lush and warm — this store's serenity makes it feels like a walk in the park.
Design story: This seven-storey building is a sanctuary for all things home and decor. You can pick up anything from serving plates to dishwashing liquid and scented candles, or simply take a moment to admire their conceptualised store display, which favours wooden crates and draped light fixtures. The cherry on top of the cake — their in-house cafe is located 0n the top floor.
Name drop: Local label Gene Kei sits among a forest of plants such as cacti, poppies and pine trees.
DAS 107 by Kasina
First impressions: If the Secret Service has a vault just for kicks, this will be it.
Design story: Local interior designers Urbantainer saw the humble containers as the main driving force in design, using materials such as ascon for its floors, and custom-made zinc furniture for a 007-esque vibe. Local retailer Kasina has placed it strategically in the youthful Hongdae neighbourhood as well.
Name drop: It's all adidas, baby.
First impressions: This gallery-like space showcases items that look almost for-display-only.
Design story: Peter Marino's the luxury world's go-to guy when it comes to designing flagships or revamps across the globe, and Boontheshop is no exception. A palette of concrete and raw metals gives this concept store a stylish brutalist appearance with some serious retail therapy opportunities.
Name drop: Alexander McQueen, Sacai and Maison Margiela make up just the tip of their stockist.
Hyundai Card Cooking Library
First impressions: You'd want to come home to a space like this.
Design story: London design studio Blacksheep is responsible for this all-in-one destination, which includes a deli, cafe, library and kitchen that bridges together aspects of travel, music, design and cooking. Our hideout choice is within the luxurious, solid end-grain oak of the library that stocks more than 10,000 cookery books.
Street Art in Ihwa Mural Village
First impressions: Playfully joyous paintings revitalise an otherwise small and ordinary village overlooking the beautiful Naksan Park.
Design story: 60 artists were invited to add a splash of colour to this village. Today, the murals attract so many tourists that the once idyllic township is bustling beyond their wildest expectation.