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Keun Hye Lee

Published date
29 May 2019

Developing space design through ‘smart’ materials: How everyday repetition reflects on space design within a Korean contemporary context

Chelsea College of Arts

The notion of 'everyday life' is theorised in the twentieth century, with various attempts to conceptualise everyday practices as a dynamic and contested sphere engaging the body (Lefebvre, 1984; Benneth, 2006; de Certeau, 1984)

Some theorists, including Lefebvre (1987), focus on the significance of ‘repetition’ in everyday life, stating that the cyclical structure of everyday life is its quintessential feature.

This concern with theorising the everyday ritual is at odds with the culture of Korea, where I am from. In Korea, contemporary designs seldom respect ‘ordinariness’ or ‘age value’. This marginalisation of traditional practices of space use is the consequence of an intricate history during the last century. However, in recent years, some designers have begun to approach critical notions of ‘everyday life’,  such as Youngbum Ma’s integrating of local traditional crafts into a contemporary interior design. At this critical point, research that analyses cultural space use and articulates conflicting notions of daily life has the potential to inform this cultural revaluation of everydayness within a Korean design field.

This practice-based research aims to investigate the relationship between trace and routine activity in the rituals of ‘everyday life’, focusing upon a Korean context. The aim is to develop an interior spatial practice that reveals ritual repetition through the use of interactive technology and ’smart’ materials.

The research will adopt methodologies taken from cultural theorists of the everyday. While this will provide a theoretical framework, the practice-based research will investigate contemporary uses of the trace in craft and product design, applying this to an architectural situation. The aim is to develop spatial proposals, for a Korean context, which provoke and document communication between people and space, focusing on ideas of repetition, home and habit. The mapping of mundane actions of the everyday will be conceived as a kind of performance, and I will categorise these ordinary repetitive patterns. Interactive and smart technologies, often used for effect, can potentially utilise the trace as a design resource producing immediate changes in a reversible way. The technologically enhanced floor has a particular potential to act a trace of repetitive activities, where the divisions between architecture and craft product are blurred.


Dr. Ken Wilder

Dr. Linda Sandino

Dr. Yuko Kikuchi