Online Platform as a center for Seoul Design

  • Kim Hyunsuk

Re-connect: Design as a value creator 


The boundaries are becoming blurry. The restriction of time and space and the limit of subjects no longer apply when solving common problems and creating new value. Nowadays, various subjects, including online and offline environments, virtual and real worlds, industrial and public domains, and city governments and citizens, are preparing for the future in different areas. The new dimension of energy manifested from combinations that jump over the boundaries is a catalyst to solve daily problems and solidify the city that provides the base for everyday life.

The SMG speaks of “design” as the essential means to empower everyday life and the city’s competitiveness. As a part of it, the SMG hosted annual international forums to seek ways for development by sharing innovative designs that reflect the demand of the time. The forum has moved its stage to the online environment this year. The 2021 Seoul Design International Forum (SDIF) will be held on Tuesday, October 5 with the theme of “Re-connect: Design as a Value Creator.” The forum will be streamed live for the first time on an online platform that will play a pivotal role in discussing the designs of Seoul in the future. On this platform, participants can search and find data from the previous 11 international forums held in the past eight years, as well as information about speakers at the forum, using hashtags related to public design.


“2020 Seoul Design International Forum” Scene

This year’s forum is even more special as the Working Group jointly planned and operated the forum with the SMG. We listened to the detailed story about the forum from Professor Kim Hyun-suk at Hongik University, who participated the SDIF as a General Planning Master Planner (MP).

What is the reason that the “Seoul International Seminar on Universal Design” and the “Social Problem-Solving Design International Forum” were combined into a single format this year?

It has been about 15 years since the SMG began to use designs as important tools to embody urban policies. We thought it would be extremely important to look back at the past changes and define what “Seoul design” means and what its visions and goals are at this point. In this context, we needed to reorganize our directions in order to discuss the visions and goals pursued by Seoul design at this forum. In addition, we came up with a single format to summarize and archive the content that had been discussed at previous forums and seminars. It was yet another step toward a platform that enables continuous discussions instead of a one-time event. 

How was the Working Group organized to plan out the forum with the SMG?

All the MPs who were in charge of preparing for and conducting previous forums and seminars were invited to the Working Group. I became the General Planning MP of the 2021 SDIF based on the experience of preparing for the 2015 International Design Congress and many other international academic events and forums and taking charge of the panel session at the 2018 Social Problem-Solving Design International Forum.

This year, the forum is being streamed live on the “online platform” for the first time.

I expect the SDIF to become an online platform where we can continue to discuss and share design information instead of being a one-time event. We are currently building a website for the forum. It may be difficult to record everything from previous forums and seminars because of copyright issues, but we will continue to archive discussions related to Seoul design that took place since 2014. We also have a plan to provide the thoughts and opinions of experts at home and abroad as content.

The topic of this year’s forum is “Re-connect: Design as a Value Creator.” What was the reason for selecting this topic?

The key to this topic is “connection.” This means that we connect previous forums with today’s forum while connecting keywords that are at the antipode through design. This topic shows our concerns on how to approach and solve various social issues in Korea and overseas arising from global crises such as pandemics and in what ways we can make cities more attractive by providing a new dimension of experience to citizens.

What are your expectations about the future forums?

This forum is a process of experimenting and preparing for the online platform. I expect the forum to provide an opportunity and the space to share and spread diverse thoughts and opinions by connecting civil society with the city government, experts with the general public, and Seoul with other international cities.

Session 3 of 2021 Seoul Design International Forum introduced by Professor Kim Hyun-suk at Hongik University

Keynote session: Vision and Strategy


Oh, Se-Hoon Mayor of SMG, Richard Van der Laken, Mariano Alesandro, Sinclair Dale

The keynote session is “Vision and Strategy.” After the keynote session on “City Design as Investment in the Future” presented by Mayor Oh Se-hoon, three speakers from overseas will each give a presentation. Oh Se-hoon, the mayor of Seoul, pays attention to the value-creating function of design as the core means to increase the city’s competitiveness. He will discuss the importance of strategically using design to solve daily problems, strengthen tolerance, and improve the attractiveness of the city. Richard van der Laken has been discussing the roles played and the values provided by design regarding various social issues through a Dutch platform called What Design Can Do, which is similar to the Seoul Design International Forum. In addition, Mariano Alesandro of The Index Project, operated based on the slogan of “Design to Improve Life,” will talk about the changes in the surrounding environment and society caused by design and the effects of designers’ choices on the world. Whereas the cases of The Index Project and What Design Can Do discuss the vision and strategy for change through practical design, Dale Sinclair of AECOM will be speaking on changes to be made by digital technologies and data. As the online environment has become the primary domain of people’s lives, analysis and use of data can present a new strategic viewpoint to be pursued by design.

Session 1: Issues and Discussion


Professor Yoon Hye-gyoung at Yonsei University,  Professor Koo Yoo-ri at Hongik University, Director of Design Policy Division SMG

The topic of the second session is “Issues and Discussion.” In this session, Professor Yoon Hye-gyoung at Yonsei University and Professor Koo Yoo-ri at Hongik University, former MPs at the Seoul International Seminar on Universal Design and the Social Problem-Solving Design International Forum, will cover all major matters discussed from the previous seminars and forums. We expect them to talk about the issues and discussion in the fields of universal design and social problem-solving design discussed at the previous forums and seminars, how such discussions and cases ended up creating systems, and insight into the meaning of such issues and discussion. In this session, Lee Hye-young, the Director of Design Policy Division of SMG, will be presenting the strategic value of designs implemented by Seoul to widen the experience of citizens. Through this session, we look forward to providing the important meaning and vision of previous discussions and cases for the present time instead of remaining in the past.

Session 2: Practical Plans


Hwang Sung-Gul Head of CX Lab of LG Electronics, Lee Si Wan CEO of LBS Tech, Professor Kim Sangkyun at Kangwon National University

Hwang Sung-gul, the Head of CX (Customer eXperience) Lab of LG Electronics, will present on the topic of “Absolute Value of Design and Innovation — Thinking Beyong Competitiveness.” Hwang is leading the design organization at LG Electronics after working on service design and product design as a professor at Hongik University. Through his presentation, we expect to understand how design strategies of companies are changing and seek the possibility of a connection between the public and private sectors through insight into how changes are made. Lee Si-wan, the CEO of LBS Tech, is in charge of the second presentation of this session. CEO Lee strives to develop services for the socially disadvantaged, such as persons with disabilities. We expect his presentation to bring up more discussions about the evolution of methodologies for solving various social problems. The last presentation of this forum will be on “Metaverse Dreams of a Shared, Connected, and Extended City” by Professor Kim Sang-kyun (Kangwon National University) who is a metaverse expert. We can perhaps listen to the professor’s thoughts on changes that will be brought forth by the connection of cities and people and digital and physical worlds, paying attention to the metaverse, which has become one of the trendiest topics of the year.

The 2021 SDIF will be held online, and everyone interested in design can watch the forum by connecting to the online platform ( A program book file describing the presentations of speakers will be sent via email to those who pre-register until October 4 and connect to the website to watch the forum. Videos will also be uploaded on the online platform, and a booklet will be published later to share the event with more people.

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