Korean Dining Objet
One thing I had planned to do before going to Korea earlier this year was to buy some proper dishes for Korean food. I cannot say I eat as much Korean food as other Koreans do, but I certainly crave for a genuine Korean dinner sometimes, and it’s the time when I know that I need a pretty set of rice bowls, soup bowls, and plates for side dishes. Since a plenty of side dishes are put onto a Korean table along with rice and soup, however, there were innumerable types of tableware on the market. I realised it would be physically and financially too much if I try to equip my kitchen with every style and type.
Therefore, I first had to choose one style among many available options from traditional white porcelains to earthy rough texture. Then, I needed to know what kind of food I usually ate, what food would be served, to decide what items I would buy.
After reviewing and narrowing down my wish list, I finally decided to go for a Koreanish but also modern style. I wanted to buy things that would go with other kinds of food as well as Korean food to make the most of them. Also, I preferred what could only be purchased in Korea. In that sense, footed bowls and Korean lacquered trays were essential.
There are numberless porcelain workshops, galleries, and shops even within Seoul, but I would like to introduce my favorite places to shop tableware that deserve your time and visit, where I visited myself, too.
The first one I visited was SEUNGMINJI POTTERY (지승민의 공기).
This place, which has received a lot of attention on my Instagram, offers modern tableware with an oriental mood. Influenced by Joseon Dynasty’s white porcelain, it is characterised by maximal simplification, the deep and calm texture of glaze, and a warm tone of colors, creating a cosy atmosphere. With the kind of design that you would choose for basic items with no worries about getting bored, it gets more and more impressive over time.
I purchased four sets of footed and rounded soup and rice bowls in oatmeal and grey colors. The footed bowls with a beautiful profile can also be used as ice cream bowls. You kill two birds with one stone. Promising myself that I would buy a cylinder-shaped bowl in beautiful deep navy color next time, I finished my shopping in the first place.
The next place was Roh02’s Tableware (Roh02's 그릇) owned by a food stylist and chef Roh Young Hee.
I had long kept in mind one of their products, the elegant footed dessert plate with high aesthetic value by an artist, Changhwa Lee , and I finally got to buy it. It is perfect for desserts such as a dried persimmon, mochi, and fruits, or a small amount of side dish.
Then I headed for the long-awaited choeunsook art&lifestyle gallery (조은숙 갤러리).
In fact, I assume that the heart of this tableware shopping was the lacquered tray made by Myoungwook Huh. I was determined to buy this tray despite its price as it had been on my wish list for so long, but it wasn’t easy to pick colors because all the colors were beautiful. Though I wanted to try the intense colors of red, green, and so on, I was not sure if they would fit in my living room-cum-dining room which there was blue already. Finally, I settled on black and an intense color I could accept, yellow, which would match with the wood materials. As soon as I got home, the first thing I did was unwrapping the trays on the table. How satisfied I was to see the perfect harmony of their colors and the room! I am recognising the power of these trays that turn a usual meal into a gratifying one.
The last destination was SIKIJANG (정소영의 식기장).
Unfortunately, I can’t show you how the place looked because taking photography was banned, but this shop crammed with various kinds of tableware is where time just flies by once you get in. I visited this place to buy a Buncheong bowl made by Sangwook Huh. Buncheong ware is a unique form of traditional Korean stoneware, which takes on a grayish-green color on the body after glazing and firing, overlaid with white through the application of white-clay slip. There are a variety of different techniques to make Buncheong ceramics. The small bowls I bought had been made through the Guiyal technique in particular, which leaves on the pottery the brushstrokes that occur when applying white clay. Though these white bowls are simple and small, the brushstrokes add some specialness to them. I also found some black bowls with a rough texture by chance, which not only looked great but also seemed to be usable in many ways. I hope I would buy these more next time I come.
All places except SEUNGMINJI POTTERY are within walking distance of each other, so they are well worth a visit.
There are a few more recommendations outside this shopping list – h’soban (화소반) and Dadam Ceramics (다담세라믹스), both of which make beautiful tableware with earthy textures. Inspired by the photos on Instagram, I dream of having a rustic table one day to enliven those bowls and plates.
SEUNGMINJI POTTERY (지승민의 공기) _ 22, Hannam-daero 40-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Roh02's Tableware (Roh02's 그릇) _ 6, Samseong-ro 126-gil, Seoul, South Korea
choeunsook art&lifestyle gallery (조은숙 갤러리) _ 37, Apgujeong-ro 80-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
SIKIJANG (정소영의 식기장) _ 751, Samseong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea