It was the my very first weekend in Seoul when I decided to participate a Finnish Your Dinner -event held by a Finnish-Norwegian couple in Dongdaemun-gu. Sometimes it really pays off to go to random places and hang out with people you never met before. The host couple Milla Niskakoski and Erlend Storsul Opdahl turned out to be fantastic and inspiring people running their own design startup, Almond Studio, together with a Korean colleague Jo Shua. I kindly asked and they promised to show me around at their office one day.
I have visited several startup hubs around the world, and Seoul Global Startup Center shares some very common characteristics with them. It is located a little bit outside the heat of the city center in a more industrial area that used to be filled with small electronics shops. All the small offices have been named after major cities in the world. Almond Studio team for example is staying in Moscow. :D In the common area you can find some open space and a coffee bar, of course.
Seoul is probably not so well known for startups but it for sure has great potential. There is a lot of production going on in the city and around it so prototyping new products is agile - fast and less costly compared to working with a manufacturer located further away and possibly even in another country. Milla tells that it is one of the main reasons why Seoul is an optimal place for their business right now.
Almond Studio does a bunch of design for other companies. For example these can etiquettes designed for a take-away beer company (yes, take-away beer is legal here!) became a small hit on social media:
In the future, the creative team wants to release more of their own products. I had the privilege to see some of the things they are working on and I have to say they have real potential to become modern design classics. The style of the studio is a manifestation of the combination of Nordic and South-Korean cultures. Their designs are very functional, smart and playful and there is something very unique and timeless in the ideas and forms. So far they have published their first product under trademark Kerorek, this lovely minimalist backpack.
Always truly inspiring to meet creative minds that make their ideas happen. Hope to hear more about Almond Studio in the future. <3 What do you think about their designs? Leave a comment!
More about Almond Studio: