Seoul, South Korea – ‘I love Korea, I love cars, and I love OMA,’ declared former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenende at the inauguration of the Hyundai Motor Company’s Genesis dealership in Gangnam. The rather throwaway statement by Balkenende actually encapsulates the intersection of factors in the concept of the prototype showroom, as OMA / AMO reinterprets the relationship between the people in the space and the cars for the commercially oversaturated context.
OMA / AMO and Hyundai present Genesis Gangnam as an exhibition space that facilitates the relationship between buyer and object through gradual, personal discovery. Unlike the stark, cold and shiny archetype of car salesrooms, OMA emphasizes the beauty and appreciation of the car as an objet d’art and the connection the visitor has with it. Through the entirely glass façade, only slivers of the cars can be seen as glimpses between concrete walls. Even upon entering, the cars are seductively placed throughout the meandering setting, inviting a more intimate approach before a car can be seen in its entirety.
As partner and director of OMA Asia Chris van Duijn says, ‘We created an environment that tells more about the car and the Genesis brand than any logo, poster or LED display would be able to. The space is dominated by the total absence of any traditional marketing tool: no clutter, no distraction.’ The brand identity is instead illustrated in statements expressed on planes of concrete. In a powerful combination on the ground floor, one statement reads Thinking ahead and moving forward where the piece of wall ends, revealing one half of a car. This curatorial approach to spatial design as a three-dimensional poster places greater visual weight on the brand identity of the wall than of the product itself. It’s a confident gesture where an abstract philosophy is equal to form.
Throughout the showroom, the concrete continues to carve into the space. Boldly monochromatic, three-walled sections of concrete become concentrated areas for the exploration of the Genesis design options and features, and as permissive settings between buyer and seller. These ‘rooms’ contain sitting areas as well as functional displays of colour and material swatches.