Blacksheep Designs The Cooking Library, Seoul

Blacksheep Designs The Cooking Library, Seoul

Blacksheep has completed work on The Cooking Library in Seoul, for Hyundai Card (HC), one of Korea's largest credit card companies. HC have conceived the Hyundai Card Libraries as a series of four inspirational spaces designed to provide an 'analogue' antidote to the fast pace of city life in the digital age and to stimulate meaningful and inspiring experiences in everyday life. Each of the Libraries touches on the refined knowledge of various lifestyles, covering realms of Travel, Music, Design and Cooking.

Working in collaboration with Choi Wook of One O One Architects, Blacksheep were commissioned to bring the Hyundai Card Cooking Library to life as the last and most ambitious chapter in the series. Blacksheep created the complete guest experience from interior design through to branding, staff uniforms and packaging. The Cooking Library creates real-world experiences that unfold as you navigate the space to explore the universe of cooking and food.

The design brief challenged Blacksheep to create a connected experience over five-floors of the Library that celebrates and brings to life the joys of cooking in Yeongdeungpo-gu, one of Seoul's most affluent neighbourhoods.


Blacksheep worked to create an inspiring world where craftsmanship provides fundamental luxury, tactility invites human touch, and analogue detailing allows visitors to get lost in the romance of time. The Blacksheep design team envisaged a humble factory setting on the outskirts of Europe and translated that into a food laboratory in the heart of Seoul. It has specified an array of high-quality products from leading European furniture and lighting brands to bring the concept to life and enrich the experience for all HC Cooking Library visitors.

The inner spaces of the HC Cooking Library have been designed to connect organically over five floors. Each space is distinguished by the experiences offered within and is linked to the next space through stimulation of the senses, by scent, sound and sight. Materiality takes on design characteristics of the level in which it belongs and visitors are guided by subtle cues running through the Library.

Deli, Shop, Bakery and Café

The ground floor is home to a deli, shop, bakery and café, all open to HC card members and the general public. Designed as the first taste of the Library's culinary experiences and dedicated to food, visitors are drawn in through the sensory displays of artisan bread and patisseries in the deli, by European herbs, spices, cheese and charcuterie in the shop, by exotic baked goods in the bakery, including Portuguese Barco, and fresh coffee in the café.

The ground floor is defined by a sense of practicality and function. On entering, visitors are met by the cleanse ritual delivered through a traditional cast iron water hand pump, with a cast concrete bowl and brass plinth. In solid brass lettering above the station, is a lettered display - Through water came life through life came love.

Behaving like a factory workshop floor, this is an open and active space, alive with productivity and people making and enjoying food. Guests are invited to explore and become immersed in the various self-service and retail elements.

The floor is covered by locally-sourced, hard-wearing stone in a herringbone pattern reflecting the style of a European factory courtyard. This is contrasted with polished concrete flooring which is introduced as visitors move deeper into the space towards a communal dining area. These materials and open shelving showcasing traditional Korean kitchen tools, emphasise the industrial nature of this part of the Library.

A striking Calacatta marble-clad counter serves as a coffee station where people can gather. There are four Afteroom bar stools from Menu, adding an elegant Scandinavian complement to the overall factory feel. A feature Michael Anastassiades pendant light over the coffee counter provides a dramatic focal point and highlights the experience.

The linear cast concrete communal dining table is surrounded with solid oak Mattiazi Solo chairs designed by Nitzan Cohen, and set against a backdrop of delft tiles from the Netherlands depicting a European countryside landscape. The design of the dining table prompts guests to sit down together, heightening the sense of domesticity. It also provides a clear vantage point into all the action of the Bakery.

Further seating illuminated by brass pendant lights from Swedish brand Pholc, is positioned to the side of the bakery. A Corten steel band that will naturally patina over time, wraps the beams, differentiating height within the space and acting as a visual contrast to the polished grey plaster walls.

In contrast to the shades of grey found on the floors and walls, oak joinery warms the space and is used to create storage units behind the coffee counter. An old oak workshop bench sourced by Blacksheep from the UK is used to display the selection of artisan breads.

The ground floor space has been flexibly designed and can be reconfigured for special events, such as guest chef appearances.

The Library

The Library on the first floor is an analogue playground dedicated to the discovery of books and exploring cooking ingredients. It is a calm and thoughtful place where intuitive design and playful gestures encourage guests to navigate a vast collection of more than 10,000 cookery books.

Each book in the Library has been carefully selected by HC to stimulate incredible cooking experiences, offering inspiring, reliable, practical, flavorful and timeless information. The books in this library cover eleven categories and almost 50 sub-categories.

Blacksheep worked with British timber supplier, Broadleaf to source solid oak endgrain timber reminiscent of a butcher's block, to reference the cooking experience and add a warm and natural aesthetic.

Blacksheep worked with terrazzo specialists, Diespeker to source the cast terrazzo that forms the bespoke table within this space. The table was constructed in Korea and adjustable, analogue lighting from Luceplan was integrated to achieve the precise finish Blacksheep desired.

The lighting scheme in this area is enhanced further by a series of Michael Anastassiades Tip of the Tongue table lamps, which appear on mid-height shelving areas throughout the space. All the bespoke shelving in The Library is made from blackened steel, complemented with brass and perforated metal detailing.

Natural hide 1087 chairs from Italian furniture brand Kristalia were selected by Blacksheep for their crafted qualities and timeless aesthetic and the fact that they will change in colour and texture as the leather ages over time as the space evolves.

Other furniture in the space includes the Gubi beetle lounge chair and the Gubi ts side tables that are positioned overlooking the mezzanine area.

Ingredients House

The first floor also houses the 'Ingredients House' a dramatic display of hundreds of ingredients from around the world including rice bran oil, annatto and myrtle. It is a curated and insightful display system that celebrates crafted luxury and encourages visitors to explore the archive and experiment with its ingredients.

Blacksheep designed the Ingredients House in collaboration with One o One Architects. Materials used include a polished concrete floor with inset brass detailing, while timber and cork is used for the placement of ingredients. Solid Oak Skagerak George stools with olive leather seat pads are placed in the room to allow the visitor to spend time within the space.

The Kitchen

The Kitchen on level three is where the concept of cooking comes to life, celebrating human involvement in the cooking experience and embracing domestic approaches to the culinary arts.

The space is a forum for an array of experiences and activities, from insightful cooking lessons led by industry professionals, to the 'Recipe Room' where guests can collaborate on recipes. The space can also be used to host to cook book signings, lectures and social gatherings based around a love of food.

The kitchen, with its resin floor, silver emperador marble countertops and bespoke kitchen cabinets with blackened steel drawer fronts, takes inspiration from the functional qualities of an industrial kitchen. Blacksheep sourced all tap fittings from The Watermark Collection, to create tactile analogue detailing.

The Recipe Room

In the Recipe Room, crafted, low-level domestic lighting and a herringbone pattern wooden floor provides a sense of domestic familiarity. A Tribeca Harrison chandelier from Menu sits above the &tradition Raft table and hand sewn leather chairs by Gemla, are covered in leather from the oldest leather factory in Sweden. Domestic accessories such as weighing scales and Max Lamb for 1882 basalt accessories are placed on solid oak shelving, to break up the display of books.

The Greenhouse

Adjacent to the Kitchen, an architectural, glass-framed canopy creates 'The Greenhouse,' Blacksheep conceived the idea for this space as an outdoor/indoor dining environment. Vibrant terracotta paving is laid in a stacked herringbone pattern and contrasts with tactile woven outdoor furniture, while a lush adjacent allotment provides a supply of plants to feed the HC Cooking Library with seasonal ingredients.

A 1700mm-diameter linen feature pendant light from AY Illuminate hangs over a long cast concrete table. In addition to the design of the space, Blacksheep also sourced the planting for The Greenhouse, including an orange tree and a selection of herbs used in cooking. An outdoor pizza oven and barbecue complement the experience, taking styling inspiration from a garden shed to inform the look and feel of the area and provide a structure for hanging gardening equipment. Bespoke terrazzo flooring features throughout the interior cooking area.

The Basement

The kitchen space on the basement floor is an inspiring pantry of abundance, offering insight into a working kitchen encased by Crittle reeded glass panels. The space also includes oversized wine displays to the rear wall of the storeroom, formed from a layered pattern of copper, blackened steel and perforated panels. White tiles sourced from British tile supplier Grestec clad the kitchen interior and contrast with grey polished plaster walls.

All levels of the HC Cooking Library have factory-inspired blackened steel sanitary ware and specially commissioned artwork by British artist, David Shrigley. Blacksheep was drawn to the dry satirical nature of Shrigley's work and felt it would translate very well in a scheme that is all about human touch and a sense of the analogue. Blacksheep challenged Shrigley to create five works that respond to the surroundings of the Library and reflect the HC Cooking Library experience. These include phallic bronze sculptures set behind glazed walls in the basement toilets.


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