“Let’s meet up at the playground”

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event showcased work of top playground designers


What is the similarity between German Designer Günter Beltzig and Korean Artist Pyun Hae-moon? Both of them feature ‘children’ and ‘playgrounds’ in their work.

Günter Beltzig and Pyun Hae-moon both attended “Let’s meet up at the playground!”, an event organized by the World Culture Open Korea as part of its “Better Together” program. The event took place on June 21.

Despite turning 80 this year, the German designer who requests to be known as just Günter, still has the bright spirit of a child.

A furniture designer during his younger days, he became an industrial designer whose work was displayed in museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He was also in charge of product design at Siemens, a German home appliances manufacturer.

However, it wasn’t long before he started to turn his attention to playgrounds. Having lived through the 1968 revolution in Europe, he wanted to make the world a better place.

He said that “even though I couldn’t change the world, I created better possibilities of play for children.”

Artist Pyun Hae-moon is someone who thinks that children come to the world to play. He gained this viewpoint after growing up in the hillside neighborhood of Sadangdong in Seoul.

Sadangdong is now a well-developed area that lies beyond Gwacheon City on the intersection of the subway lines two and four. However, his memories are quite different. He remembers slopes where children would run and play among the alleys of the hillside neighborhood.

He has fond memories of the fun he had, despite the fact that they lacked special play facilities. Those memories helped him become a planner of miracle playgrounds as an adult.

This “Let’s meet up at the playground” event showcased the sketches of Günter and the photographs of children’s lives and playtime that Pyun took over ten years touring Asia and the Middle East.

The event was followed by the “Talking Spoon”, an event at a World Culture Open Korea sharing space where both artists were able to interact with the audience.

In their first meeting, Pyun asked Günter “What do you think a designer is?”, to which Günter answered decisively, “Designers are people who change the world.”

To Pyun, Günter is a teacher who is also a friend. When Pyun was taking photos in the middle east, the region was not as dangerous as it is now. Because of this, he says he worries about the children featured in his photographs. He also talks about the environment that Korean children today live in.

His experience and endurance as an activist can be felt in his closing words, “I think the world is gradually changing, little by little, even now.”

Next it was Günter’s turn to speak. Going right up to the audience and using his whole body to tell his story, Günter talked about his philosophy concerning playgrounds.

“Play is the process of self-learning itself. In fact, don’t adults need playgrounds more than children? Children create their own playgrounds. The act of playing itself is a learning process. It is a process of creating and finding the self. The playground is a space for social contact, for meeting people eye to eye. That is why we should let adults play among adults, and children play among children.”

Looking at his drawings again after listening to him, Günter’s works are now not just sketches on paper but instead come forth as his dreams and the three-dimensional spaces created by children.