When we hear about North Korea it’s usually something about widespread oppression, their crazy supreme leader, or that unfinished mega-hotel. What we don’t hear about is the country’s oddly cheery design sense and absolute devotion to pastel colors.
This unique aesthetic is what London-based architecture critic Oliver Wainwright found when he toured the country. He noted that the meticulously arranged interiors resembled sets from a delightfully quirky Wes Anderson film. As he wrote in a piece for The Guardian:
“In every refurbished building we visit, there is a peculiarly consistent style of preschool colour schemes and shiny synthetic surfaces, the pastel palettes and axial symmetry giving an eerie feeling of walking into a Wes Anderson film set, or a life-size Polly Pocket toy… kindergarten kitsch is the logical next step for a regime intent on projecting an image of carefree prosperity. It is architecture as anaesthetic, a powerful tool for the state to infantilise its people.”
How did North Korea come to such a design sense? None other than Kim Jong-il detailed those principles in a 160-page treatise On Architecture, published in 1991.
“The basic condition for harmonizing all the city’s architectural space is the focus on the leader’s statue and ensuring that the statue plays the leading role in the architectural formation of the city,” Jong-il writes.
Thus the country’s cult of personality is found not just in its towering statues or mass gatherings but in the design of its architecture too.
See more of Oliver Wainwright’s design exploration on his personal Tumblr, North Korean Interiors, and check out the images below.
(via Boing Boing)
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