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While most parts of the world are still in a tight pandemic stranglehold, the retail scene in Seoul is bouncing back, seeing major store openings indicative of its resilience. One of the latest openings to behold is that of The Hyundai Seoul, a new and contemporary retail concept of Hyundai Department Store, one of South Korea‘s leading store chains in the upper segment. The Hyundai Seoul is an expansive affair, occupying no less than 89,100 sqm. (959,064 sq.ft.) across a total of 15 floors – mind you, there are seven subterranean floors and eight floors above ground – of a standalone structure at Parc.1, a newly built mixed-use complex by acclaimed British architecture practice Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Located in Yeongdeungpo, a business and residential district alongside Han River, the complex comprises two soaring office towers facing West, the luxury 326-room Fairmount Ambassador Seoul hotel at the Eastern end, and in between, as if anchoring the entire site, The Hyundai Seoul is situated. Needless to say, the project has given this largely business and to a lesser extent residential area of town an unprecedented impetus as a new shopping and leisure destination.

As said, The Hyundai Seoul is a new store concept, and as such, it features a lot of innovative firsts. Targeting a young demographic, or more specifically Millennials and Generation Z, the premises obviously aim to appeal to their savvy mindset. The chosen retail concept fully embraces ‘nature’, offering city dwellers a place where to shop and wind down amidst lush greens at the same time. As a result the department store has dedicated almost half of its space to indoor landscaping, most notably Sounds Forest, a triple-height indoor park dotted with no less than 30 trees, flower plants and grasses where to meet up or relax in between shopping sprees. The standalone structure housing The Hyundai Seoul has been designed to allow natural light permeate all floors above ground, adding up to the sense of being in touch with nature. Another major feature which boldly signals the theme is the large Waterfall Garden on the ground floor, featuring a 12-metre (39 ft.) waterfall. As today’s youth have a multitude of interests and eclectic mindset, culture is seen as essential common ground, and as such, art gallery ALT.1 can be found on the sixth floor, featuring an inaugural show with a series of iconic works by the legendary Andy Warhol, in addition to CH 1985, a cultural centre, and no less than two fine dining spots.

The Hyundai Seoul is home to over 600 brands from home and abroad, straddling the premium and high-end fashion segments. Upon entering the premises, shoppers are met with luxury brands in full force, featuring collections by leading fashion houses such as Prada, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Burberry and Gucci, while more are expected to be added soon. Also to be found here are 30 domestic and international cosmetic brands. One floor up, a mix of contemporary international fashion labels and luxury footwear can be found, including Lemaire, Jimmy Choo, Tom Greyhound, Kenzo, Juun.J, Manolo Blahnik and Linda Farrow, in addition to renowned lifestyle brands, such as Bamford, a British premium spa brand and Italian barber shop Barberino’s. The third and fourth floors are similarly brimming with curated fashion for both sexes, bags and also furniture and bedding. Flanking the indoor park on the fifth floor are a number of shops dedicated to kids. And for shoppers who can’t get enough of fashion, there’s more to be had below ground on level B2 where a curated mix of young niche labels and sportswear brands from home and abroad have set up shop, including Nike, thisisneverthat, sneaker reseller BGZT Lab, and the first Asian outpost of Stockholm-based brand ARKET.

Shopping and food go hand in hand, and nowhere like in the Far East. At 14,820 sqm. (159,521 sq.ft.), level B1 is a true food walhalla, and the biggest of its kind in the country, featuring no less than 90 different food and beverage venues, including ones of reputable gourmet restaurants. Unsurprisingly, The Hyundai Seoul is infused with tech innovations, and the most notable ones for shoppers include the deployment of a guide robot and a safety robot, a special app to make restaurant reservations and check parking space, in addition to the fully automated Uncommon Store, a well-stocked lifestyle emporium, up on the sixth floor. Given the current pandemic, nifty tech has also been applied to maintain safe shopping. So-called multi-recognition heating checkers which are used in airports have been installed at all entrances while portable thermal imaging cameras and facial recognition heat checkers are installed at indoor entrances. Also, air sterilisers can be found at major customer facilities to enhance air circulation in the store, and quite interestingly, all door handles have been covered by a thin layer of 99.9% pure copper which has excellent sterilisation and anti-viral effects. Indeed, shopping at The Hyundai Seoul is meant to be carefree and fun.

Images © Hyundai Department Store
Photography: Kiwoong Hong – The Parc.1 complex

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