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Tabletops: Chaekgado

Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber
Apple Myeongdong
Apple Myeongdong will open soon in Seoul and become South Korea’s third and largest Apple Store. Apple customers in South Korea have a distinct, tireless enthusiasm for the stores, so I’m anticipating a grand opening packed with energy.
Via Apple
Via Apple
Publications in Seoul have noted that the illustrations covering the store windows and decorating Apple’s website are inspired by chaekgeori (책거리), a traditional Korean art style. This specific subgenre of chaekgeori featuring bookshelves is known as chaekgado (책가도).
Via Apple
Via Apple
During Korea’s Joseon period, artists created still-life paintings celebrating books and scholarly objects as vehicles of change in society. These paintings were often designed to fill paneled screens.
A late 1800s example of chaekgado via the Spencer Museum of Art
A late 1800s example of chaekgado via the Spencer Museum of Art
The International Institute for Asian Studies has a great article with more information, history, and examples of the intricate art style.
One can say that chaekgeori paintings not only have the ability to teach and inspire, but they also possess the power to shape the values of a society.
On corporate art commissions
Now is as good a time as any to discuss the crisis of authenticity surrounding art commissioned by large corporations. You and I both know that when Apple partners with local artists on campaigns for new stores, it does so because making tools for creative people is in Apple’s DNA. The iPad and Mac wouldn’t exist without artists, and collaborations are an expression of Apple’s values.
This may no longer be enough. In the era of quick hits on social media, large companies with nebulous connections to the arts turn to commissioned work as performative culture and dilute the efforts of those who care. Whether in an effort to humanize their brands or simply tick a “hire local artist” checkbox on a project brief, these types of collaborations can be disingenuous to customers and ultimately tokenize the artists they support. A mural commissioned by your favorite fast casual chain turned gallery curator wilts faster than its lettuce.
What can Apple do to affirm its intentions as genuine? There is no easy answer, but perhaps the best way to push ahead is by investing in sustained dialogue between artists and creative customers beyond the scope of a single marketing campaign. There is nothing creatives love more than learning and growing from the work of others.
Launch weekend
This past weekend marked the launch of Mac Studio, Studio Display, iPhone SE, iPad Air, and iPhone 13 in green at stores around the world. Gizmodo Japan visited Apple Omotesando and put together a great gallery of merchandising photos. There are new graphic panels, too.
Perspektif Istanbul
Last fall, the six-week Today at Apple program Perspektif Istanbul hosted creatives throughout the city with virtual and in-person sessions. Content partner ATÖLYE recently produced this highlight reel shot at Apple Bağdat Caddesi:
St. Patrick's Day
Check out this fascinating time-lapse video from ABC News featuring Apple Michigan Avenue:
ABC News
GREEN DAY: The 60-year tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day continues. https://t.co/EAhrTX6S2u https://t.co/IMlNLRxs4V
Featured image
Actress and advocate Cindy Sirinya Bishop hosts a Today at Apple session in celebration of International Women’s Day at Apple Central World in Bangkok.
Photo via cindysirinya on Instagram.
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Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber @michaelsteeber

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