Doors: Boundaries of Communication

Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation

Doors: Boundaries of Communication

Arumjigi Culture Keepers arranges a special exhibition every year to uphold and take inspiration from traditional clothing, cuisine, and housing in creative ways for their continued development and use in modern society.  This year's exhibition is Doors, Boundaries of Communication, which as its name implies is about the ‘door,’ one of the most basic elements of architecture.  This is Arumjigi’s fourth exhibition on housing.

The first exhibition on housing was in 2005.  It showed the beauty of tradition in furniture and household items.  In 2008, Arumjigi suggesteda modern lifestyle in a traditional Korean house through the second such exhibition, and in 2011, it showed modern furniture design reflecting the aesthetics and proportions of traditional furniture.  This exhibition goes much farther: Arumjigi has attempted to shed light on an essential element of architecture.

This exhibition exploresthe essential concept of a door, as well as tactile and visual aspects inherent to a door. Focusing on the relations between a door and its users, a door and architectural space, and a door and its surrounding environment, Arumjigi intends to discover diverse possibilities of a door that is practical and yet beautiful and that can reflect the culture of everyday living, while trying to find the best place for a door in actual living space, rather than an object to be shown in an exhibition space. Arumjigi arranged this exhibition in hopes that the door, already long a standardized form, will embodythe characteristics of space and people's sensitivities.

The first section, Doors by Architects, explores how a door can make architecture richer. Viewers can see how doors made of new proportions, materials, and techniques interact with space.  The second section, Boundaries Forgotten, reproduces traditional doors seen in Donggwoldo (“Painting of Eastern Palace”), which is an illustration of Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung done in the latter Joseon period.  The third section, The Third Doors, introduces practical items produced in collaboration with crafts and design which show diverse possibilities to complement ordinary doors and surrounding spaces.   

While preparing for this exhibition, we looked at a door in the belief that we needed to completely reconsider even the most mundane things in our everyday living space and that we should cultivate our sense of beauty in our everyday living with excellent understanding of the tangible and intangible beauty of Korean culture.

Wooden Fence

A wooden fence in this case is a structure of wooden boards between wooden pillars.  Some wooden fences are movable and can be used independently, and others are fixed in place.  Such walls were used to separate functions, to provide privacy, to ensure security, or to divide an area temporarily.  A wooden fence like this was seen in residential areas of the palace, such as Daejojeon Hall, Gyeonghungak Hall, and Huijeongdang Hall.  

Fixed and movable wooden fences and woldae (stone platform) stood in the courtyard of Daejojeon, the official residence of the Queen.  The fixed wooden fence divided the courtyard of Daejojeon Hall into two sections and created a courtyard for the royal kitchen. The movable wooden fenceblocked direct lines of sight between the royal kitchen and the courtyard of Daejojeon Hall. It seems that at the time Donggwoldo was done, an extraordinary situation was unfolding in Daejojeon Hall, and that a wooden fence was installed on the stone platform to prevent anyone from seeing the Queen from the courtyard.  At Gyeonghungak/ Jinggwangnu Pavilion north of Daejojeon Hall were two fixed wooden fences. The fences divided the courtyard into three sections: Gyeonghungak, the west courtyard, and the south courtyard.  The western fence had an open portal and a draped door for easy access.

Imun (Two Doors)

Imun is a set of two doors, one taller than the other. Imun can be seen at the outer boundaries of a palace and also at the boundaries of the inner areas of a palace.

Imun at the outer boundaries of a palace connects the inside and outside of the palace.  Examples of imun are Gyeongchumun Gate at the western side of the palace and Wolgeunmun and Seoninmun gates at the eastern side of the palace.  The doors of imun were made of wooden boards and used as a gate.  Multiple wooden boards were used for a door of a palace for greater security. If we look at royal residential areas such as Yeongyeongdang, Sujeongjeon, and Mansesongeun, we can see imun in different forms at major buildings such as the main hall of the palace and royal bedchambers of the King and the Queen. Imun at these areas were either sets of two wooden doors or a wooden door and drape door.  A wooden door was made by inserting a board into a door frame.  Depending on the size of a door, a number of wood boards may be inserted separately into several sections.  A drape door is like a modern curtain and is made of silk.  It was actually two drapes, which were opened by tying the two drapes to each side. Erected in royal residential areas, the taller door of imun was used by members of the royal family and the lower door was used by court ladies.  The lower door was used much more frequently that the taller door.


The hedge of a traditional Korean garden is called chwibyeong in Korean, which literally means‘jade-green folding screen.’  It is live fence of plants, and is an element of a garden that recreates nature.  The boundary hedge has a door.

The hedge in the garden of Changdeokgung palace is erected in front of Juhamnu Pavilion and forms a boundary between the areas of Juhamnu/ Seohyanggak.  The hedge, of course, has gates or doors.  Five doors including Eosumun Gate connect this area with the Buyeongjeong area.  The hedge makes for a beautiful garden forBuyeongjeong Pavilion and is in harmony with the terraced garden and Buyongji Pond.  A hedge is also seen at Chwiunjeong Pavilion, where the King used to take a nap. Chwiunjeong was within a garden; a wooden fence was erected around the garden; and then a hedge ran along the exterior of the wooden fence.  The wooden fencegave the King privacy, and the hedge created harmony with the scenery of the garden. The hedge had an arched doorway, which can also be seen in the garden in the southern part of Yeonyeonghap (residence of the Crown Prince).


Hedges at Sojuhamnu, a place where the Crown Prince would take a nap, and SimindangHall, where the Crown Prince reviewed lessons with his teachers, were of simpler structures. They were erected to create nature on the otherwise desolate landscape of the courtyard, which clearly indicates the characteristics of a hedge as a component of a garden.


As discussed thus far, a hedge was an element that divided areas and a component of a garden at a royal residence.

Doors by Four Architects

1. Choi Wook

A door functions as an object being physically touched or moving one’s eyes, and it is a boundary for us to physically pass through.

As a boundary, a door differs in its feeling of thickness and psychology across cultures, and a door is expressed as layer that reflects traces of time and history.

Korean doors or windows made of wood constitute the façade of a building and are also a sort of boundary between the inside and outside. Korean doors have existed as blank spaces of landscape rather than frames that make scenery.

The exhibition on doors presented by Arumjigi explores the door, a point of contact between the inside and outside with intent to extend the symbolism of space and a door, the boundary of a barrier and its meaning.


A door creates behavior.

That behavior is culture.

A door has a light part and a heavy part,

And a part to push and a part to pull.

A door is a point of contact where body and mind, and landscape meet.

We identify a door as a design as a physical object and at the same time as a space where behavior manifests.

Doors by Four Architects

2. Choi Moon Gyu

‘So I began to wonder if I had a bizarre sort of split personality. On the one hand, I was interested in the most advanced functions of language in experimental literature and art. On the other hand, I relished television, comic books, and detective stories.’ - Umberto Eco

A door is to be opened, and a different world may be experienced when entered.  As another world begins when we open a book, a door is a boundary at the beginning of another world.  However, we cannot enter a new world as we would when opening a book with a curious mind if we open a door without giving any thought to the significance of the act.

‘Turkey should not worry about having two spirits, belonging to two different cultures, having two souls. Schizophrenia makes you intelligent. You may lose your relation with reality, but you shouldn’t worry about your schizophrenia.’ - OrhanPamuk

Sometimes, I have a fancy that the door through which I entered may be a completely different door if I looked back at it.  A door the front and the back of which are completely different.  The size, the color, and material of either side are so different that it makes me think I entered into a totally different world.  Looking into a mirror, I realized that my face and the back of my head were so different that I became curious how I myself had known nothing of it at all. Out of curiosity, I looked at things around me and found out there were so many things with completely different fronts and backs. Then, the thought did cross my mind that my appearance in everyday life and my appearance as I perceived it in my mind were totally different. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the same person but look completely unlike each other. Likewise, a door to another world is a plane of other world that is different.

The door of The Castle by Franz Kafka does not stay open forever. I wonder what kind of world there is on the other side.

Doors by Four Architects

3. Cho Byoung Soo

For me, making a door should be part of and at the same time all of creating architecture.  I believe that the paradise of architecture lies in practicing and doing small things, that is, the reality surrounding us, rather than utopia faraway, and the process itself of practicing that reality.  I thought making a door should be no different than what I believe about architecture.

The door at this exhibition is not a special door for a specific space but one to be used comfortably in ordinary homes.  This door is of common materials and can be easily made.  In designing this door, I focused on how to use recycled goods.  My intention is to show a door built of a simple structure made of plywood or corrugated steel.  Years later, when the door is no longer used, it can be easily dissembled and recycled.


How to make a door

1. Get recycled materials

2. Select recycled materials and mark what piece is used and how

3. Determine the order of work and draw a chart

4. Test if parts are cut properly and can be assembled as intended, and make a sample of a small part

5. Sort out things to throw away and things to keep, and finish the work


Things you have to consider  before making a door

1. Think of making a door with recycled goods and making it recyclable

2. Think of revealing as it is rather than hiding ugly parts to make it visually appealing

3. Remember that an over-designed thing can be as bad as a thing that is not adequately thought out

Doors by Four Architects

4. NAMELESS Architecture (Na Un Chung + Yoo So Rae)


A door implies a place beyond it.  In addition to its functionality such as opening and closing, and safety and privacy, the door means a flexible and changing boundary that defines place.  The nature of a traditional Korean door with a lattice set in the door frame, in particular, is quite gentle. The thin but durable lattice become one with changhoji (traditional Korean paper pasted on doors and windows) inside.  Due to the semi-transparency unique to changhoji, the door properly accommodates the inside and outside, rather than separating them.  The look of a worn-out door loosened by many hands enables communication between the inside and outside in a relaxed mood.  

We intend to reinterpret the possibility for the boundary of the traditional door using new materials and old methods.  As a flexible architectural element rather than a fixed element, a door consists of the structural lattice made of reinforced epoxy and semi-transparent silicone surface.  Although transparent, the structural lattice functions well as an independent structure.  The soft surface with the elasticity of silicone applied on the structural lattice minimizes the separation between the inside and outside, and even when the door is closed, light and silhouettes beyond the space show through.  The act of people opening and closing the door changes the surface of the door due to the elasticity of material.  The tactile door beyond visual perception stimulates the inside of our senses and more actively intervenes between spaces.

The Third Doors

Kim, Joung Hwan


1. Jogakbo(Patchwork) Front Door Blind

I live in a small apartment with corridor access, and I like to keep my front door open. When the door is open, I feel the ambience outside my house and the weather of the day more closely.  The sense of the openness brought by an open door differs from that brought by an open window.  However, I need to install a screen door to keep out the flying insects. 

As a test product, I installed a ready-made screen door, but the product did not seem to be in harmony with the scenery inside and outside of my house, but it did keep the insects out.  So, I began thinking hard about making a screen of a sensitive design rather than the image of a typical screen door, and inspiration came from a traditional door screen used during the Joseon period.  I decided to adapt the traditional image to the modern lifestyle.

I tried very hard to design a door screen that was practical and convenient enough that it could be used by anyone.  To be sure, I also considered price and ease of production.  Instead of attaching Velcro tape to the sides of the door, I fixed a wooden beam on the top of the door to create a natural look of a screen hanging.  Made of organza, which is used for linings of hanbok (traditional Korean clothes), I applied a jogakbo pattern to impart a feeling of being neat without being light.  Organza is material that allows sunlight and breezes to pass through, and the color is not extravagant.  It is never overdone regardless of wherever I put this screen in a house.  I attached a magnet at the middle so that people can come in and out without any inconvenience.


Dimensions : 1030 x 2100 (mm)

Materials: Organza fabric, wood, urethane paint on iron plate


2. Time-resistant Door Plate

Few door plates bearing names can be found today.  It is not difficult to identify a house without the name of its house owner, however, because of the unique house number.  For example, the number 408 confirms the location of my house, if you are looking for it.  We are, therefore, accustomed to finding houses by number, but I miss the old days when a postman had to find a house known as ‘Mr. Kim’ or ‘Mrs. Lee.’  Isn’t it that we know we have arrived at the place when we see a sign like ‘Welcome to City of Seoul’?

I wanted to impart the emotion imbued in a name rather than the number of my house.  Even if I moved to another house somewhere else years later, my friends visiting me at my new house should see it is my house because of the door plate with my name on it, even despite seeing an unfamiliar door.

While designing door plates, I looked for materials that could record the passing of time along with the name of the owner.  Stone and wood are good materials for plates, but they cannot show change with time.  I wanted material that would record time together with the name.  Then I came across rusty iron. When iron is exposed to moisture, it gradually turns rusty red and changes in texture, and I like the way it implies getting old.  I like it all the more because it is reminiscent of human life.  Of all kinds of iron, I found corten steel, which is mostly used for the façades of buildings, to be the most suitable for my work.  It gets rusty red in the first five years, and then stops corroding.  I use stainless or stone tile to ensure that some change occurs to the materials, but the form is very simple to be suitable for any place and to always remain appealing.



Dimensions : 180 x 80 (mm)

Materials: Corten steel, stainless ,or stone

The Third Doors

Choi,  Jung You

A door is physical thing that divides the inside from the outside.

A door is also a psychological thing that connects the inside and the outside.

A door with directional nature is about communication after all.

As the physical and psychological boundary becomes blurred, it creates a landscape that moves in and out.

When I worked for the Asia Craft & Design Project, I got inspiration from Hoi An, Viet Nam for color and image.  Using natural materials and applying a production technique used in Hoi An, I intend to suggest objects useful for everyday living in modern times.  I reinterpreted the blind and rush sleeping mat used in virtually every house in Hoi An and produced objects for the modern lifestyle.


Moss-bearing walls of old houses in Hoi An embody the history of the house.  These walls are of unique texture, like colorful marbling.  By expressing such marbled walls by hand painting technique on silk, which is a major product of Hoi An, I produced a light door that feels like a wall brought inside the house.  Installed in front of a door or other inside space, this door or blind divides spaces.  I used translucent silk to create another blurred landscape across the fabric.  

Dimensions: w1000mm x h 2000mm (size varies)

Materials: Silk, dye


Wires of utility poles stand one after another all over the tropical city of Hoi An, and they create shadows, showing different scenes of lines in the morning and afternoon.  The common sleeping mat used by residents of Hoi An is made of rush by a team of two people weaving together.  The mat is produced by traditional methods using horizontal and vertical structures.  By making simple changes to the color and length of a traditional mat, I produced objects the can be used in new ways, such as a bench and a basket that can be placed by a door.


Dimensions:w1000mm x h 2000mm

Materials: Rush, Polyester


Dimensions: w 1250mm x d480 x h 480mm

Materials: Rush, steel, birth plywood



Dimensions: w 350mm x h 650mm

Materials: Rush, steel

Credits: All media
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