FOR STATIONERY and design lovers, South Korea is paradise—Artboxes and Daisos seem to follow you wherever you go, begging you to spend money there (and you oblige, of course). After a while though, you might need a change of pace. If you are looking for some trendy, creative stores filled with as many stickers as your heart desires, here are some recommendations in the Hongdae and Hapjeong areas that will satisfy all your stationery and gift needs.
Recorder Factory’s immediate vibe is “all things cute,” with their signature cartoon bunny peering out at you when you walk in. Their main store, Recorder Store, has their own brand, “Rico,” with a whole wall on the basement floor devoted to alphabet stickers, racks of phone cases, and acrylic keychains. Rico characters consist of various foods, animals, and sea creatures all with blue eyes and a pink mouth—somehow, a tiny face makes anything cute. They also sell goods from individual artists, each with their own art style and set of characters. If you are just looking for unique stickers, Recorder Store has plenty, from dinosaurs taking a shower to rabbits wearing sweaters. If you are looking to get into decorative journaling, Recorder Store also sells the clear, sparkly binder journals that are popular on Instagram, and miniature versions for beginners if you cannot commit to a full A5 spread just yet. And, like every design store these days, they also have clear AirPod cases featuring their Rico brand characters that you can decorate with stickers. My personal favorites from this store are the alphabet stickers, as it is not always easy to find them at a cheap price. They have them in any color, style, and texture you could ever need.
If you finish looking through Recorder Store’s selection of goods, you can walk just a few blocks away to their other location, Recorder Market, where more stickers await you.
Opening hours: 12:00–20:00 Wednesday to Sunday
If you are looking for some opportunities to D.I.Y., Object is your go-to place. Located along the Gyeong-ui Jung-ang Line north of the main Hongdae area, this design store has four floors filled with everything, from postcards and stickers to dried roots and candles. However, the best part about Object is the fact that you can customize some of your purchases. The basement floor has a D.I.Y. station where you can decorate fabric goods with glue-on patches. Harnessing your inner artist, you could buy a toast-shaped pouch and cover it in tiny eggs or put trains all over your white canvas shoes—the options are endless. Going up to the 2nd floor, you will see that this floor contains the bulk of Object’s stationery goods, but what’s special about their selection of stationery is that they also sell mix-and-match crayon boxes with Lego-shaped and vegetable-shaped crayons. Another station also lets you assemble your own colorful rings. The 3rd floor has more home goods such as cups as well as a whole table full of delicate, handmade jewelry. The check-out counter is also located on this floor, where you can place your new purchases in free giftbags made from recycled magazine pages. Finally, the top floor is a bookstore which also has customizable journals, where you can pick the color of the elastic band and decorate your journal cover with stickers. You can definitely spend a few hours browsing through everything Object has to offer and do a wide range of fun activities while you are at it. Some of my personal favorite goods from the store are the dried flower greeting cards and the miniature flipbooks sold by some of the artists. Make sure to revisit Object every once in a while; as with most design stores, the artists selling goods there are switched out regularly.
Opening hours: 12:00–21:00 Everyday
KT & G Sang sang ma dang
KT&G Sang sang ma dang’s name literally means “imagination garden,” and you will immediately see why. It is a massive seven-story building in the middle of Hongdae with a giant, sparkly light-up sign so you definitely will not miss it. Though the 1st floor is filled with your typical selection of stickers, washi tapes, postcards, and other stationery, Sang sang ma dang’s appeal is the fact that it seems to have everything an art and design lover would ever need all in one large, cohesive space. The 2nd floor is perfect for finding a unique gift; it has more stationery as well as home goods such as ceramics, kitchen towels, and dining ware, along with other items such as t-shirts and tote bags. From perfumes to giant geometric paper busts of animal heads you can assemble yourself, you are guaranteed to find something for just about anyone. The next floor has a café and a pop-up store, which changes on a regular basis—currently, it is the Pippi Longstocking 75-year Anniversary store. Above the café are two gallery floors that feature various exhibits, such as Alan Fletcher’s “Welcome to My Studio” in the past. The current events, which will last until June 30, include an exhibition featuring various artists titled “I Live Alone.” Finally, two floors labelled as “academy” spaces lie above the galleries, where workshops are held for activities such as making picture books, embroidery, sound production, playwriting, and more. My personal favorite goods from this store are a ceramic set with a geometric optical illusion design and the rack of cat-themed postcards. The Sang sang ma dang in Hongdae opened in 2007, and the concept has since expanded to Chuncheon and Nonsan cities.
Opening hours: Varies by floor
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Whether you are looking for the perfect birthday present for your friend or washi tapes to decorate your journal, these design stores all have a unique selection to offer. It is never a bad idea to treat yourself with a cute and crafty shopping spree on the weekend!