“Hyundai Card Travel Library opened in 2014 in the quiet but luxurious shopping district of Cheongdam in southern part of Seoul. The second of Hyundai Card’s themed libraries, Travel Library is home to nearly 15,000 books on travel, history, and culture, which are curated together to provide broader perspective on travel. In addition to books, the collection also contains maps of 92 different cities.
The library’s interior was designed around the concept “stock of curiosity,” with floor-to-ceiling shelves that mimic the atmosphere of a cave. The concept was created and executed by internationally renowned interior architect Masamichi Katayama of the global architecture firm Wonderwall.
A Cave of Curiosity
“We wanted the library to offer a sense of unpredictability and inquisitiveness that might be rare in Cheongdam-dong, a neighborhood known more as the home of Seoul’s luxury brands,” said a Hyundai Card Travel Library manager. ”We believe that travel is not about consumption, but about finding a new path in a creative way. Travel is a theme that can inspire everyone. It is also the key to understanding different cultures. We therefore wanted to portray travel as an intellectual search for new experiences.”
“The library was created as a way to understand travel, one of today’s fastest-growing lifestyle sectors, through the medium of a library, one of society’s prototypical cultural spaces. In this way, we hope to juxtapose new and old.”
Travel Library is accessible only to Hyundai Card holders. The interior is designed to invoke the excitement that comes with departure, with airplane figurines, vintage globes, antique furniture, compasses and exploration tools from around the world placed around the premises. At the entrance, a vintage slit-flat departure board updates every 30 minutes with real-time flight information from Incheon International Airport.
Collections to Explore
Travel Library’s book collection is curated around two main concepts: Theme and Region.
In the Theme section, books on destinations around the world are mixed together under the headings of Arts & Heritage, Adventure & Activities, and Lifestyle & Landscape. Visitors with a certain type of trip in mind but no designated destination can freely explore the world at once under any chosen theme. Meanwhile, in the Region section, guidebooks and other material on specific countries and cities help visitors plan their trips in detail. A separate dictionary section covers languages spoken by 99 percent of the world’s population.
Travel Library is also home to the complete collection of National Geographic magazine from its first issue in 1888 to today. In addition, it accommodates the complete collections of the world’s first and only journal of cartography, Imago Mundi, and the Royal Asiatic Society’s Korea-based academic journal, Transactions.
Find, Play, and Plan
To engage visitors with the act of travel, the library was designed with three extra rooms: Find Room, Play Room, and Plan Room.
In the Find Room, visitors begin their journey with a wall of maps from 92 different cities around the world. On the ceiling hang dozens of plane figurines.
In the Play Room, a wall-sized LCD of Google Earth lets visitors explore the globe digitally. The library’s custom Google Earth program includes Google’s 3D maps, satellite maps, and Street View data, as well as Travel Library-curated journeys through the world’s best destinations for art, adventure, music, and more. Finally, in the Plan Room, visitors can plan their own trips using freely-offered blank maps of popular destinations. They can also share their ideas on the walls, which are covered in whiteboard.