A North Korean sweet wrapper. From Made in North Korea
A North Korean sweet wrapper. From Made in North Korea

See the graphic delights of North Korea in London

Nicholas Bonner's new book Made in North Korea gets its own show at the House of Illustration next month

North Korea might be better known for food shortages than consumer treats and delicacies. However, a new show opening next month at the House of Illustration, the UK’s only public gallery dedicated to illustration and the graphic arts, will focus on the surprising beauty to be found in the packaging of the DPRK.

Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK will run 23 February to 13 May, and display a selection of North Korean graphic design drawn from the collection of the British North-Korean expert and Phaidon author Nicholas Bonner.

 

A 3D lenticular postcard extolling a plethora of beauty products aimed at women containing that most quintessential of North Korean panaceas – Kaesong Ginseng. From Made in North Korea
A 3D lenticular postcard extolling a plethora of beauty products aimed at women containing that most quintessential of North Korean panaceas – Kaesong Ginseng. From Made in North Korea

The show draws heavily from Bonner’s book, also called Made in North Korea, which, as he explains in the introduction, features “common objects given beautiful status by the often hand-drawn graphics from North Korea’s most creative designers.”

 

A Pyongyang brand cigarette carton. From Made in North Korea
A Pyongyang brand cigarette carton. From Made in North Korea

“Some of the work is elaborate but the basic designs too should not be overlooked – minimalistic simplicity creating beautifully rhythmic artwork,” Bonner writes. “I am not unique in finding beauty and fascination in this kind of product, and I have no doubt that many people inside North Korea also enjoy seeing packaging and design elements in their daily lives.”

 

Made in North Korea
Made in North Korea

Now, perhaps many outside of that country can share in the hand-made, slightly antiquated appeal of these graphics. To find out more about the show and attendant events, including a Q&A session with Nicholas, go here. To find out more about Bonner and his collection, order a copy of Made in North Korea here.