Hyundai Motor Company (Genesis Motors)

In a special exhibition of Genesis GV80, which was held in January to celebrate the launch of the brand’s new ambitious sport-utility vehicle, the organizers of the exhibition focused on the concept of “a tunnel” as a metaphor of a bridge connecting the past and future.

GV80, the brand’s first SUV which was created in collaboration between Genesis Design studios in South Korea, the United States and Germany, is a new venture for Genesis - the brand that steadily focused on luxury sedans since it was separated from Hyundai Motor Company and launched as a standalone brand in 2015. The sign of transition and an effort to move forward is expressly conveyed in the overall layout of the exhibition space in the Hanam studio just east of Seoul.

The tunnel at the entrance of the studio, a floor-to-ceiling cutout of the letter “GV80” against a black steel plate, creates a powerful impression of the space and an eye-catching moment for visitors entering the studio, serving as an ideal photo spot for Instagram-friendly audiences.

The tunnel offers a sneak peek at GV80 between the cutout letters, building up tension about the much-talked about vehicle with spot lightings inside the tunnel creating an atmospheric illumination. Passed the tunnel, an entire wall features black and white photographs of GV80 in various outdoor settings - some close-ups and others from a more distant angle - underpinning the brand’s minimalist sensibility and replacing wordy description about the vehicle performance and design concepts with simple, fragmented images. Finally on the main stage or “Hero Car Zone” at the center of the studio, mirrors gently surround the vehicle from four sides, projecting endless images of GV80 and creating a hypnotic sense of place.

Overall, the studio’s décor is reduced to minimum. The colors remain largely monochrome – a mix of black and white with cemented walls and wooden finishes. The subtle play of lighting plays a pivotal role in creating a relaxed atmosphere of the space, drawing the visitors’ eyes on the vehicle and key displays from entrance to exit. The dark lighting also sets the tone of the luxury SUV.

The studio focuses on viewer experience as a primary consideration, offering a lot of white space for contemplation, as in an art gallery. Like an exhibition hall at a museum, chairs are positioned a few meters away from the wall adorned with photographs and videos, offering a quiet moment of contemplation in a crowded studio full of visitors. On one side, a lounge allows a comfort zone for visitors to sit around, browse through pamphlets and appreciate the design experience of the brand.

Similar to the aesthetics of GV80, which focuses on the beauty of empty space inspired by the elegant characters of the Korean architectural philosophy, the layout of the overall space at the Genesis Studio is simple and refined. The overall concept of the space is akin to the previous layout of the studio when it launched the lineup of G70, G80 and G90 sedans, and provides luxurious experience for visitors similar to the experience of visiting a high-end boutique.

The title “Your First Step in the Future” both encapsulates the concept of GV80 and the exhibition. GV80 bridges the brand’s transition from sedans to SUV. Likewise, the tunnel serves as an important metaphor of a bridge between the past and the future. Each letter, cut out in multiple layers to resemble “rings of a tree,” stands as a sign of the brand heritage and history.

The title and the artful layout of the exhibition touches on emotional aspects of the brand’s primary target group, tackling the sensibility and imagination that may be appealing for family audience.

In many ways the design concept of the Genesis studio for GV80 is subtle and low-key, fittingly for a brand that positions itself as “open” and “young,” clearly distinguishing itself from old luxury car buyers that tend to have an inaccessible and showy image. Like the brand’s philosophy based on “athletic elegance,” the aesthetics of the space is rooted on comfort and grace.