Cava Life On Roll
Cava Life offers contemporary artworks by pioneering artists having unique perspectives and firm identities. Currently it is one of the fastest-growing art-commerce brands in Seoul. The people behind it bring to you the most fascinating art in the city.
“It’s an art platform and select shop introducing and selling the works by young, creative artists from various genres in the field of contemporary art and culture,” said director Choi Seo-yeon of Cava Life. The art commerce agency was founded by a three-member team of fashion editor and director Choi Seo-yeon, graphic designer and CEO Choi Ji-yeon, and architect and CEO Park Chi-dong. After a year of preparation, they launched the brand in April 2018. Their business is mobile and web-based but they also hold irregular pop-up exhibitions, which is the signature event of Cava Life. “How can we approach people in an easier and more engaging way? Our business strategy entirely focuses on this question,” said director Choi in response to the secret behind their impressive pop-up stores. Many people regard art as something unrelated to them or their lives. The common misconceptions are that art must be viewed at galleries or museums and that those venues validate art. Cava Life is challenging those prejudices, hoping art can be more of an ordinary matter to people.
“Cava Life is an art platform and select shop introducing and selling the works by young, creative artists from various genres in the field of contemporary art and culture”
Click, Cava Life
Cava Life has a mobile and web presence. Its online site allows the visitor to view various works by artists and make a purchase. The homepage of the Cava Life website is full of images that appear as if they are floating in the air. Whenever you press refresh, the images are replaced. Looking closely, you can see the faint grid line against the white background and numbers designated to each item. Moving your cursor over the number will reveal the name of the artist, artwork, and price. The images on the homepage are presented by Cava Life which changes its selection at random whenever the visitor renews the website. It may feel a bit cumbersome to those who are used to commercial sites, but a couple of clicks will make you realize the site is actually pretty simple and intuitive. “We wanted to give people the pleasure of discovering,” director Choi explained. “Our customers are making a decision to buy a work of art based on our online images. For that, a piece of art must impress them first.”
From textile, furniture, and ceramics to paintings, photographs, and video art, Cava Life introduces artworks and creations by over 200 artists and brands in one screen. People’s interests vary a great deal and art has almost no boundaries. It is one of the key concepts the art brand follows. Believing art should not be limited to what gets to be displayed in galleries, Cava Life handles lifestyle, design, and fashion-related creations. “It is regrettable that certain items are consumed as lifestyle products while others are defined as works of art. Many artists engage in cross-genre works, like with a painter making a video feed. There are also multi-purpose creations and products. Above all, we want to give something beautiful to people.” What you are supposed to do once you go on the Cava Life website is to continue refreshing the homepage until you find items that match your interest. Next, remember to click a heart to add the product to your wish list.
Offline Cava Life
Believing in the direct experience of art, Cava Life emphasized that through the theme of its pop-up stores. So far its offline events were held at UN Village in Hannam-dong, RYSE Hotel, Ilmin Museum of Art, Restaurant Taupe, Milan Design Week, and The Selects in New York. “At the UN Village, Hannam-dong pop-up, our launching event, we focused on narrowing the distance between customers and the artworks that are usually associated with art galleries. At the second RYSE Hotel pop-up, we experimented on how to make an art without material characteristics into a consumable item. At Ilmin Museum of Art, we adopted the open-studio concept in order to give people an experience of spending time with a piece of art. During Milan Design Week, we wanted to create a unique online experience of art. So we came up with ideas of involving people in it,” CEO Choi said.
At the pop-up store in the Italian city, a participating customer will be given 10 questions by Cava Life, and the answers will reveal one of the products that best matches the customer’s interest. A simple, straight question asking to choose between wine and beer would prompt the issuing of a receipt with a QR Code containing the information on the artist and artwork as well as an internet link for the purchase. Although the store did not display any artworks physically, it was no doubt a fun store to visit. According to Choi Ji-yeon, it was a message saying, “Among numerous arts in the world, there must be at least one that meets your criteria. Keep an open mind.” The temporary offline presence of Cava Life offers a place to discover new artists and artworks and experience how the idea of the art commerce brand is turned into reality. It’s one of the most outlandish art scenes in Seoul.
“Just like the identity of Cava Life, we’re designing a fluid space.”
Space Only for Cava Life
Cava Life’s showroom opened in December 2019 after remodeling a house built in 1948. The original intention was to use the space as an office. But they decided to start the showroom while hosting a small party for their artists and friends. “Everyone loved the space. We cannot display everything from our online mall here, but we wanted to at least show some of them for our customers. They can also see us work.” (Laugh) Choi Ji-yeon said. The showroom is in a small, white-walled house located in a quiet street in Namyeong-dong. The painted concrete walls show the name ‘CAVA’ in white near the entrance. Windows of different sizes let in plenty of sunlight, creating a warm ambience. The raftered interior is divided into two spaces: one is the office and the other is scheduled for renovation to accommodate art displays and a wine bar for private gatherings. “Just like the identity of Cava Life, we’re designing a fluid space.” Director Choi said as she looked around the showroom. During the March event launching a new production by artist Boma Park, the showroom served as a perfect gallery. “From this year, we plan to hold more events focusing on individual artists or a small group of them. Not just exhibitions but a more participatory kind as well.” CEO Choi said, “We like experimenting. We are also spontaneous. We often get ideas from our conversations with artists. You’ll get to see various projects of Cava Life.”
Always full of new ideas and projects, the two women of Cava Life have a great interest in the topic of work-life balance right now. Director Choi added, “Somehow it touches upon the ultimate message we are trying to convey through Cava Life. It means ‘moving toward a mentally-rewarding life.’” By inserting a beautiful object in your space, you can make your daily life richer. Even if the object functions as a pure visual pleasure. Going into the third year in business this year, Cava Life aims at growing. “We continue to look for ways to approach the wider customer base without losing the fun, eccentric Cava Life character. Please visit us at 108 Namyeong-dong as often as you can.” (Laugh) The big windows at the Cava Life showroom clearly reveal the outside landscape. Cherry blossoms and Japanese apricot flowers start budding in spring while lush green trees refresh your eyes in summer. Now is the perfect time to go to 108 Namyeong-dong.
Six artworks at Cava Life
(From left) Packing tape in a color from Ryu Kyung-ho’s drawing, ‘Ryu Kyung-ho 3rd Edition "Wave".' Apron made for the fifth pop-up store ‘Tapas Bar,’ using image from ‘Still Life project’ by photographer Shin Sun-hye and artist Jaden Cho. It features in-season ingredients. ‘BEVEL’ by TIEL Studio, which can be used as a bookend or a tray. TIEL Studio’s ‘BUCKET’ inspired by a basketball hoop. It can function as a stool, a basket or a table base. Lee Yoon-jeong’s handmade cutlery set, highlighted by its flowing, unrestrained curves and shape. A table by Seo Jeong-hwa, which combines the rough texture of aluminum with that of permeable acrylic.