Money makers: tour the new Hyundai Card Factory in Seoul

The Hyundai Card Card Factory in Seoul
The Hyundai Card Card Factory in Seoul has thrown open its doors to visitors
(Image credit: press)

If you ever wondered what a credit card production facility looks like, a visit to the Hyundai Card Card Factory (opens in new tab) is just what the doctor ordered. Located in the company's headquarters in Yeouido, the heart of Seoul's financial district, this brand new project by Hyundai has just opened its doors to the public, offering unprecedented, behind-the-scenes access to its manufacturing spaces.

The factory takes over the building's tenth floor, designed by local architect Choi Wook of One O One (opens in new tab) – also the man behind another recent project by the same company, the city's Hyundai Card Design Library. The company recently inaugurated one more bespoke space earlier this year (although designed by a different architect), the Hyundai Card Music Library.

One of the team's main priorities was to create a varied emotional experience for the factory visitor – the space should hover between a functional industrial facility, a historical archive and an art installation. Inspiration was found in the vibe and atmosphere of the pioneering factories from the age of the industrial revolution. Thus, the interior combines modern, state-of-the-art automated technology with a little analogue nostalgia via the use of elements that reference the 19th century. For example, the nine large lighting elements hanging from the ceiling subtly recall factory chimneys. Metal – chosen for its raw, industrial feel – was Choi's main choice of material for elevators and furniture.

The company's own history and archives were equally important to the design process. A 'history wall' displays the 102 card plates created since the Hyundai Card's conception, while 200 books about industrial design from the 19the century through to the present day are available to browse in the building's special reading corner. 

The Card Factory is now open to Hyundai customers (there's currently over seven million), who can pick up their cards on site. Members can bring up to three guests along, to relax at the factory's cafe  or take a tour of the premises, experiencing first-hand how their plastic money is made in the 21st century. 

headquarters in the city's financial district

The company's customers can pick up their new Hyundai cards in person, from its headquarters in the city's financial district

(Image credit: press)

Hyundai Card Factory interior design by Architect Choi

Architect Choi Wook worked on the interior design. He drew inspiration from 19th century industrial facilities

(Image credit: press)

Hyundai Card Factory interior design by Architect Choi

Metal was the architect's construction material of choice, selected for its industrial feel

(Image credit: press)

Nine large lighting pieces hang from the ceiling

Nine large lighting pieces hang from the ceiling, their shapes referencing factory chimneys

(Image credit: press)

a 'history wall': a display where visitors can see the 102 card plates produced by the company since its launch

The factory includes a 'history wall': a display where visitors can see the 102 card plates produced by the company since its launch

(Image credit: press)

A book corner in the building allows visitors to take a moment to relax and browse through the history of industrial design

A book corner in the building allows visitors to take a moment to relax and browse through the history of industrial design

(Image credit: press)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).