Stationery Sunday – Do Nothing Club

hongdae seoul lifestyle shop

Hi friends! Welcome to another episode of Stationery Sunday! Each week I introduce stationery shops or brands in Seoul, South Korea. Check out my SEOUL STATIONERY GUIDE for more blog posts and videos.

This week is brought to you by the Do Nothing Club, which isn’t actually a stationery store or a brand. To be honest, I’m not actually sure how to describe it. I believe it started off as a joke Instagram account between two friends and former colleagues, Kyurim and Seunghee. They both had left their jobs last year for a life sabbatical of sorts. I suppose they meant to take a break, relax, and “do nothing.” But judging from their Instagrams (and they both have sizable followings), they’re doing anything but nothing. Writing and publishing books, putting on exhibits, launching merchandise… they’ve been terribly productive during unemployment.

I’ve followed @kyurimkim on Instagram for a while now. Outside of her (former) job as a marketer, she wears many hats. She’s a blogger and the author of several books, including Kyurim’s Tokyo Travel Journal, which I shared in this post about self-published illustrated travel journals. On her IG profile, she calls herself a “stationery person” (person of stationery), which makes more sense in Korean. Basically she’s super passionate about stationery, and her niche passion is quite infectious, influential and inspiring. I would call her a stationery influencer. (If fashion and beauty can have influencers, then so can stationery.)

I live for photos of her sunlit desk in her “thinking room”

Anyway the pair were approached by the fashion and lifestyle brand Mo Better Works to do a merchandise collaboration around the Do Nothing Club. Mo Better Works is a brand for people who work “in a new and different way,” which I guess means freelancers, creators, WFHers and the like. I think their clothing is supposed to be a comfy-casual “uniform” for people who work outside of a typical office. The style is street casual wear emphasizing a counterculture to the 9-to-6 daily grind. (As evidenced by their one of their signature designs, ASAP.) It looks hip and cool, and ya wonderful sheep here would love to be a hip Seoulite.

Do Nothing Club Instagram: @donothingclub.seoul

Mo Better Works IG: @mobetterworks

Mo Better Works Merch shop: https://mobetterworks.com/

The Do Nothing Club x Mo Better Works collaboration launched for the S/S season, and last week they had an exhibition and pop up shop at Object in Hongdae.

do nothing club photo zone
Do Nothing Club photo zone

The exhibition was only for 10 days, but you can see they went all out on the details.

do nothing club history
Do Nothing Club History

I loved this timeline of this club’s “history.”

  • 1873: Club origins as a secret society
  • 1894: Passing on the techniques of “an idle life”
  • 1983: Proliferation of the “do nothing” movement
  • 1991: Establishment of the code of conduct (club rules), which consists of one rule: do nothing.
not to do list memos
Not To Do List memos

Waiter/waitress order pads-inspired Not To Do lists. Was tempted, but resisted.

do nothing club prints
Do Nothing Club prints
graphic bird vinyl stickers
Do Nothing Club vinyl stickers

Graphic vinyl stickers. I picked up a couple, including the No Wifi one.

do nothing club photos clothing
Do Nothing Club clothing corner

This order board for clothing was a cool concept. There were sample sizes on a rack (mostly tee-shirts, some board shorts), and then you took the little corresponding tag to the counter to pay.

My haul

I believe both the founders of the DNC used to work in marketing, which really showed because the whole team did a great job of promoting the Do Nothing lifestyle on social media. At the pop up, there were membership forms and cards, which added that attractive touch of exclusivity (only cool kids allowed) + feeling like part of the group. And like other uniforms, sporting the merch (and using the stationery) signals you as a member of this club, whatever it actually is. I didn’t even know how to define it, but I found myself wanting in. Case in point: a few weeks ago I saw someone wearing this tee-shirt and I had to stop myself from approaching them in delight: “Do Nothing Club? I’m a fan too.”

Anyway, after I impulse-bought my way into the cool kids club, I walked along the Gyeongi Line book street. (Object in Hongdae is just off a pedestrian walkway devoted to the theme of books.) It’s officially spring, nearing summer, and the weather was perfect for an evening stroll.

book street sculpture
Book Street art installation
evening Seoul book street
Evening view of Book Street in Seoul

Jokes about cool kids aside, I think the concept of Do Nothing is appealing because it runs counter to the Internet-era emphasis on the hustle. If you pursue creative passions on social media, there’s an ever present pressure to grind, side-job and monetize your passion. I’m susceptible to it too; someday I would like to earn income from my creative practices. But I’m realizing that along the way, I need to step back and just do things for the sake of enjoyment. Pursue things for pure pleasure, without the hidden motivations to document for a blog post or YouTube video. This concept aligns with a quote I saw on Twitter today.

You waste years by not being able to waste hours.

Amos Tversky

I’d love to hear how you like to “do nothing” or waste hours (however you want to define it). For me, reading fiction is a big one. It’s not outwardly productive, but always nourishing.

Thanks for tuning into this special episode of Stationery Sunday. See you next week!

Last week’s episode: One Third shop in Yeonhui-dong

11 Comments

  1. I see what you mean. The Do Nothing club is really a cool kids concept, but perfectly captures the trend of ‘slow cooking’ / ‘back to the land’ / ‘calm down and…’ and so on. I like their No Wi Fi stickers! That seems genius to have on a coffee shop or bookstore window. (But I know, everyone has internet on their phones these days.)

    And the not to do list… Hmmm, the possibilities!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally. I think it also aligns with the renewed interest in all things analog like film cameras, vintage stationery, keeping journals etc. And the no wifi sticker is a part of that. A reminder to unplug from social media and screens and just BE with yourself.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What a super delightful post!! I love everything about it! That’s definitely a club I belong to!! 😁 The time line is impressive! 😉 And I always knew that there had to be another meaning for ASAP! 😂 The Not To Do List pads are perfect. I’m impressed you resisted the temptation to add it to your haul. 😉 And so inspiring to learn that these two made something great of being unemployed and just do ‘nothing’ (which of course they totally failed at 😂). And I’m 100% sure that you’ll also find your way with your art and your passion – and to realize that you also need to unplug from time to time and just do what you love and simply be is shows that you’re headed the right way. ❤

    Like

    1. Thank you Sarah! I’m glad you also enjoyed the idea of a Do Nothing club. I’m interpreting it to mean take time to Do Things Purely for Joy. And actually The Artist’s Way is helping identify what those things are. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow a few weeks ago I read about the DNC in this weekly newsletter (I’ll send you the link via katalk), but I didn’t find it very much interesting until I read this post. Coming from you, the concept of doing nothing gets more personal and meaningful. I especially liked your comment about not thinking too much about how to document your enjoyments. That’s what I’m feeling about my Naver blogging these days. =)

    Liked by 1 person

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