South Korean capital Seoul is known for being a bright and colourful city. Nevertheless, during the annual 3 week long monsoon season, the city’s colours are drowned out by the constant downpour and perennial grey skies. The result is that people stop engaging with their urban environments by remaining indoors and the city’s energy dissipates into gloom. The question is: how do you get people to engage with their city even when the weather turns against them?

This is the starting point for Project Monsoon, a graphic design and urban art initiative which seeks to bring back the vibrancy of city spaces through graphic design tailored for rainy times.

So, what exactly is the group’s big idea?

Paint the streets of Soul with water-responsive paint (obviously)! This way, as the heavens open above and the city turns grey, it comes alive with a renewed vibrancy aided by splashes of colour. In order to achieve this, Project Monsoon have partnered up with paint-gurus Pantone. The New Jersey company have in fact developed an innovative hydrochromatic paint which activates when it comes in contact with water. This allows artists to paint secret art which is only revealed during rainy days.


One of Project Monsoon’s designs: a pink whale and an entourage of colourful fish. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]
Puddles come alive thanks to Pantone’s water-responsive hydrochromic paint. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]
Water activated paint provides an opportunity to turn a rainy day into a colourful event. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]
One of Project Monsoon’s designs: sea turtles and small clusters of fish. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim] [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]
The project is in collaboration with Pantone and their innovative hydrochromic paint. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]


It’s worth noting is also how the street-art project wishes to connect with the city’s inhabitants at multiple levels. It delivers colour and adds to the experience of the place, but it has also high-tech social spinoffs to get people engaging directly with the art. Augmented reality boards, designed to resemble the characteristic Pantone frame, allow people to get a preview of what particular streets will turn into as the monsoon season approaches. An interactive map allows people to share the street art and log it online, creating an inclusive urban treasure hunt.


Augmented reality billboards, interactively displaying a glimpse of the project, are set up around the streets before the monsoon season to tease the project and also give people something to look forward to in the rainy days ahead. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]
An online gallery showcases hash tagged (#ProjectMonsoon) photos of the project to extend the experience during and after the monsoon season. Geo-location features allow the gallery to pin point the location of the painting. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]


There is a simple genius at work here… the type which begs the question, “why didn’t I come up with this?”. And yet that is the beauty of the project. It offers untapped potential. Its possibilities are truly endless. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have cities turn into works of art when they are at their worst: rainy, damp, wet and miserable? Imagine what London would look like, for example, if every time it rained it would bloom, offering its inhabitants new surprised.

The creative innovation showcased in Project Monsoon has not gone unnoticed. Its creators have recently – and very rightfully – won both a Black Pencil and a Yellow Pencil at prestigious the 2015 D&AD New Blood awards in London.

We hope this idea spreads out of Seoul and into cities around the world… and for our sake we hope it comes to the UK fast so that we too can begin to enjoy our rainy cities in more colourful and fun ways!


The project recently won the 2015 Yellow Pencil and the 2015 Black Pencil award in the annual D&AD Fresh Blood Awards. [Credits: James Lee, Seungjoon Shin, Yoonshin Kim, Nu Ri Kim]