If you visit Itaewon’s new cafe Flee Flee (and we recommend you do), it’s likely that the first thing you’ll notice is its unique 3D storefront sign. As you approach, the sign appears to change with each step. From far away, the letters appear stacked on top of one another. Draw closer, and you’ll see the letters begin to move apart until “Flee Flee” becomes legible. Stand directly in front of the building, and the letters look like eight white rectangles with planes jutting forward. The interactive, shape-shifting type on Flee Flee’s storefront represents not just the cafe’s name but also its dynamic nature.
Flee Flee isn’t just your average “coffice” (coffee + office) but rather a multi-functional space for making, displaying, viewing and purchasing creative works. The concept is “flea market” (which explains the cafe’s intriguing name). The shelves in the window and along the wall will soon be filled with the work of local artists and designers, though they are conspicuously empty now. At the moment, each unit contains only a numbered piece of paper, indicating monthly rent in cups of coffee. So, for example, if a unit has a card reading “15,” a purveyor can lease that cell for the same price as fifteen cups of coffee. The value of each unit is carefully determined based on visibility, as shown in numerous infographics on the walls.
The shelves go on sale this Saturday, February 18, and it’s likely they’ll fill up fast. A deal this good is hard to beat, since the monthly rent is fixed and does not include a percentage of the artists’ profits. Whatever the artists earn from sales is theirs to keep—Flee Flee will deduct no portion. Whether you’re a local creative looking for exposure or a conscious consumer looking to patronize the arts, Flee Flee’s market concept seems to be a win-win situation.
Of course, Flee Flee is still a cafe, too. The menu, which looks like a giant receipt and demands “OPEN YOUR WALLET,” playfully reminds guests that they are there to get some coffee, after all. Flee Flee offers all the standard espresso drinks, juices and snacks like toast and cake. There are a few surprises, like the pastel macaroons and 9,500 won craft beers, though Flee Flee’s selection is mostly what you’d expect.
The abundance of metal and concrete give the space an industrial feel, seeming to encourage visitors to get to work. Flee Flee is spare and low-lit (which is not to say it’s cold or dark). It’s the kind of place you’d see a designer hunched over his laptop, clicking and musing between sips of coffee and drags from his cigarette. (It’s worth noting that Flee Flee is all-day smoke-friendly, which is great for some but not so good for people with allergies.)
Flee Flee can be whatever you need, whether a home for your handmade crafts, a gift shop for the art lover in your life, an office, or simply a place to chat with a friend. Be sure to stop by and reserve your shelf or browse some of the freshly stocked goods next week. (And might I recommend a Chai latte while you’re there!)