Yang Jin-seok, 49, an architect and interior designer who "creates" skyscrapers with luxury apartments in the Gangnam area of southern Seoul, says that the true meaning of luxury comes when his structures cater to the owner's lifestyle and philosophy.
"In the past, luxury meant the building space and material, but it has changed a lot since then. For instance, people now prefer to buy a small apartment in a pricy downtown area and have a second house in the suburbs, instead of just buying a bigger residence in the city," he said.
Yang, who is better known as the designer for MBC's house remodeling program "Love House," says that the focus of architecture is not on a certain form. It is on the people. In that sense, the upscale skyscraper Tower Palace is not the best building, according to Yang.
"Its design of all-glass walls is a bad choice for a residential-commercial building. Aside from the building and its external beauty, good ventilation, safety and comfort should also be considered," he added.
His customers include celebrities such as singer Kim Min-jong and Texas Rangers' Choo Shin-soo. He studied architecture at Kyoto University in Japan.
Yang, now CEO of the Planning and Architecture Institute, was a former member of the Seoul City Architecture Committee involved in the urban planning of the capital.
Following his involvement in the TV program that remodeled houses for the underprivileged, he became determined to change the city landscape on his own.
"I'm now conducting a 10-week project called NA21, giving lectures to officials and corporate heads on architecture. I believe that those leaders and decision makers in urban planning should learn more about design and city planning so that the whole urban landscape can change."
He has completed four sessions so far.
Yang's own apartment is extremely old. He renovated the 40-year-old apartment, and has lived there for 16 years.
"My dream house would be one that has a large yard, where I can get back to nature," he said. "But that's still way in the future for me."