General Motors Co. opens an advanced design studio in Seoul, South Korea, relocating a similar operation from Bupyeong, Incheon, and tasking the unit with leading global mini- and small-car styling.

The GM Daewoo design studio opens its doors alongside Seoul’s designation this year as the 2010 World Design capital, and GM Global Design chief Ed Welburn says its employees will draw inspiration from the stylish Gangnam area.

Gangnam is considered the nation’s center for culture, arts, fashion and industry. It also ranks as Seoul’s most affluent neighborhood and home to a number of global and Korean brands, trendy clubs and restaurants.

“Our car designers get inspiration from life, and Gangnam is a place where people worship design, style and fashion,” Welburn says in a statement.

“Our Korean designers will sample perfection every day surrounded by some of the top brands and fashion houses in the world, and this ideal location will nurture their creative souls.”

GM Daewoo designers already play a major role in the development of regional and global GM products, most notably having penned the Chevrolet Cruze compact car. The Cruze launched last year and now sells in four regions and 60 countries, with a much-anticipated arrival in the U.S. in the third quarter.

The design team fashioned the all-new Chevy Spark minicar, as well, currently selling in a number of countries and coming to the U.S. on an unconfirmed timetable. The soon-to-be-launched lineup of Chevy Aveo-based subcompact cars also are products of GM Daewoo.

GM now considers the Seoul advanced-design unit, one of 10 design centers worldwide for the auto maker, the new hub for global mini- and small-vehicle development.

GM celebrated the opening studio last night with a party at Seoul’s W Hotel, an event attended by leaders in government, local celebrities and design-industry stars.

As 2010 World Design capital, a designation awarded annually by the Paris-based International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Seoul receives recognition this year for its accomplishments and contributions to the field of design.