Interview with Min Jea Seo and Darae Kim from the United States

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Min Jea Seo and Darae Kim

Min Jea Seo and Darae Kim, both user experience designers, collaborated to create 'dot.,' offering a refreshing perspective on menstruation for women. Their goal is to deliver a reliable product that empowers women to utilise their menstrual blood as a health-check tool.

Interview With The 2023 London Design Awards Winner – Min Jea Seo and Darae Kim

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

Min: I am Min Jea Seo, a User Experience Designer with a diverse portfolio spanning industries like finance, membership (identity and privacy) and medical technology. I have held design roles at renowned companies such as Yahoo and Amazon.

Darae: I'm Darae Kim, a UX designer at Amazon based in Silicon Valley. Originally from South Korea, I moved to the United States in 2017 to dive deeper into interaction design, emphasising human-centred principles.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

Min: I've always had a passion for understanding user behaviours and crafting solutions that enhance their experiences. The creative process of design allows me to merge my analytical skills with creativity, making products more intuitive and user-friendly.

Darae: From a young age, I've been captivated by design and art. My father was a passionate enthusiast of Korean traditional painting known as "Sa-gun-ja" and often crafted his own pottery, sharing these passions with me. These cherished memories ignited my interest in art and design.

Pursuing a career as a designer felt not only like fulfilling a dream but also a natural progression for me.

3Tell us more about your agency/company, job profile, and what you do.

Min: In my current role as a Senior Product Designer at Yahoo, I specialise in improving the user experience of privacy features and internal tools. As a designer, I aspire to broaden my knowledge by delving into various sectors and industries, continually seeking new perspectives.

Darae: I'm currently a member of Amazon's Design and Service Group, where my primary responsibility revolves around enhancing the user experience for the Echo device family integrated with Alexa. Throughout the past several years, I've played a significant role in shaping end-to-end user experiences, contributing to the successful launches of new devices and the development of innovative Alexa features.

4What does “design” mean to you?

Min: To me, design is the bridge between user needs and innovative solutions. It's about understanding challenges and crafting intuitive, functional, and aesthetically pleasing experiences that resonate with the target audience.

Darae: Design, to me, is a powerful form of communication that transcends mere aesthetics. It embodies the creator's intent while speaking directly to the user's emotions and perceptions. Maybe something like road signs: their clarity and design can mean the difference between clear direction and confusion.

In today's digital age, design decisions dictate what captures attention amid a sea of information. In essence, through design, we bridge the gap between intention and understanding, making it an essential tool in our interconnected world.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

We have a special affinity for user experience design, given its pivotal role in shaping user interactions and determining overall satisfaction with products.

However, our passion extends to diverse design realms, including interior, fashion, furniture and so on. It's fascinating to observe the contrasting approaches between digital and physical product design.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

We define a “good design” as user-centric, intuitive, and meets the business goals all while enhancing the user's experience. It should be adaptable, future-proof and offer a seamless experience across platforms.

7How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?

We often immerse ourselves in various media sources for inspiration and make it a point to discuss our findings with everyone we encounter, valuing their perspectives. Such interactions frequently spark new ideas for us.

The concept for this entry emerged in a similar fashion, sparked by a conversation we had about menstruation and picket lines in New York, which we came across in various articles.

8What was your main source of inspiration for this design?

We cherish our personal experiences and equally appreciate insights from articles, books, and conversations with others. We believe inspiration could be anything around us.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

We draw inspiration from many different sources and cultural heritage is something we deeply respect. South Korea stands out globally in design, particularly due to its unique aesthetics and philosophy. Even though we're based in the United States, we actively keep an eye on South Korean design trends to enhance our understanding and appreciation.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the London Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

We're delighted to receive recognition from the design community, as it validates the dedication we've poured into our design endeavours. It's truly heart-warming to know that our work is reaching design enthusiasts worldwide. This is incredibly exciting for us!

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 London Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

'dot.' presents a refreshing perspective on menstruation for women. Our ambition is to provide a dependable product that enables women to utilise their menstrual blood as a health-check tool.

Imagine a compact health assessment that examines aspects such as womb condition and blood sugar levels without incurring the expenses of a clinic visit. We believe that periods can offer advantages to women rather than a source of discomfort.

Despite the fact that many women endure over 3,000 days of discomfort and expenses on menstrual products, it's often a topic left unspoken in public. If we can highlight the potential benefits, we might shift the narrative from mere discomfort to positive empowerment.

12What were the main challenges you faced during the design process, and how did you overcome them?

Min: Being a man, I initially had a very limited understanding of menstruation and the challenges it can pose for women. As a UX Designer, I believe it's vital to step into the user's shoes, grasping the frustrations of the opposite gender presented a challenge that contributed to my growth.

I'm proud of tackling this challenge and I hope this project encourage society to reflect on the subject too.

Darae: Expanding on that, this project involved conducting numerous interviews with people from all over the world to gain insights into menstruation. Even though these interviews were held virtually and in private, it was evident that many participants felt a bit uncomfortable discussing their experiences, possibly due to the sensitive nature of the topic.

Therefore, we put a great deal of effort into establishing trust and ensuring they felt at ease when sharing their stories.

13How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?

Once more, we believe this acknowledgment motivates us to continue our endeavours. We'll persist in our search for innovations and strive to connect with customers through our design.

14What are your top three (3) favourite things about our industry?

Dynamic evolution, human central focused and cultural influence.

15What sets your design apart from others in the same category?

Our designs are deeply influenced by South Korean heritage, blending unique cultural aesthetics with modern trends. At the heart of our work is a strong commitment to understanding the user and this user-centricity is paired with a dedication to innovative thinking, fuelled by rich discussions both inside and outside the design realm.

Collaboration and continuous learning are key drivers, ensuring our designs remain both relevant and ground-breaking.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

The design industry is poised for rapid evolution, largely driven by advancements in technology and shifts in user behaviour. Augmented and virtual reality will likely reshape interfaces, making immersive and spatial design essential. Sustainability will become paramount, with designs emphasising eco-friendliness and longevity.

Additionally, as AI and machine learning become more integrated, designers will need to balance automation with human-centric principles.

Finally, with the world becoming more interconnected, there'll be a greater emphasis on inclusive design, catering to a global and diverse user base.

17What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create award-winning designs?

We have confidence that all designers are excelling in their roles. We believe that persistence and unwavering commitment are keys to a successful project.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

Actively seeking inspiration is beneficial. Pouring into design books and diverse articles can be fascinating, we always do that too. Moreover, staying attuned to the latest trends can also serve as a significant source of inspiration.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

Well, we've often said to others that our cat is a little chubby, not fat. But, well, I suppose we need to admit the truth – she's indeed quite plump.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Many people around us, including family, co-workers, mentors, and mentees, influence us. We're often shaped by those in my immediate surroundings.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

While we don't consider ourselves successful just yet, but we certainly we are on that path. A quote that resonates with us is, “So good they can't ignore you”.

Winning Entry

dot. | 2023

dot. - Min Jea Seo and Darae Kim

dot. is a smart menstrual cup service to manage women’s health. The service includes a mobile app, smart menstrual … (Read more at London Design Awards)

Min Jea Seo and Darae Kim

Min Jea Seo and Darae Kim, both user experience designers, collaborated to create 'dot.,' offering a refreshing perspective on menstruation for women. Their goal is to deliver a reliable product that empowers women to utilise their menstrual blood as a health-check tool.

Read more about this interview with Chia Min Liu for Digital Desires, the Gold Winner of the 2023 London Design Awards.