Interview with Sophia Ko and Moonyoung Kim from United States

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Sophia Ko and Moonyoung Kim

Sophia Ko and Moonyoung Kim, who hold the roles of Brand and Graphic Designer and Web & Graphic Designer at KISS Product in New York, joined forces to develop 'Pocket Garden.' This innovative project was born out of their shared desire to create an experience that would enable children to savor the journey of saving money, making it both enjoyable and educational.

Interview With The 2023 London Design Awards Winner – Sophia Ko and Moonyoung Kim

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

Sophia: Born in South Korea, I now call New York my home and hold the position of Brand & Graphic Designer at KISS Product Inc. Previously, I worked at Mimicle and Beyond J as a freelance UI/UX designer. Branding and interactive design are my areas of great interest, and I am truly dedicated to producing individualised solutions.

Moonyoung: I am a product designer with a diverse background in service design engineering and marketing. Presently, I hold the position of Web & Graphic Designer at KISS Product in New York, where I lead a UI/UX project focused on nail measurement. My accomplishments include winning an international brand competition organised by L'Oréal, where I proposed a custom perfume service. Additionally, I have valuable experience as a marketer at Armani Beauty.

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

Sophia:From a young age, I have always enjoyed creating things with my hands or expressing my emotions through drawing. As I grew older, I developed a desire to create on behalf of others, to bring to life what they wanted to express. It was this driving force that led me to pursue a career in design.

Moonyoung: I was inspired by the video where designer Patricia Moore disguised herself as an elderly person for 3 years to design products for seniors. I want to contribute to a world where everyone can live comfortably and I wholeheartedly believe that designers can achieve this.

3Tell us more about your agency/company, job profile, and what you do.
KISS Products is a renowned beauty company celebrated for its diverse and creatively designed range of beauty products, notably artificial nails, eyelashes, and related accessories.

Sophia: I work as a brand package designer in a creative team where I collaborate with art directors and production designers to develop and execute brand design strategies for various projects, such as packaging design, point of purchase, marketing campaigns, and product launches.

Moonyoung: I work as a web designer in a creative team, designing comprehensive visual assets for digital use. Additionally, I actively participate in UI/UX related side projects.

4What does “design” mean to you?

Sophia: I believe the essence lies in crafting something meaningful that has never existed previously. When designers have the ability to generate original content themselves, it leads to the creation of empathetic design.

Moonyoung: To me, design involves the process of redefining problems and then visualising innovative solutions.

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

Sophia: I prefer straightforward and minimalist design that clearly communicates its purpose. After working in UI/UX design and diving into design studies, I've come to appreciate this even more because it's all about thinking from the user's point of view.

Moonyoung: It's funny how I'm drawn to architectural design which is the complete opposite of my work in designing intangible things. There's something incredibly captivating about seeing such grand-scale creations come to life in the real world, it leaves me with an overwhelming sense of awe.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

Sophia: I believe a good design is one where the intention behind it is understood and appreciated by a wide audience.

Moonyoung: A solid design, irrespective of the field, is one that people can grasp without a lengthy explanation, and that's the key difference from art.

7How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?
When we were young and saving money in a piggy bank, I always had an urge to fill it up as fast as possible, just to break open the piggy bank and get to the money. That's why we embarked on this project: to help kids relish the delight of the money-saving journey.

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

We find inspiration from various sources in our daily lives, including the services we use, the advertisements we encounter on the streets, and of course, platforms like Pinterest!

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

We haven't thought about it because we have both lived our whole lives in Seoul, I think it must have had an influence. If given the opportunity, we would like to work on a project utilising South Korea's heritage!

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 both so incredibly grateful and excited for the opportunities to come! For us, this is our first international design award. This accolade serves as the first stepping stone for us to showcase better designs to the world, and it holds significant meaning.

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?

If you're a designer, experiencing or living in London is likely a must. Since the design award took place in a city so rich in artistic inspiration, London, we felt compelled to participate.

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

The main page was absolutely pivotal in our design because our goal was to ensure that children could easily and clearly grasp the layout of the garden. We achieved this by crafting a 3D map that made it feel like you're stepping into a virtual world, making everything simple to understand.

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

Receiving this award has allowed us to discover the possibility that our design can have a global impact. It has undoubtedly instilled a great deal of confidence in us for our future design endeavours and we believe it will lead us to create even better designs.

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

In the design industry, we still find it fascinating to contemplate colours, typography, and layout. It’s our favourite aspect because the combination of these elements can significantly alter the design’s intention and concept, depending on how they are used.

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

Our ‘Pocket Garden’ service is designed differently from other allowance-giving apps in that it allows children to experience being in a virtual world. This aligns with our service’s intention, which is to effectively teach children about economic concepts.

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

Over the next 5-10 years, the design industry will further integrate advanced technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence), AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) to enhance user experiences.

Sustainable and inclusive design practices will become standard, driven by environmental consciousness and the need for accessibility. Cross-disciplinary collaboration and a focus on ethical design will shape the industry, creating innovative solutions that cater to diverse audiences and societal concerns.

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

Through research, you must understand current societal issues and trends. It's important to create distinctiveness from competitors through analysis and express it visually while maintaining its unique design concept.

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

Stay informed about design trends through platforms like Dribbble and Behance, utilise Figma's free courses to enhance proficiency, and focus on honing communication skills to effectively convey and persuade stakeholders about the quality of your designs.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

We’re both open books with no secrets!

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Sophia: I was inspired a lot from Jong-min who is an interaction/creative designer who worked in Google. His designs featured captivating patterns that never felt dull, and I find them refreshing and invigorating. His work has been a wellspring of inspiration for me.

Moonyoung: As a UI/UX designer, Steve Jobs has been a significant source of inspiration due to his visionary approach in seamlessly integrating technology and design. His emphasis on creating intuitive and aesthetically pleasing products has motivated me to strive for innovation and user-centricity in my own design work.

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

Sophia: The key is “just give it a try.” Taking action can lead to either success or failure, but I firmly believe that there is something to gain from it, regardless of the outcome.

Moonyoung: I think it's safer to give something a shot and have the chance of regretting it later, rather than regretting never trying at all.

Winning Entry

Pocket Garden | 2023


Did everyone collect coins in a piggy bank during their childhood? It's likely that many people had the … (Read more at London Design Awards)

Sophia Ko and Moonyoung Kim

Pocket Garden

Sophia Ko and Moonyoung Kim, who hold the roles of Brand and Graphic Designer and Web & Graphic Designer at KISS Product in New York, joined forces to develop 'Pocket Garden.' This innovative project was born out of their shared desire to create an experience that would enable children to savor the journey of saving money, making it both enjoyable and educational.

Read more about this interview with Tianyun Jiang from the United States, the Silver Winner of the 2023 London Design Awards.