He decided to become a designer at the age of 16, and studied industrial design at Seoul National University and the University of Illinois. He worked at different design companies in Chicago, which helped him to go in the design working field. In 1986, he established INNODESIGN in Silicon Valley and in 1999, INNODESIGN Seoul was made. His company operates internationally with branch offices in many different cities around the world, such as Beijing and Tokyo.
Kim YoungSe has received many international design awards, such as IDEA, red dot, Japan’s Good Design Award and many more. One of INNODESIGN’s famous works is the LG smart phone which was chosen as Best Product of 2000 by Business Week. He has also designed items such as MP3 players and mobile phones for Samsung e.g. Samsung’s Anycall phone. INNO’s mission is to bring creative and innovative solutions to the problems of their clients.
He is widely known for his successful projects, designs and for winning awards but also for his passion and interest in the meaning of design. He has quoted:
“The best design is yet to come!”
“The beginning of design is love. That’s the only way to move consumers, beyond just satisfying them. If moving consumers is the aim of any business, a business has to start from love, in the spirit of design.”
“A designer should be able to design with the sense of a businessman, and a businessman should be able to do business with the sense of a designer. That’s what the design business is all about.”
“I wouldn’t have had such a hard time if I hadn’t tried to make something new. I wouldn’t have had the hardship of borrowing money, the ordeal of sleeping in a small rented car by the highway to travel to the factory, or the embarrassment of sitting in a small stall at the trade show. But it’s important to remember ‘no pain, no gain.’ The only way to overcome difficulty is to put your heart into what you’re doing. There is truth in the old saying ‘Sincerity moves heaven.”
He was asked to name the hardest time in his career, and his answer is: “Now. I don’t ever remember a time without any difficulties.”
Kim YoungSe’s designing story began when he wanted to buy a golf bag, but he could not find one that he liked, and so he designed one, called ‘ProTech’ and decided to produce it himself. In an interview, he said: “In those early days of INNODESIGN, I was embarrassed overseeing sales at our stall, along with other inexperienced staff. Then one day, I met someone who rescued me. It was William Sauey, president of Flambeau, a major American company for plastic products. ‘You seem to be a very creative young designer. Why don’t you concentrate on design work and leave production and sales to me,’ he suggested. The next day, we made a design license contract, giving Flambeau the rights to production and sales with INNODESIGN receiving 8 percent in royalties.”
INNODESIGN was establish and got its own building in Palo Alto, in 1997. ProTech was the brand he created that gave him his first IDEA award.
On his company’s website, this very inspirational paragraph was featured on it:
For Kim, design is not just an option for technology and marketing; when it is based on love and understanding of the consumer, design can make people dream of the future and change their lives. If a designer works based on such understanding, the product cannot fail to gain recognition from the consumer. This is the belief and core strategy of INNODESIGN (www.innodesign.com).
One reason why I like this artist is that he has a positive attitude towards his work and he is always looking for new ways to improve his works. I find this very motivating to other designers and also to ordinary people who want to achieve their goals and dreams.
Also, one of his key interests is to establish a brand image of Korea. I like the fact that there are still people around, who have an interest in their own cultures and identities and use their own creative ideas to show the history and culture of their country and heritage through various ways to educate people around the world. Kim YoungSe is one of them. As he is concerned about Korea’s image and wants to showcase the culture and history of Korea, he began the T Line project, which a collection inspired by the Taegeuk symbol on the Korean flag. All of these products are cultural as they feature the symbol, and has been developed with the help of the Cultural Foundation of the National Museum of Korea.
Taegeuk is the symbol that makes up the centre of the South Korean Flag, which is called the Taegeukgi (gi = flag). Taegeuk means “Grand Ultimate” or “great polarity” and is associated with the Taoist philosophical values. There are also four of eight trigrams present, Sagwe. They each represent one of the four elements.
The “geon” trigram (☰) represents the heaven, spring, east, and justice. The “gon” trigram (☷) symbolizes the earth, summer, west, and vitality, the “gam” trigram (☵) the moon, winter, north, and wisdom, and the “ri” trigram (☲) the sun, autumn, south, and fruition. The white colour of the background symbolizes the integrity and peace-loving nature of the Korean people.
On the 4th-6th November 2013, 2013 Korea Brand & Entertainment Expo took place at Old Billingsgate, in London, with the aim of exploring business opportunities and to build common ground in Culture and I.T Creative industries between South Korea and Europe. This Expo showcased the different aspects and exports of South Korea from fashion and product designs to the latest technology. It was a great opportunity for the public to see what South Korea has to offer. 2NE1 was appointed as the official ambassador for this event. They performed, had a fansign event and gave speeches. There were also PSY and 2NE1 Hologram concerts and a CJ E&M section, where there was a DJ mixing the latest K-Pop songs.
I had the chance to visit this expo and I came across many familiar brands such as SAKUN, which many K-Pop idols wear. I also came across design companies I did not know anything, such as INNO.
T LINE by INNO
T LINE by INNO is a hybrid design of the traditional side of Korea and the modern, by combining the designs of the South Korean flag into all of the brand’s items.
I won a free sketchbook from a raffle with the Sagwe designs on the front, like in the photo below:
A short preview of what the T LINE BY INNO was like at the Expo:
INNODEVICE shows technology with a twist, as the design of some products, especially the headphones, are very unique, as design and technology have both been used to create this product, for a fresh new style of headphones, never seen before.
Many K-Pop idols, shows and music videos show INNODEVICE.
SHINee’s Key wearing the INNODEVICE headphones with Kim YoungSe.
Other works include, the designing of a whisky bottle. The inspiration behind the design is the following. He quoted, ‘”I’ve lived in the United States for many years. One day, I saw Taegeukgi and felt Korean flexibility from the circle at the centre and faithfulness from black rectangles on its four edges. As a person who loves Korea a lot, I wanted to embody my affection toward my home country on the bottle.”
In many of Kim YoungSe’s interviews and lectures, he speaks a lot about visionaries being a great role model for future leaders. A visionary is a person who recognises future value in the present through the power of imagination. In his books, “Innovators are the Creators of Trends” and “Visionaries Control the Future,” he mentions about his methods for creativity.
Although things were not easy at the start, INNODESIGN has now become a award-winning, innovative company that sells very unique products and is getting international attention.
Here are some links with more information about Kim YoungSe and his works. Please check them out:
KIM YOUNGSE’S TWITER: https://twitter.com/YOUNGSEKIM
ACME Studio website with some of Youngse Kim’s Taeguk and Taeguk II products: http://acmestudio.com/the-family/shop/Young-Se-Kim-522/
Some products designed with the Taeguk symbol: http://us.aving.net/news/view.php?articleId=103779
A recent project done by Kim YoungSe in 2013: