Jy Park (full name: Joong Yeol Park)
Institution: Hongik University, BA (South Korea) and Aalto University, MA (Finland)
Programme: Product Design and Creative Sustainability
Year of Graduation: 2007, 2013
What made you decide to become an industrial designer?
Looking back on my childhood, I used to love to make and draw physical shapes, but I was too young to realize that I could actually make a career out of designing products. Growing up, South Korea’s massive plastics manufacturing industry contributed to the country’s fast growing economy. Because of this, when I completed my undergraduate degree, designing smart gargets, such as a telephone or MP3 player, was my dream as an emerging designer. At that time, I believed that those types of designs represented industrial design. Later, I realized that industrial design is actually one part of a larger design community. I also realized the power of design to change people’s behaviour and culture.
In your opinion, what types of people are best suited for the profession of industrial design?
Industrial design is a problem-solving process. Designers therefore have to have a strong mind to solve problems, with attention to detail.
Where did you study industrial design and what was the most important thing you learned?
I completed my Bachelor of Arts at Hongik University in South Korea, and my Master’s degree at Aalto University in Finland. My Master’s degree was focused on sustainable design. The most important things I learned during my studies were that the local community for which you are designing and systemic approaches are the main components to designing sustainable products.
What do you believe are the major obstacles or challenges for young industrial designers today from a professional standpoint?
Just as new technology brought mass manufacturing to the world in the early 20th century, new technologies such as 3D printing, the compact laser-cutting machine, and the Internet of Things (IoT) concept will also revolutionize the design process. Industrial systems are now moving from mass production to small local production thanks to these new technologies, and industrial designers need to be open to these new trends.
Tell us about the projects you are working on now.
One of my friends and I started a social design venture business in Uganda, East Africa, in 2014. Through my experiences living and researching local culture in Uganda, I realized the importance of clean water for everyone in the community. Poor water conditions can cause, or contribute to, making a number of social problems worse – not only hygienic and sanitation issues, but also educational and gender inequalities as well.
Inspired by this, we decided to focus on solving the problem of children carrying unsafe water in the community. Originally, I believed that rolling water drums could have solved these problems, but local conditions made it hard to apply the rolling drum concept, in addition to challenges such as the cost of the intervention, and the geography of the community, which had hills and rocky conditions.
In order to raise awareness about the issue of children carrying unsafe water, my partner and I then created a unique back-pack, produced locally by underemployed Ugandan women. Our bags are now being produced in Korea and Vietnam as well. You can check out our activities at: www.jerrybag.com.
Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals listed by the United Nations, which do you believe represent the most important challenges facing your generation today?
One of the goals our business tries to cover is water issues, because water is a basic element for human life, and water is of international concern to us all. I think that the rights of children should also be a priority. New generations must support the next generations.