Design Director Bonnie Park talks working with the world’s biggest brands

When Bonnie Park was a child in Seoul, South Korea, she was always interested in making things. She would catch herself looking at an object, or a space, visualizing in her head how she might have created it differently. When she was a teen, Park moved to Switzerland and found her love for creation intensified as she immersed herself into such new and enticing architecture. Even the smallest of details became eye-catching works of art, and her simple sketches molded into intricate drawings. This was where Park’s journey in design began.

Now, she is internationally celebrated for her work as a Design Director, collaborating with some of the world’s largest brands. Working with CS Global, a worldwide agency delivering strategic brand consulting and integrated production, design, film and lighting services for live event, print, digital, television and travel retail, Park is well-known for bringing the visions of her clients to life, be that through fashion shows, product launch events, gala dinners, private dinners, social activations, press previews, photo shoots, and more.

Park’s process begins when her clients share the experience that they hope to generate for their guests. From there, she brainstorms with her design team, producers, and lighting designers to exceed her client’s expectations. This requires Park to coordinate many different aspects of design. For instance, she has to communicate her design with the scenic vendors who are responsible for building her drawings and renderings. She also searches for new technologies and materials to use that fit within the client’s budget, as well as keeping on top of trends that will satisfy both her clients and her guests. It is an overwhelmingly challenging role, but Park does it with ease.

“As stressful as my job can be, it is extremely satisfying when you see your work come to life. Looking at your finished product makes all of the troubles and obstacles along the way disappear. In my opinion, an effective leader knows not only how to bring people together, but how to help them work together harmoniously. In my line of work, I’m exposed to so many different professionals and as a result of that, I get to learn about areas within the industry that I’m not always as familiar with. I think that is the best part of my job – despite all of my experience, I am continuously learning and there are always new challenges for me to solve,” said Park.

The truly remarkable part about Park’s career, however, is the rate at which it has grown. When CS Global was exposed to her talents, they offered her a position in the company as a design intern immediately. From there, in just five short years, she has become their Design Director. In this position, she is responsible for managing teams and is given full creative freedom to execute her ideas.

During her time working with CS Global, Park has been involved in several major projects with world renowned brands. In fact, a highlight of her career was working on an event for Tiffany & Co., when they celebrated the 175th anniversary of their Blue Book Collection. Working with her team, they built their iconic Tiffany jewelry box on top of the New York’s Rockefeller ice rink. The surrounding building was lit in Tiffany blue, and the result was extremely impressive. Inside, all of the furniture was custom made, as the evening was inspired by 1920s architecture and style. There were cigarette girls, and the band The Rockettes performed with an aerialist in the air. Park had to largely consider the technical side for the project, and learn how to have an event in a public space, something that attendees don’t typically have to consider at such an event.

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Daniel Gabriel and Bonnie Park at the La Perla event, photo by Dimitrios Kambouris

Such consideration was also required when Park designed an entire life-size, two-story doll house with six different rooms for a La Perla event. She had weeks of limited sleep in her determination to execute the perfect design. Each room had its own theme, such as the study and the foyer with the grand faux marble staircase, the bedroom that was covered in moss and baby’s breath, the dining room with custom flower chandelier and swings, the living room with oversized paper flower art work, and the terrace wrapped in ivy and bougainvillea. Despite the fact that her team encountered several obstacles, Park managed to pull the project together with a high degree of efficiency and professionalism.

“Initially, this event was more daunting than doing your taxes alone. Bonnie’s intellectual focus, educated background on interior design, professional background of event design, leadership skills and general modest, human and strong disposition turned a nightmare event into a project to be proud of,” said Kevin Bova, Production Director at SBI. “My main objective in this industry is to only work with people that I respect on both a professional and emotional level. Work is work, but if I have the opportunity to make work a little more enjoyable, I will take it. Bonnie seems to structure her professional persona with a foundation of strength and respect. She treats those who work with/under her as her equals, while controlling each situation with incredible ease. Her disposition creates an environment where people are eager to collaborate, which in turn yields the best possible result without the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ that others in her position use to create what she does effortlessly.”

Bova and Park have worked together on many projects during her time at CS Global, and Bova knows that no matter what the Design Director works on, it is formidable. When Park worked on the 10th Year Anniversary of the Black Orchid Event with Tom Ford Beauty, she transformed the gallery space at the Christie’s. It was a regular gallery space, with white walls and a wooden floor which she turned into an elevated, high end pop up for guests to immerse into Tom Ford’s vision of Black Orchid. Park and her team created three different rooms. In the first room, the walls were covered by screens projecting videos and created an infinity box, whereby guests had an immersive experience learning about the birth of the Black Orchid. Park’s aim was to transport the guests to the world of Black Orchid. The second room introduced the campaign model for the first time, for which Park created a peekaboo wall which invited the guests to peak through a gap and watch the campaign video. In addition, it prohibited the editors from sharing the content on social media, as it was yet to be revealed to the public. In the last room, a touch screen table revealed the Black Orchid’s ten-year evolution, creating an interactive experience. It was an instant success.

Internationally, Park has had the same effect. She travelled to Shanghai for a private internal event for Estée Lauder. As the Design Lead, she created the overall layout and the flow of the evening, the printed graphic collateral, as well as custom designed furniture.

“It was exhilarating studying the existing architectural details that I applied to designing the custom furniture. It was my first time designing furniture and the experience was unlike anything I had ever done in the past,” said Park.

Park also has skills in merchandising, showcasing the jewelry line for Jennifer Meyer, the first time this happened at New York’s Fashion Week. Park explored different and unique ways to showcase the jewelry, and the feedback from both the press and the client were overwhelmingly positive.

Her skills are becoming legendary in New York City and the rest of the world, and Park has no plans on slowing down. Her designs carry her character, and she constantly exposes herself to different art forms in order to keep growing, and to keep bringing her clients something different every time. She encourages others to follow in her footsteps, and knows the power that creation can have.

“Travel and expose yourself as much as possible to any form of art, whether you choose to cook, to dance, to perform, to write, or whatever else you enjoy. Always allow yourself to be curious and inspired. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail or change. Search for your strengths and weaknesses because once you know what they are, you’ll know exactly what you need to work on. You cannot be good at everything, but you can absolutely be good at something,” advised Park.

“Also, confidence is key. Don’t doubt your abilities. If things don’t work out, find a work-around and run with it. Don’t dwell on things that don’t go as you planned. You may think you have failed, but you haven’t. It simply wasn’t meant to be, and that is all part of the learning process,” she concluded.

Featured Image by Rosanna Bach

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