Category Archives: Korean Talent

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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Art Director Ji Young Lee immerses audiences in virtual reality experience ‘Delusion: Lies Within’

When Ji Young Lee was ten years old, her mother took her to the musical Alibaba and 40 Thieves. She was fascinated not only by the magical set, which had a flying carpet, moving cave, exotic Arabic costumes and music, but also by the dynamic reactions the audience displayed. It was then when she fell in love with this strange world created through the set, and that was the day she started to dream of becoming an artist who designs sets. She was amazed by how the set design could create an environment where people could escape from their ordinary lives and mundane scenery and experience a fantasy world. She still experiences this amazement to this day, but the difference is, she is the one creating that feeling for others.

As an internationally sought-after Art Director, Young has realized her childhood ambitions to their fullest. She has put her touch on the award-winning films The Bird Who Could Fly, and The Sacred Mushroom, as well as the new UFC commercial with Academy-Award winner Charlize Theron. She also worked on the upcoming virtual-reality film Delusion: Lies Within, and got to experiment with a whole new world of art direction.

“I’m very strong at telling the story through colors, mood and imageries, which people will see in the set first, and also I love paying attention to detail which is necessary for virtual reality films, because people will look around 360 degrees and walk around and lean forward to see the set and props closer. I like overcoming challenges with a hardworking team,” said Young.

Initially interested in the project because of her enjoyment of interactive theatre, Young knew she wanted the challenge of designing for a virtual reality set. In Los Angeles, there is a popular interactive horror theater show called Delusion, which she had a great interest in. Skybound Entertainment, founded by Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman, decided to produce the virtual reality game version of Delusion into a feature film.

“I had never worked on a virtual reality film before, and I was curious about the process. I also wanted to work on fantastical or surreal set, and I believed Delusion was going to be a great opportunity for me to learn something completely different,” said Young.

During the 1940’s in the American South, Delusion: Lies Within is about the reclusive author Elena Fitzgerald, who built a zealous following with her Stygian Ascent series; an epic of dark fantasy following the life of young Mary on a quest to be rejoined with her mother. To the larger world, Miss Fitzgerald was a beloved novelist, yet to Daniel and Virginia, she was everything. They’ve wept over the lives and deaths of her characters. They’ve dreamt of walking in her world. A world now out of reach as Elena went missing before the fifth and supposedly final book was written. For years there was no sign of Elena. In its place rumors of madness, murder, and something otherworldly persisted. Most of Elena’s fans quietly mourned the loss of a finale yet Daniel and Virginia refused to let go. The worlds, characters and stories must continue. Thus, the two decide that Elena needs their help to finish what she started. To close the chapter on a world left untended. Leaving their grim reality behind, the two begin their search.

“Creating surreal, fantastical and eerie world was my favorite part of the job. There is still some sort of reality that needs to exist in the set, like period furniture or period costumes, to make it believable, but I could be creative and use my imagination. Also, I was so grateful for our art department crews. This was mentally and physically very challenging project, but everyone respected my opinions and worked very hard with positive attitudes until the end. I loved working with them,” said Young.

Young focused on the aesthetic of the set. After reading the script and looking at the production designer’s reference images, she started to come up with the color palette and mood for each set and create art works for the main set dressing, such as murals on the ceilings or paintings, and drafting for certain customized furniture or window. The ceiling murals were very important for the director, and Young made sure to realize his vision. She also maintained a strong line of communication with Production Designer Kevin Williams, who knows after working with her that Young is one of the best.

“Working with Ji is akin to having a second brain. Not only does she instinctively understand the projects that are given to her, but she’s able to add a level of polish and professionalism that enhance the challenges she’s faced with. On set, she maintains a level head and is able to offer up solutions and artistic flourishes that inevitably bring a greater level of depth and beauty to the tasks at hand. I would hire her for any future project without hesitation. Ji is exceptionally detail oriented and focused on delivering a perfect product. Her design instincts are supremely keen and driven to tell the best visual story in her own unique style,” said Williams.

Attendees at the San Diego Comic Con earlier this month had the opportunity to see the feature of Delusion: Lies Within at Skybound Entertainment’s panel, but for those that missed it, the film is expected to be released next year.

JAYDA JEON TRAVELS THE WORLD BY MEANS OF HER INCREDIBLE MUSICAL TALENT

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One of the biggest perks of being a successful musician is that you get to travel and see the world while getting paid and being the center of attention. Doing what you love as a career, exotic locations, good pay, built in respect and admiration; it’s not a bad way to earn a living. Jayda Jeon has travelled extensively as a singer with California’s Liquid Blue whose moniker is “The World’s Most Travelled Band.” Visiting many domestic and foreign destinations has taught her things; some of the most important of which are that people everywhere love great music and travelling internationally can be hard on a singer’s voice. Seasoned through worldwide stage experience, Jayda has written mega-hit pop songs and performed with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. While she has many great stories to tell, she has even more knowledge to share. Her recent trips to Macau typify the exciting life Jeon leads as well as the wisdom that helps her maintain such a productive career.

Tatler is a British Magazine focusing on fashion and lifestyle as well as coverage of high society and politics. It is targeted towards the British upper-middle class, upper class, and those interested in society events. Tatler also offers editions in the native languages of mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The Tatler Ball is a high-class annual meeting where V.I.P. guests and celebrities mingle and socialize. Due to the magazine’s focus on fashion, guests don luxury attire and walk on the red carpet for the press. Everything about this event oozes glamour in every way. If you happen to receive the hand-delivered invitation to this event, you have certainly made it to the elite list because this is an invite that cannot be bought.

Tatler hired Californian band Liquid Blue to appear as the entertainment at the Tatler Ball. As vocalist for the band, Jayda was a main focal point for the evening. Jeon was just as excited as the attendees to be at this event as she states, “This particular show got me really excited since it was an international gig and I had never been to China or Hong Kong. I was really happy that I had the opportunity to perform there.” As part of the Guinness World Book recording holding and Billboard charting Liquid Blue, there was no doubt that the band would wow the crowd but sometimes different cultures can have unexpected reactions. Jayda tells, “Never having been to Macau before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We perform for sold out crowds and do a number of encores in the US and other locations but this was undiscovered territory for us in 2016. I noticed that when we were performing, some of Asian audience members were listening and watching us perform, remaining quiet rather than dancing on the floor. While not the common US crowd reactions, this gesture shows their respect for the performers. In most Asian cultures (particularly East Asian culture), being respectful for others is very important. We understood and appreciated it. After a few drinks, everyone relaxed more and interacted.”

Jeon and her bandmates also performed at the Grand Opening for The Parisian Hotel in Macau. This took place in September of 2016 and was one of the biggest events attended by Hong Kong and Chinese celebrities, and socialites from all over the world. Macau is known as the Las Vegas of Asia; the city of night where all entertainment is going on. The Parisian hotel is a larger version of The Paris hotel in Vegas. Performing pop, hip-hop, and rock music as guests filled the dance floor, the band proved that great music has no language barrier. Many citizens of China speak English because of its prominence in the business world and the availability of English classes. Many of the attendees at both events were fans of US music. (as evidence in this video (http://hk.asiatatler.com/society/the-2016-hong-kong-tatler-ball-the-highlights).

International celebrities such as Joanna Hotung, Vacheron Constantin, Crazy Rouge, Jenny Chau, Feiping Chang, Steve McCurry, Sean Fitzpatrick, Kristine Li, Kent Ho, and other V.I.P. guests not only interacted with the band but, some even found their way onstage to join them.

The entire experience was more than Jayda had hoped for and she adamantly states how much she enjoyed performing there as well as seeing the sights and meeting the people of Macau. She does reveal that the international flights and travel can be especially taxing for a vocalist like herself. She relates, “It is very important for a singer to take care of their health first and foremost because, unlike other musicians who use an instrument, as a singer your body is your instrument. Your voice is very much likely to be affected by your health condition. When you travel, particularly when you’re stuck on a plane for a long time, you are not able to fully recover or sleep well…which hugely affects your condition. Sleeping is the most efficient natural human recovery system for your body. If you cannot sleep well, your body will immediately show it, especially in regards to your voice. Environmental changes also affect your immune system. I’ve had experiences where I was sick during traveling gigs in the past but as I got used to those gigs and searched what I could do to kep my immune system high, I was able to keep my health from intact with these type of routines. I never understood those stories of rock singers going crazy, partying all the time and never taking care of their health; I guess that’s why I’m a professional singer/arranger rather than a rockstar. Ha.”

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