Interview with Gyudeog Kim from INNUS KOREA about shoe design, successes and working culture
Innus Korea is specialised in the design of shoes. The company expresses technical and marketing elements in shoe design. Gyudeog Kim, design director and managing director of Innus Korea, loves shoes and masters the art of design. Because of these interests, Gyudeog has been a shoe designer for 26 years. He wants to develop KI into an international shoe brand that embodies the eastern philosophy and its values.
Red Dot: How would you describe your design research?
Gyudeog Kim: At the beginning of design research stands the understanding of people and the environment. When you study design, you should get an insight into the future life of the people in a society.
How do you recognise that a product is well designed?
I pay attention to whether the inner and outer values of a product are balanced and whether the product successfully reflects the philosophy of the brand and thus touches people.
Have you personally benefited from the preparations for a major project?
For a project you need to have an intense interest and passion from the very beginning. Perhaps the result is not perfect. But when we do our best to be satisfied with the result, you get the feeling that you have achieved something. A breakthrough depends on how you perceive the problem and the attitude with which you solve the problem.
What was the greatest moment in your design career?
I have designed a range of footwear for global sports and outdoor brands both at home and abroad. But the most meaningful and valuable experiences were winning the Red Dot: Best of the Best in the Red Dot Award: Product Design, which is the most important design award in the world for KI, and the Grand Prize and Gold Prize at the DFA (Design for Asia) Awards.
The design school never ends, at least not for great designers. How do you learn and how do you expand your knowledge and expertise?
Most designers have great ideas and imagination. I’m not so sure about the execution. By putting what we see, hear and learn into a form with our talents, and by taking on the challenge of realising ideas and fantasies, we become more mature.
What is the most important aspect of your work culture?
“Communication” is the most fundamental and important element in corporate culture. It is like the air we breathe.
How do you decide who gets which tasks?
We are a design company, but we have divided the structure into three parts: the design team, the marketing team and the management planning team. These adaptations reflect individual inclinations and expertise and focuses on improving the quality of work rather than increasing workloads.
How do you prioritise competing functions?
It is important to understand the nature of the problem. The focus is on direction, not on speed.
How do you work with engineers?
Designers need to be a kind of control center, have an understanding of technology, provide a lot of basic data and they need to have the ability to influence each other.
How do you say no to people?
The best way is to provide evidence when something is wrong. If that doesn’t work, persuasion based on logic is the second best option. Then one must argue until the others understand.