say hi to_ MOTE
If you don't already know, I will confess that I have a full fledged obsession with Korean (north and south) design. Korean design has a certain exoticism juxtaposing minimalism and the bright avant-garde.
For me, South Korea is The Netherlands of Asia - in terms of design at least. Playful, experimental and never failing to intrigue. I could go on for ages on the topic of contemporary Korean Design, but unless we're sitting in a pub with a full pint and you can see my exaggerated facial expressions excited mannerisms, I doubt it will be half as fun... and I will save you the eight pages of design nerd discourse.
So not only have we now established that the Korean Design scene gets me hot and bothered, but I also have a strong affinity for supporting young entrepreneurs who work in an artisanal way. This is exactly why I want to feature la crème de la crème of the handmade olfactory objects and experience in Asia, MOTE Seoul. I personally have a stash of soap from budding Korean designer, which I love not only because it is ethically handmade and looks beautiful in my bathroom but because I love the way the shape and form evolve with use to become something entirely different.
I am ever fascinated and encouraged by hearing the stories of other creators and how they took the jump to launch their company and the creative process behind their products or work. I was lucky enough to snag some time with the woman behind the hottest new Korean design brand. Founder and creative director, Vora Jean, sits down and talks to me about what inspired her to create her own brand, how the beautiful and unique candles and soaps are hand crafted in Seoul by artisans after over a year of research and development and how fleeting moments in nature inspired the entire collection.
| Kristen | Can you please introduce yourself and what you do.
| Vora | Hi, I’m Vora, CEO and creative director at MOTE or “Memories Of The Earth”.
My design philosophy is to capture the beautiful moments of the earth into our products.
I see all my life experiences as inspiration and ingredients to my vision.
| Kristen | What is your background in and what made you decide to start making candles and soap?
| Vora | My background is in visual communication design. Initially, I started working as a user interface designer for a gaming company in Tokyo and later, at LG Electronics in South Korea.
After four years designing user interfaces, I began to pursue my own work as a brand designer helping other businesses create a strong brand image connected to their products.
Over time I developed a desire to create my own brand. At first I toyed with the idea of a brand that will invoke a beautiful emotion, and ultimately found my inspiration travelling around the world.
I saw first-hand the beautiful moments on the earth and the emotional response from people experiencing these moments, including myself. Close to nature, there is a sense of calmness, refreshment and happiness.
This had a great impact on my design philosophy. And I wanted to create a product that would be a reminder of these moments. I felt that scent can be used to deliver this emotional response by positively affecting the mood and reminding people of the same moment found in earth. Also, I wanted to create a product that would protect earth so that the beautiful moments will continue to exist in nature. I hope our products can deliver on this message and purpose.
| Kristen | MOTE stands for Memories of the Earth, Can you tell us the idea behind MOTE and how you first got started?
| Vora | MOTE is an artisan laboratory that studies and produces beautiful moments found in the scents, colors and imageries of the earth. Our name is derived from the acronym for “Memories Of The Earth.”
MOTE strives to capture the essence of beautiful but fleeting messages that the earth sends to us. Glancing up at the sky and watching it soak in shades of pink. Standing at the edge of the sea and feeling consoled by the tides. The crisp, fragrant breeze of a late autumn night brushing past your face. The feeling of fresh earth beneath your feet. The occasional crashing of waves and the scent of a dense forest. These occurrences in nature heal our body and soul. I believe that these moments of earth treat people who are now living too busy lives.
In order to create our products, I consulted and team up with some of the best chemists and perfumers in South Korea. Together we started a laboratory and developed the company.
| Kristen | How long did it take you to develop MOTE before you launched? Was it difficult to start your own company?
| Vora | After the initial concept stage, the team conducted countless color and fragrance tests using only organic materials. After a whole year of testing, we developed a distinct layered marbling technique to deliver the highest quality natural ingredient directly to the skin.
"I am both designer and CEO, there were situations in which I had to choose between company profits and design quality.
In both cases, I choose a more difficult path to better reflect the design philosophy and value, believing that the long term result will be that much better."