May 10th, 2016, It's the day I discovered "discomfort," and I can't forget that day.
-[Fingeroo] CEO Jayden Park-
Jayden Park is a brand director who dedicates himself to find the solution through his design, continually observing any difficulties that can be overlooked easily. He is also the owner of "Fingeroo" based in Seoul, Korea. Fingeroo is a kitchenware company that offers products to allow customers to experience better consideration in difficulties using any dishes.
He shared his story about how he started a new brand at a bit late age. And we also talked about we talked about "holding a cup," which is a normal thing with no need to improve but one of the most challenging parts every day for someone, as well as his thoughts on the design.
Q. There seem to be many changes such as product renewal, development, and collaboration. How have you been doing these days?
I have participated Handarty Korea 2021 this summer to present and sell Fingeroo products. Also, I have kept improving the product design to solve any inconveniences that I discovered from each customers' feedbacks and reviews.
I have lots of things on my plate to take care of right now, but I'm spending every day with gratitude and appreciation.
Fingeroo at Handarty Korea 2021
Q. You and I met at Handarty Korea as well. There were so many brands, but Fingerloo's design was impressive enough for me to stop and take a look. What made you create these products?
Haha, it could take a whole day to talk about the motive, but I'll do my best to sum it.
It was on May 10th, 2016, that the idea came to me. I can't forget that day, and I probably won't ever.
As I was walking down the street, a woman from the other side was walking with her cup of coffee placing on her smartphone because she didn't have enough hands to hold her coffee. When I saw her holding the coffee on top of her thousand dollars worth of smartphone and walks cautiously, I thought, 'Ah, is that the only way to carry a cup of coffee?'
So that evening, I crouched down at home and started to draw tons of designs, losing track of time. The one gives freedom to your hands! The first design was a cup sleeve to free your hands, and then it converted to a mug considering environmental issues and sustainability. And eventually, it became Fingeroo it is now.
Q. That's right. I can see your concerns and thoughtfulness in your design. Also, I heard there was an opportunity that made you more assured in the Fingeroo design?
Yes, this is the real story. My team and I were working on Fingeroo's prototype in 2018. When we were still working on it, but the prototype had not been released yet, we had a chance to participate in NY NOW, one of the biggest wholesale trade shows for home and lifestyle. So, we participated in the prototype with the name 'Revolution Mug' at that time. And luckily, we were located at the Korean representative booth, and since then, something like movies has happened to me.
2018 NY NOW
There was a man who visited our booth first after we arrived at the exhibition hall. His eyes were so pure like a child, and he asked me why our mug was a 'revolution mug.' I told him it was because it's a cup that people with disabilities can hold this cup without having to grab it. Then, he said he knew someone who had the same perspective as me and suggested meeting him. It turned out that he was a very famous product designer in New York, and the person he mentioned was the CEO of OXO, the global kitchenware brand(smile). So I had an opportunity to visit the OXO headquarters and discussed lots of positive ideas. That meeting gave me more confidence about the design of Fingeroo.
OXO Headquarters, NYC
Q. There is no doubt Fingeroo is an excellent design since you have won the silver prize at the Seoul International Invention Fair 2018, voted at the Seoul Awards 2019, and earned the Red Dot Design Award 2021. What do you think is the most primary value in design?
It also suited well with OXO in terms of value. I can say that it is to discover, solve difficulties of people with discomfort and make it easy for anyone to use. The found of OXO, his wife suffered from arthritis, and it was challenging and painful for her wherever she used kitchen utensils, so The CEO made it with his wish to solve her experience. So did I. I wanted to discover and solve people's issues with discomfort, and I hope it would be comfortable for everyone to use.
Q. When I used it myself, I was surprised that the grip was good, and it felt much lighter than its weight. Is there a specific reason you decided to have the cube-shaped holder?
There were several holder designs with universal design. But after using it myself, I ended up holding the cup with just a thumb. And it was really comfortable. When thinking thoroughly about the reason, it was how my father held a cup.
My father injured his hand while working at a farm in the countryside. Since then, he had difficulty holding anything because he had no strength in his hand. So he used to hold something with his thumb, and the way I hold the cup with one thumb was the same way my father held it.
After I studied a more stable design to hold a cup comfortable with any finger, I found cube shape was the one. Making this cube shape was such a challenge with a series of obstacles in the manufacturing process. So, I feel so proud when I see customers using Fingeroo conveniently.
* What is Universal Design?
It is a design that creates a product and environment that anyone can easily use regardless of gender, age, nationality, cultural background, or disability. Products and facilities in universal designs are convenient and suitable for not only people with disabilities but also non-disabled people.
Thanks to the shape of the handle,
even though it is made of ceramic, I could hold the mug with much less effort than other cups.
That's why it was easy to put it down gently on the desk without making any noise.😊
Q. When I came to the office, I felt that you were constantly thinking about your product. There are a lot of prototypes in various sizes! Why did you come up with so many different sizes?
Initially, I was only making prototypes for mugs. However, when I met with customers and started selling them, the customers' needs were straightforward.
Someone told me she usually put rice in a mug and heated it in a microwave. So, she bought Fingeroo for her meal because the design is comfortable to use, and the holder doesn't get hot. From there, I got an idea and created it in various sizes, such as Multi Bowls and Range Bowls.
I may create Fingeroo, but one of the biggest motivations Fingeroo came all the way here with customers' favored Multi Bowls and Range Bowls in various sizes is all from our customers' experiences and feedbacks.
Q. But looking around the office, I noticed that you are using Fingeroo as not only a mug or dish but interior accessories.
Yes, there were numerous prototypes, so I place pens on the desk without much thinking at first, and it was convenient. Since the holders are cubicles, I could put them on a cupholder at various angles. So I started to use it as a flower pot and a pen holder. Also, I display small figures and even business cards in the mugs. I think how many different ways to use Fingeroo is limitless.
Q. I heard that you have been doing visual design for 25 years and designed for large companies, such as Orion Corporation. Do you have favorite brands or artists that inspire you?
That's right. I also designed the package of Orion Potato Chips that you all know(Smile). The artist that inspires me is professor Ho-seob Yoon, who was my design advisor from my university. Now, he is working on global environmental issues and sustainability as a green designer. Even though he is almost in his eighties, his eyes are still so much alive and full of energy. He is such an incredible person. I am still learning a lot from him. He always stresses that coexistence, such as barrier-free and environmental issues, is something designers must always keep in mind. Not long ago, I visited his studio to the Red Dot Design Award as if I submitted my assignment to my teacher. He was pleased and so happy with me.