JC Kim

Chic Beat Design Contest Winner

3. Art & Design-JC KIM earbuds-JC Kim bw

This April, SOMA Magazine proudly held a headphone design contest called Chic Beat. This challenged designers to create headphones for professional young women who have busy schedules and want products that are trendy and versatile to accommodate their busy cosmopolitan lifestyle.

JC Kim, the first place winner in the Chic Beat design contest, surprised the judge with his sleek, metallic gold earbuds. I met JC at a beautiful San Francisco indie café that matched his black clothing and creative vibe. We chatted about his personal stories and career aspirations.

Can you introduce yourself to readers?
My name is JC Kim. I grew straight up in Korea and came to SF to study at Academy of Art University after finishing my military service obligation. At the university, I study Industrial Design.

What is your motive behind entering the Chic Beat design contest?
Ali [Editor-in-Chief of SOMA] came to the class I was in and did a brief about the design contest. I was hooked by the idea of designing a headphone for young professional women. I also wanted to try a project that puts more weight on the design than the functions.

Please walk us through the concepts and inspirations behind your Chic Beat design.
I came up with this idea of designing a headphone that looks like a piece of jewelry. I thought of how young women love to wear chic jewelries, which are never too much but always stand out in their styles. I imagined that this Chic Beat design for young women should be something that can add on to those chic styles. I focused on creating a pretty look when the two earbuds are put next to each other. I wanted to design a whole package of aesthetics that would make the headphones a stylish piece that can be worn for any occasion.

3. Art & Design-JC KIM earbuds-detail2

What is your design philosophy?
I always try to focus on the target users of products. I observe and study how the target users interact with products and [I] come up with a better design for them. I want to help people by solving the problems that happen when using various kinds of products. I aim for a human-friendly design.

Who are your biggest role models?
Dieter Rams taught me a lot. He is such a big figure in the design world that this may sound trite. He is also well known for being a teacher to Jonathan Ive, the Senior Vice President of Design at Apple. His “Ten Principles for Good Design” is very inspiring.

Can you tell us more about what you study at the Academy of Art University?
My major is industrial design, so I study the designs of everyday-life kinds of products that are very close to our human lifestyles. I learn many concepts and theories in lectures, but I spend most of my time doing research and projects. For example, in my most recent project, I worked on developing a dog harness for the breeds that have [a] longer waist and shorter legs, like [the] dachshund. I once read an article on how dachshunds suffer from waist pains when they are walked with [a] normal harness. I am a huge dog lover and I wanted to save poor dachshunds.

What are your career goals?
I want to land a job at a studio for the start. I want to [a] have broad spectrum of experiences, from meeting clients seeking services on many different kinds of design projects. Eventually, I want to find what I want to focus on as a designer and pursue it as my long-term career.

Last but not least, what is your favorite fashion style?
I like [the color] black. This Red Wing walker I am wearing is one of my favorite items and I often style myself just to help the walker shine better.

Text by Taylor Kim