If you have been following what I’ve been doing, you must have noticed that I’ve been designing fashionable computing projects, integrating circuit boards into fabrics, light emitting parts, sewing clothings and etc. I’ve been also teaching Interaction Design Studio which is a 4 hour studio class that is made of mainly a short lecture, discussion & workshop or presentation. Although this class isn’t about wearable computing, I guess my background does influence some students’ works. There have been so far two wearable computing projects in my class last year.

One was final project in Spring semester – first semester I taught there.

The first one is titled, “Mask of Emotion” by Chisong Ryu, Changhee Kim and Jiyoun Kim. it’s an Emoticon Mask basically – it’s documented well at (sorry it’s in Korean)

I think this project really reflects today’s culture of emotional communication. It was a 5, 6 week assignment during first semester, 2007.

The second project I want to introduce is a more technically elaborated project called, “HearT-shirt” by Hyunsoo Hong & Jinyoung Lee- created during the fall semester in 2007. Here is also a nice documentation (sorry it’s in Korean again)

They integrated tiny surface mounting LEDs into plastic pearl buttons to attach on the T-shirts, which made me speechless as I could imagine all the work that went to solder hair thin legs. Hyunsoo later made DMDuino (Arduino clone for DMD students – limited edition) with Jinhwan Kim. (Those were hand soldered.)

Anyway, here is the photo. It uses Xbee Wireless communication to detect if they are located within 50 meter range . When they do, their shirts light up in a heart shape! The couple can find each other surprisingly when they are near with each other if they went to public places without planning to meet. It’s a fun concept. This was a 9 weeks assignment.


I’ve been thinking about showcasing some of my students’ work at my blog… as we are running multiple community blogs as they are documenting their design process for requirement.

This afternoon, I’ve gotten a delightful email from a student of mine which starting as, “how’s your weekend? ….” He is graduating this semester and he is running a weekly physical computing workshop among students at Digital Media Design department. I’m aware that they also started a weekly discussion meetings. Good kids. All they needed was a little motivation. 🙂

Anyway, I was delightfully happy to see the first result. After introducing arduino workshop last semester (thanks, David & Tom for your support!) students got really excited for different possibilities. Now, from sophomores to seniors are gathering on their own to create something at their physical computing workshop. For design school where students mostly depended on their visual art abilities, this is a significant change and for interaction designers who design for 5 senses, it’s a good direction to go.

Their first group project is called, “Happier Tears” A simple group portrait. <see above movie> It was hung in 4th floor hallway of our building without any approval ahead of time – a guerrilla exhibition. Go students! I told to Leo(leader of this group) that he can throw a guerrilla exhibition in front of my office. 🙂

* Note about “Happier Tears” – I think, this title is based on Happy Tears” by Roy Lichtenstein which has become a scandalously famous art piece in Korea by Roy Lichtenstein because of recent incident regarding Samsung Group’s Executive’s wife’s purchase of “Happy Tears” which raised a suspicion of money laundering. Read this article if you are not sure what this is about.

Stir It On! – Interactive Fashion Technology Art

Stir It On! is a story about my experience of swimming at the bioluminescent bay at night. Imagine waves of dark ocean water under starry sky and millions of tiny organisms illuminate when they are stirred up. This is also my comments on social experience in Seoul public space. (ah, that’s another blog entry there.)

more about the project here >>

SIO(Stir It On!) prototype version 1.0 (inactive, back)Stir It On! active

My first prototype version 1.0 of Stir It On! had its debuit on the runaway at Social Fabrics, Dallas, TX. Am I happy about the result? I feel neutral about it. I’m glad that I had this exhibition so that I could force myself to really complete first prototype and at the same time, I’ve encountered many more problems with my design of this prototype which I haven’t thought out during sketching interaction design process.  Immediately my mind was already so full of different ideas of how to tackle these newly found challenges…also different ideas of design and surface treatment of the skirt… and more.  I’m ready to go back to my sketch pad again to fix the prototype 1.0 and make it into 1.1. It never ends, huh?  Actually, this thing has just begun.

I have met some interesting groups from different part of the world who showcased their wearable projects. It’s always interesting to watch how other artists approach wearable projects. (That is another blog entry again… I suppose. I’ve been slacking in my blogs…I know!)

I had this idea since my short trip to Viequez Island, Puerto Rico in Oct 2006. I’ve been sketching my Stir It On! skirt ideas for almost over a year. I started to play with arduino board and touch sensors during summer of 2007 and I got into the production stage at the beginning of Nov 2007. I started to collect different materials that I could possibly use in creating this piece. I planned to work on it extensively but, it wasn’t going to happen after my accident and I couldn’t get hold of my sewing machine until few days before my departure. I have done some LEDs & beeds stitching on the 2nd layer of surface on the textile pattern I cut for the skirt by the time I arrived to LA.

It was quite a challenge to finish a wearable project at a temporary location (kitchen at my brother’s apt in Hermosa Beach, CA) not to mention that I was doing it all by myself. I have no collaborator this time around. Making a skirt itself is a tedious procedure, especially Stir-It-On! which requires many different layers of fabric and hand sewing beeds & 65 LEDs with conductive treads and fabric. On top of that, working with the circuit board, wiring, soldering, programming and testing where I kept finding missing electronic parts. By the time, my skirt was shaping, I knew where 5 different RadioShack are located near Hermosa Beach and a very good you-name-it-you-find-it electronic shop, thanks to Tom’s friend, Casey’s reference.

When I arrived in CA 2 weeks before the show, I knew I had to discipline myself to focus on this project. Believe or not, I haven’t even walked at the beach for 2 weeks of my stay at Hermosa Beach. I looked at it from a block away as I get my daily cappuccino & bagel… I woke up at 8:30 am everyday to start a day and worked until 1, 2, or 3 am if that was necessary. I didn’t drink more than a glass of wine if I went out & I limited my social activities, which is hard for me as you would know if you knew me… 3 days before the deadline, I had to look for a 10 MHz crystal and one day before, the only needle in my sewing machine broke in half – which never happened before. I had to get a taxi and get needles from the sewing machine store since I didn’t have a car during day. I felt like I was having an obstacle after an obstacle constantly after my accident of getting second degree burns on my legs.  Therefore, I started to worry tremendously every little things for close future & I felt like nothing would go right. Then some point, I’ve realized that I’ve got to stop worrying about things that hasn’t happened or out of my control. That’s when I made a peace with myself.  I was slowly finding back my usual optimism.

The night before the show in Dallas, the frame of my only pair of eye glasses broke…(I’m wearing them at the very moment which is taped for time being.) Also, 6V batter DC power was acting somewhat inconsistently compared to USB power source. However, I didn’t panic or got stressed. I was rather calm. I just did as much as possible. Tested a bit & soldered a wire that was broken at the backstage. The prototype version 1.0 was partially working and that is better than not working. That is a start for me. I have a lot of work to do to get this piece to be where it supposed to be. I’m excited again.

I was detinitely tired and stressed but, I was glad that I’ve made it. On the returning flight to LA, I was watching light blue shades of soft clouds and light streams of traffics on the road that looked like blood streams in microscope… I felt excited to feel the beauty of nature right next to the man made structures. I was content again. For me, creating fashion technology art is about the process, not necessarily about the final product. I find it important how I experience in creating it as much as how the wearer experiences by wearing it.  It’s all about process and I should enjoy the experience fullest whether it’s hard work or play.

I haven’t updated my blog for over last two months. Wow, I’ve been that busy. No wonder I got so sick… anyway, here is a quick updates on things – short and sweet.

motion graphic of whattoo card
Left: An Interactive Tree: interactive project by students
Right: Motion Graphic of Gostop(WhaToo) Cards (Digital Media Design Dept, BFA)

We had a senior’s graduation exhibition during early October after painstaking procedure of reviews by us(teachers) during last 6 months. There were 81 students involved and 51 projects were installed. The exhibition was divided into 3 categories; Interaction Design, Information Design and Motion Graphics. I had to advise the most of Information Design students (They had no idea that my background is more toward Interaction Design… thanks to no communications inside) and some Interaction Design students(since they take my Interaction Design course anyway.) The show was really well received once it was opened and I was very impressed about a fact that no interactive installations broke down during 5 days of the show, which is even hard to pull off for professional media artists. I ruined my stomach but, it was rewarding to see the fruitful result of students’ work.

budda  sideview

Miniature like scenary

above photos are from a visit to Suraksan with my brother. It was lovely despite of my handicap of not being able to eat nor hike. I was really glad to make a trip away from the city with him.

I had many many visitors during September and October.

Not to mention the return of my cool friend, David from the Arduino group and Rania from china and my new media artist friend, Michael Yuen from Austrailia during September. Both Rania and Michael came to my school and gave us a special lecture titled, “Media Arting for the S(e)oul: My Phone Only Speaks Korean” & inspired many students stuyding Interaction Design and Media Arts.

During October, I’ve met another friend of a friend, Leonard but, my brother and his friend were visiting at the same time so I could only spare one evening to him. We had a good dinner and talk near Hongik University area though.  My old best friend from age thirteen, Y is visiting Seoul from Tokyo this weekend.  It’s been 7 years since last time we met so it was really great to hang out with her yesterday.

The unnecessary school works are increasing as days go so, my free days are becoming less and less and I could hardly pull a day off nowadays. Also, I’m busy visiting doctor’s office during my precious day off even if I get one. sigh~

OK, my updates became rants but, anyway, this is why my blog hasn’t been updated. I’m really looking forward a quiet November after this week (This Friday & Saturday; more work this weekend)

eco architecture
There are two significant trend in design industries these days. One is “eco” and the other is “emotional.” I hear “emotion” everywhere in commercial ad campaign here in Korea. They do emphasize in emotional aspect of design in elsewhere but not as literal in words here. Well, sometimes words are used without meanings. Anyway, there has been an architecture biennale and guess what is theme this year, Eco-architecture. As sustainability has been risen up as new trend to watch, eco design trend seems to be a necessity for our serious environmental issues. I’m very pro-echo design, computing, architecture, music(if possible) whatever it makes our future closer to be harmonized with nature and repair what we have ruined…if it’s not too late.

The image above is the gate for the echo-architecture installations. It is made of two kinds of commerical plastic beer cartons and I like this piece the best among other installations made of other recycled materials. I liked some of the materials they chose to create installation with but, they were installed too close with each other therefore, lost their artistic forms without negative space that surrounds them. Since I have seen them pre-installed, I couldn’t help myself wondering what happened. In my opinion, they were over done. Sometimes, it’s really hard to know when to stop when you create something artistic.

Yeah, time really flies here…. Some more updates on my recent days.

There are growing amount of work and responsibities for me but, I guess I finally got used to it since I’m getting less frustrated and got my normal optimism back. My students are great and I look forward to seeing their future work.

May 15th is “Teacher’s Day” in Korea. You can tell what day that is literally. I was surprised to find out that some of my students really look upon me and felt some responsiblity to be a good role model for them. Beside my somewhat mature thoughts, I got some cool gifts from students. There is one bottle of French brandy which I’m not sure what to do with yet but, I sure can drink a bottle of wine Junior year students got me as a gift. One thing I felt a bit awkward was when my senior students sang “Teacher’s day song” to me during my class… you know, I didn’t know where to look while they sang at me so I pretend to open the box of chocolates they got me. I shared chocolates with them afterward. The photo above is a flower bouquet they put on my chest for the teacher’s day ceremony. It’s usually made of Carnation… same kind of bouquet they used for Parents’ Day since they consider teachers are like parents here. The modern life changed teacher’s role a lot here but, I could tell there are huge respects still left toward teachers in this culture yet.

Last two weekends, I was traveling a lot to attend two different design conferences held in Korea. The most recent one, “Design Conference” by Korean Society of Design was held at Seoul University of Technology. I have met few old ITP friends and met new engineer/professors who experiment with wearables today. The highlight was the Jewlery Fashion Show they presented at the farewell party. The problem was that it didn’t get dark early enough since it’s going into summer… so we had to wait few more hours to see this finale show. The Jewlery Show was composed with ornament + fashion projects by senior students in Metal Arts Department at the hosting university. Their theme were world…different countries. I’ve noticed that they repeatedly used LEDs, El-wires for their jewlery arts but there are few I thought they really worked as enhancement to their metal artwork. Working with lighting materials tastefully is never easy.

Below photos are from the runaway, left; Vietnam theme & right; Korea theme. I thought it’s interesting that the student picked the traditional Shaman’s outfit to work with among all.

Last weekend, I took KTX(fast train) down to Busan to attend my first academical conference in Korea. Busan is the second largest city in Korea and it’s a huge port. Very often spelled as Pusan, don’t ask me which one is correct, I’m as confused as you are… It’s by Korean Society of Emotional Science. Their title alone was enough to evoke my curiosity and this year’s conference theme were more with “Emotional Design.” Since I’m making my students reading “Emotional Design” by E. Norman for their Interaction Design projects so I found it even more interesting. There were some interesting paper presentation and I have met one of main authors who you find when you study Emotional Design these days, who is P. Jordan. He had a talk about Pleasurability along with the content of his book. I haven’t read his book yet so, it was interesting enough. Later on when we had beer after conference, we had good talk and I have met again some more new people I share some interest with.

I really liked Busan. The smell of ocean is everywhere… surrounded with many layers of mountains, harsh southern dialect. Whenever I visit Busan, something deep inside me gets evoked. I stayed at Haundae (famous beach area.) Crossing over a high bridge and looking down the beach was great. However, I had a duty call from my school so I had to wake up at 5 am to take KTX again back to Daejun and so on. I’ve come to realize that last time I visited Busan was 10 years ago. I will visit Haundae again when I find one peaceful weekend in near future.


If you are in creative industries, you have already encountered all these types of clients. I have encoutered all of the above except “The Wet Blanket” type. Nowadays, I find myself very lucky when the client respect my 15 years of design experience and gives me reasonable design feedback. As a result, they get the best product.

This is for good weekend laugh. Great comic!

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