IN CONVERSATION WITH YUN CO-FOUNDER, JIYOON YUN.
In conversation with co-founder of YUN, Jiyoon Yun.
Having dreamt of having her own fashion brand when she was younger, Jiyoon Yun’s dreams became a reality when her father asked her to join forces to create a totally new eyewear concept.
Jiyoon has been leading the brand YUN for five years now, working closely with her father, CJ, to bring beautiful glasses to Berlin and Seoul.
With a business to run in cities on different continents, life can be pretty hectic- here is how Jiyoon manages it, from her daily inspirations to her go-to brands.
How was YUN born?
As a fashion designer I had always dreamed of having my own brand.
My dad who has worked for more than 30 years in the optical industry was preparing for a totally new concept for an eyewear store at the time. He proposed to me that I join him and we work on it together.
As we both have different expertise, engineering and design, we knew we could grow YUN to be equally balanced on both technical and creative sides. It was as if he was the machine behind the operation and I created and breathed life into the brand.
This is why balance is our key value and why we named the business ‘YUN’- it is our last name. We want to represent him and I but also technology, design, the traditional and the innovative.
You are the director of YUN but also a designer, how do you start your design process?
Frame design has more limitations than fashion because function should always come first.
When it comes to fashion, creating a new silhouette and suggesting a total look is the goal but a glasses frame is more like a medical device.
I oppose senseless design like oversized or exaggerated shapes which might affect your eye health. Glasses should be wearable and comfortable for your everyday life. The very first thing I consider are social trends, practicality, functionality and customer needs. Based on research, we decide what type of items we should develop and start researching inspirations to add design points and recreate them in our hallmark YUN minimal style.
For example with the BIO collection, we acknowledged the movement towards caring about the earth and the environment. This is what inspired us to incorporate biodegradable materials into our frames, all the time thinking about the functionality and customer needs. We chose ‘moss’ as the main theme of the collection representing the power of living together (symbiosis).
How does Korea and being Korean influence your design?
Korean minimalism is the pivotal value when we make decisions for the brand.
The meaning of Korean minimalism is to keep balanced- not too much or too little. It also means self training or finding a middle point.
Since our efforts go into creating glasses people can wear everyday, they shouldn’t be too outstanding and should be designed to be worn with different outfits. I take self-discipline to let go of my passion and add more, keeping elements at a minimum and appreciating the simplicity. YUN avoids flashy, ornate design and instead tries to find the beauty from the relationship between elements.
You were born and raised in Seoul but have made Berlin your home, what differences do you make between the two cities?
I love the laid-back lifestyle of Berlin. It’s easy to unwind here and relax in nature at the nearest park. It’s full of creative people and easy to meet those people at the top. There are brilliant cultural festivals here like the Berlin Film Festival or the Berlin Literature Festival and there is definitely no shortage of museums and rich history to absorb.
I do miss mouthwatering Korean food badly though!
Seoul is equally as vibrant a city and you’ll find many driven, passionate people there. My dearest friends and family are also there, so that I miss.
Unlike Germany, South Korea has the highest number of released films so you can always see a new movie, whereas I have to wait a while here. And when I’m in Seoul I miss the long summer in Berlin.
Describe YUN in three words
It’s hard to pick only three words that perfectly describe YUN.
YUN places equal value on the traditional and the modern, on technology and design, on analog and digital, the east and the west and embraces difference too.
In that sense, I’d rather describe YUN with one word and that would be: balance.
What are your go to brands?
Magaret Howell, Sunspel, Arket, Aesop, Muji, Lululemon
I love brands knowing their expertise and being faithful to the basics!
What is on your reading list?
Currently I’m reading ‘Space made by space’ by Hyunjoon Yoo. (It’s a Korean book.)
It’s interesting to see his hypothesis of the origin of individualism and collectivism. He found the reason for different cultures between the east and west from the different climate and precipitation in each area. With development of transportation, different cultures met and created new thoughts and new cultures and he often explains intuitively with examples of historical architectures in east and west.
He says the online world is another space that humans made because there’s no more new space to explore. At the end he’s questioning how the world will be changed and developed since human beings are always developing themselves by getting insight from intercultural communication.
As an Asian woman myself, I always thought lots of my thoughts, attitude and behaviors came from collectivism and was curious about how eastern and western people have a different tendency. This book gave the answer and made me think about my roots, the root of YUN, the identity and culture of the brand.
Asian minimalism is more about spirituality and the relationship between entities, the beauty of voidness, self-discipline and the harmony of yin and yang. I’d like to learn more about it to add philosophical depth to the brand.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
I’d love to collaborate with the brands I mentioned above (my go-to brands).
They all have a focus on the basics and their professions which I admire and minimalism is an essential value of the brand aesthetic. (Maybe except Lululemon?) Their roots are England, Sweden, Australia and Japan and I would like to create something new together based on different definitions of minimalism.
What is your favourite YUN product of all?
My current favorite is the HANA collection since we put so much effort on making it to have perfect features- it took one and a half years!
We plan to launch the BIO collection so that is my soon-to-be favourite.
As YUN grows, I started to think about what we could do more sustainably given our position. Using packages at a minimum and developing an AR try-on service to reduce waste and our carbon footprint. The launch of the BIO collection is much more meaningful because it’s our first time trying to channel our thoughts about the planet into the product.