Whenever it is a new birth, a congratulatory moment, flowers are always given. Even a single flower can bring splendor and fragrance to the whole room. Flowers are no longer luxury items, but a part of daily life. And here is the one who led the flower to be the best shape. The Sookmyung Times met Lee Jia, Floral Art Director and CEO of STUDIO MOIM, to learn more about her colorful story that centers on flowers.
First, thank you for accepting this interview. You have made a huge name for yourself as a floral art director. What course have you been through on your path to becoming a floral art director?
I started out working as an airline crew member, a career completely unrelated to the flower industry. However, as a flight crew attendant, I travelled overseas to a number of various countries and that experience broadened my worldly views. Based on my travels, I longed for creativity. And I found it in floral art. My mother operated a flower shop for many years, so I’m sure that also influenced me. To learn more about flowers, I decided to return to university. Making that decision, I entered graduate school and I’ve been learning how to create environmental design spaces under the exceptional tutelage of Rhie Jin Min. While studying at graduate school, I worked at a company as floral art director. More recently, I quit my job of 10 years to establish a studio in order to devote myself to my floral work.
We understand you’ve worked on a wide range of projects, from one-time events to home decor. What inspires your floral art work?
I should make work up according to immediate TPO otherwise known as Time, Place, and Occasion. As such, I spend lots of time thinking. I pay attention to things around me in daily life, even though they may seem mundane, and incorporate them into my designs. Keeping a note of the idea is the point. Actually, I stay inspired rather than get inspired. Thinking in thought which bite each other inside the head often connected to a good design. Also, instead of talking with similar opinionated friends, I try to talk with people from different walks of life. I get inspired by talent working in harmony. That is to say, I draw my inspiration from everything around me. The matter is that how I accept that.
What do you think the value of floral art directing is? Is there anything that you found inside of floral art directing?
Adding life to a dead space. Gathering attention. Those are the keys to floral art directing. There is joy in observing change and growth that takes place when their daylights come to life. When people celebrate special events or moments, floral art adds brightness and gloze over the moment. Floral art not only maximizes the joy and an individual’s happiness but also reduces sorrow when people are sad.
Did you ever encounter any negativity on your path towards becoming a floral art director? How were you able to overcome it?
As I mentioned earlier, I worked as a flight attendant, a career many people dream of. However, I quit and suddenly started working as a floral art director. At first, work wasn't easy. Designing must take into meticulous consideration of a client’s personal design preferences. Because they are living organisms, I also frequently had trouble arranging the flowers as well. However, the most difficulty to overcome was my own doubt. I faced a lot of stereotype at first. In Korea, there was no specialized institution where I could learn flower designing. Realizing my dream took a lot of eff ort. However, I steadily focused on learning flower trends and branding at the beginning of flower design non-mainstream days. Today, the flower industry has advanced in Korea and it is now a recognizable and appreciated career path. Consistency was the answer to overcoming adversity.
Your studio does much more than flowers such as cooking, baking, and wine. Can you tell us about what triggered you to add to these fields to your business?
At the beginning, I opened a private studio; however, when I decided to expand, I wanted to make a change and that led to the idea of setting up a studio with unions I’ve who met in graduate school while at Sookmyung Women’s University. Studying at graduate school with unions, professors asked us to derive a new idea using a single subject. Since each of us came from different backgrounds, we had to first find common ground. From here, we experimented and did incredible things with each other’s talent. We formed unions, with members by maximizing use of their professions as food stylists, patissiers, graphic and magazine specialists, and marketing personnel. Based on this diversity, each member of the group took on a specific role and we created systematic collaboration. So this is the studio that our unions made.
What are your final plans for your work in the flower industry and those of STUDIO MOIM?
I plan to operate the studio like a local supermarket. I hope to build a small but friendly complex cultural space. I want the field of art to exist in all neighborhoods besides the more urban areas. I hope to run cultural workshop that are easily accessible to all people and to host a small workshop in district neighborhoods that can be attended by all and anyone. However, I don't want to present sloppy work just because the studio is small. I want to make it fruitful. Hence, I have made a partnership with the main office in Germany. By continuing to adopt advanced practices, I hope to create a studio that presents a trusted brand. This is work is my passion and what I believe in.
Lastly, would you leave a few final words to Sookmyungians?
Experience all that you can while at university life, regardless if it is for academic purposes or for fun. Be faithful to all you do during school. Like me, your present course of study may not be the final road you travel down for your career. Your future is not predetermined. The future is what you make it, so experience everything you can right now. Studying would not be your only goal in life. Create long-term goals and make a worthy life, free from others’ prejudice and stereotypes.
- Directed various party space flower including terrestrial broadcasting <Infinite Challenge>
- Designed various celebrities' wedding
- Took on a role of Busan Paradise Hotel Floral Art executive director
- Professor of LOY Culture & Art College Space Flowe