Y.Han Design Edges Up NYC
Youngeun brings her edgy South Korean style to New York City in a sustainable way. To learn more about her and her creative designs, please read our exclusive interview below.
How long has Y.Han been around and where are you based?
It was conceptualized many years ago while I was in school and was built slowly over time.
Registered since 2015, we officially launched last year after a long preparation. Our collaboration debut with 'slow fashion' brand Kitwan.co also launched last year. We are based in NYC.
What made you decide to start Y.Han Design?
I have always enjoyed leading creative projects either on my own or with a team. So having my own vision come to life has always been in the plans. It was a matter of the right timing, as well as defining the need of what I can offer. My original background in fine arts and graphic design gave me the grounds of inspiration. Working as a jewelry designer for national & international mass market gave me insights in what the market was demanding, as well as the niche I can possibly fulfill, while high-end brand experience gave me edges in craftsmanship, structure and thorough attention to detail.
All of your designs are made in NYC. Why is this important to you?
Mostly for quality control and production management. I also think there is perceived value in residing and constantly being inspired by such a vibrant and diverse city. Intentionally and unintentionally, NYC is reflected in my work.
Do you feel your South Korean heritage influences your designs? If so, how?
Definitely. In a literal sense, the art training I received while in South Korea has been a direct influence on how I conceive and process my designs. The trainings are fast paced and very technically advanced, but with very intuitive output. I am always looking for a more effective and faster solution, and I would say most services and systems are like that in South Korea. Aesthetically, traditional Korean art and craft is a source of inspiration for me in its forms and stories.
Your jewelry has some very interesting cuts. How is it made?
Every design starts with hand sketches to create the compositions, very much like painting. Then the 2D design is finalized on computer programs and sent to laser cutters. After cutting, depending on the material and type of product, they may get heat formed or forged at the workshop.
Your website speaks about how you use ethical practices that transcend from production to end customer. Can you please talk a little about these practices?
This is something that I would like to elaborate on when we have more context, but basically, we aim to make it common practice to be always sustainably integrated with the full cycle of human society in long terms. For example, when we deal with materials such as gold, silver and diamonds, we try to make sure it is conflict free and recycled, meaning the processing of materials didn’t support wars or human exploitation. Often times, it is very difficult, as a small production, to be able to actually trace down to the source, but that is another discussion that is ongoing. Also, for the making process, we make sure everyone is being paid and treated fairly. Finally, we have ongoing projects working with local non-profits to build better communities; such as donating profits from sales to aid victims of human trafficking. That’s when the customers come in, where they can choose to use their purchasing power to contribute.
What inspires your designs?
My inspirations come most frequently from architecture, typography, ancient crafts, the human body, music and conversations.
Have any celebrities worn your designs?
Singer & songwriter Andre Veloz has been a great supporter and fan of my designs since the beginning as she wears them at live shows and events — she is a local celebrity here in NYC and a sensation in the Latin community.
What is your motto in life?
To always be present while building value. This great martial arts quote sums it up nicely: “To achieve anything we must grind, but to enjoy anything we must flow.”
Cover photo by: Myesha Evon of the Y.Han Name collection.