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Five for Friday: Hwa Kinoshita Kim, Designer and Creative

Five for Friday: Hwa Kinoshita Kim, Designer and Creative

Five questions with Hwa Kinoshita Kim, designer and Co-Creator and Head of Creative/Branding at Fungisaurs Inc. Currently popular as a collectible mystery box toy,  Fungisaurs are in development to be an augmented reality mobile game. 

1. Where do you find design inspiration?
HK: It’s hard not to be inspired these days with the overwhelming amount of creative content on the internet and beyond. However, I’m incapable of taking in those inspirations if my mind and body aren’t healthy. For that, I rely on hot yoga and Korean spa. I love sweating in the heat. I go to this small and serene Korean spa a bit outside of LA. It’s quiet and I’m usually the only one in the wet area. I hop in the steam room, take a cold shower, then use the dry sauna, another shower, put on a clean robe, and get my notepad. Then I just write and sketch until I’m satisfied. I follow all this with ice-cold lemon cucumber water. It works for me!

2.  What is some professional advice you received that helped you navigate your career?
HK: I grew up in Japan and came to the United States as an international student during high school. Back home, I’d been in total comfort all my life, surrounded by the same people in the same peaceful town I grew up in. Then I moved to Seattle. Suddenly I was in uncomfortable situations 24/7. At the age of 17, it was so much for me to process, and I ended up having a mild identity crisis. At the time, it would take me 3 hours to read 30 pages of a book in English. My English wasn’t very good then.

One day, I happened to be in a car alone with Ms. L, the school’s French teacher. We were probably out for a Starbucks run with the dorm group. I never took French, but always found her poised and wise. She was originally from Ghana, had the coolest accent, spoke 5 languages, and wore glasses. It must have been her sunny aura that made me feel comfortable around her.

While in the car, I began to open up to her about my little crisis. She said something along the lines of, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s about who you strive to be now and what you do with it.” While this might a bit generic, like something you’d see on Instagram,  at that moment, combined with my being homesick and the cultural shock, her words gave me a deep, soothing relief like a warm hug to my adolescent anxiety. Her words became a backbone for not just navigating my career, but also my life as an outsider.

3. What is your personal motto? 
HK: Focus on the WHY

4. What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago? 
HK: When I lived in Chicago, I went to lots of shows at places like the Metro, Empty Bottle, Riviera, etc. I miss getting in a cab on an icy cold night, triple-layered for the cold and pumped for the evening. During the entire ride, the driver would be talking loudly on the phone in a foreign language, sometimes with his wife in the passenger seat. She rarely speaks.

Although now I live in sunny Los Angeles, I make it back to the Windy City at least once a year. I always look forward to listening to live jazz at Andy’s on Hubbard, probably with a Lagunitas IPA in my hand. Another venue of choice would be Smartbar by Wrigley Field. Both spots have this worn-in authenticity that’s hard to come by. I also love being in the company of musicians and music lovers. They are my kind of people.

5.  What is your favorite piece of jewelry?
HK:  My husband Aiman, who is also my business partner for Fungisaurs, surprise-proposed to me with a custom engagement ring a few years ago. Aiman read books about diamonds and visited all the jewelers on Wabash Street in downtown Chicago. He and his jeweler collaborated on the design and even made a physical wax prototype out of the 3D model. It’s a beautiful and tasteful ring I still adore.

The proposal happened on a boat tour in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, and it’s been neatly captured by the father of the American family from Charlotte we befriended on the boat. Aiman asked the father to secretly video the whole thing. When I said yes, the captain played Bob Marley’s “One Love” at an impeccable timing, and the entire boat cheered. All of that made the proposal even more magical, topped with the fact we were all in the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica. There was also this trio of Czech men who pretty much cleared up the bar, jumped into the ocean, and then swam back to the shore, but that’s another story... 

Many thanks Hwa for finding the time to chat with us! 

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