Interview with Ji-woong Park Waiting for a sun
Creative director of #Odaju,
Ji-woong Park Odaju Flower Design Studio @omi_jiung
How did your florist career started?
I was studying marketing in the University of Manchester when I became interested in flowers. The UK is known for its flower arrangements and I decided to take a class in this subject. The time I spent there was sort of a meditation for me, and learning about flowers and flower arrangements soon became a hobby. When I returned to Korea two years later, I began my marketing career but soon realised that I wanted to work with flowers instead. It was certainly not the money that drove this decision but merely the fact that working with flowers was soothing, relaxing and peaceful. While attending florist school, I noticed that everyone had a special way to teach. Sometimes the teachers would encourage the students to go to the garden and hand pick flowers other times however, they would just give us whatever they had that day and it was our job to create new floral combinations. I have to say that going to the garden and picking flowers was more my cup of tea. I like to have the freedom of choosing the flowers, it’s a very important part of the process. This allows me to see how they grow, I can see the lines, which part of the flower is the most attractive. I’m also thinking about the colors and how the shadow and sunlight work with the texture of the flower. To see the flower on the sun is very important.
What do need to know about the person to whom someone address the flowers?
When making a flower arrangement, it’s helpful to understand why someone chooses to give flowers as a gift. I like to know if it’s a special occasion and who the flowers are for: a teacher, for parents, or for the person you love. Why does someone pick certain flowers, which color is their favorite. I also like to know if it’s for men or women and what is the style of their clothes and type of hair. When it comes to women, I’ll ask about the lipstick color, for the men the color of their socks. Yes, it’s true, I believe that for men they are the most personal. Generally speaking it’s underwear, lingerie, but always some item they can show to people.
What do flower combination trends mean to you right now?
I’m one who doesn’t believe in trends when it comes to flowers especially in an arrangement but I can say that in Korea everything related with flowers is pretty complicated. Flowers have always been very simple, like for example just a single rose and not much in flower designs. The idea is becoming more acceptable and people now look at the florist as a designer, but still it’s a long way; we are slowly taking baby steps. The most important thing for me when it comes to flower arrangements is texture, what can I use from that point of view. Texture is key to me.
What makes asian style in flowers so special?
Most Koreans went to Europe in order to learn about flowers. It’s not common for us to work with floral arrangements. I can describe the American style or say the European or western style, but the Asian style is definitely more linear. We love lines.
Why you decided to combine flower studio with the coffee shop?
When I opened my flower shop, before that I had a studio where nobody was able to see me from the street. I had so many flowers, but I was the only one who was able to see them. The set up was not the best as it did not generate traffic and therefore few sales. It was also draining emotionally. Now with the coffee shop I am open to everyone. People come in because they want something to drink and can’t help but love the flowers and buy them. I worked in a restaurant for 4 years and that’s where I learned a lot about coffee. Koreans love coffee a lot. I make everything by hand, no coffee machines involved. This gives my customers time to look around the shop and admire the flowers. Then they sit and sip their coffee and most of the time leave my shop with flowers.