Rich Yeong-Chun Park | Industrial Designer

‘Humble’ Design for the World

Photo Rich Yeong-Chun ParkWork by Rich Park ’87 (Industrial Design) may already be in your refrigerator. Or your tool shed. Or possibly even your bathroom. Today, he’s taking his Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) approach to design solutions to young designers in Seoul, Korea, as a founding member of the Samsung Art & Design Institute (SADI).

A young school that fosters the development of creative students with an eye toward careers in design, SADI students may learn how to build a better mustard bottle or reshape a child’s toothbrush so it won’t slip out of tiny hands, two tasks that Park has already accomplished in a professional design career spanning three decades.

“Art is about understanding how people live,” says Park, whose full name in Korean is Rich Young-Chun Park. “When you see other people’s cultures and think about what you can provide for them, you become more humble. You realize that different people have different needs and you have to be considerate of all those needs. You realize you’re not the ‘only’ person you are designing for.”

Among the items on his own resume are a Craftsman toolbox series designed for Sears, early 90s redesigns of the packaging for French’s mustard and the creation of a Crest children’s toothbrush for Proctor & Gamble. He’s also created design solutions for clients as wide-ranging as Gerber, Gillette and Maybelline.

Park was born and raised in Seoul, moving to the United States in 1980 at the age of 23. At PCA, teachers included Noel Mayo, then chair of Industrial Design, who Park recalls would always remind his charges: “You need to be creative, but you also need to be practical and ready to answer any questions that could come from a client.”

As Park visited people’s homes for the Craftsman project, he found that the average person had more than one toolbox because their hardware collections were large. His solution was to come up with something like a Russian nesting doll for the macho set. “We made not just a larger box, but a modular one, with a smaller standalone box that fit inside,” he says of the wildly popular Craftsman toolbox.

Product packaging design presented a different set of challenges. Before Park got his hands on a bottle of French’s mustard, the container was totally round. He gave it a new shape, flattening out the front to allow more room for graphics, which in turn gave the product “stronger shelf appearance.”

Park returned to Korea in 1995 to help found SADI, where he holds several titles, among them chair of the Product Design department.

After completing a three-year program, some SADI students go to work for Samsung companies; others work for design consultancies or begin their own firms.

“Our goal is to educate designers who could think on their own with strategic minds for the world, but our design is very much practical,” Park says.