Reviving Forgotten Traditions: Designer Creates Artifact-Inspired Gifts for a Modern Twist

Hailey Han Founder and CEO of Mimidar

In recent times, traditional cultural products have experienced a resurgence in popularity among Korea’s younger generations. Once considered outdated and unappealing, these artifacts and designs have become a source of inspiration for brand collaborations with Korean museums. One remarkable example is the Goryeo celadon-inspired phone cases, which sold over 50,000 pieces and captivated the hearts of many. Hailey Han, the founder and CEO of Mimidar, a design brand that infuses traditional Korean culture into modern-day items, is at the forefront of this movement. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Han’s creations and how she aims to revive Korea’s forgotten traditions.

Combining Tradition with Everyday Items:
Hailey Han, a visionary entrepreneur, has always recognized the value of traditional design. Her passion for preserving cultural heritage led her to study Metal Art & Design in college, where she nurtured her dream of starting her own company. Han’s breakthrough came during a trip to Japan in 2017, where she discovered specialty shops that seamlessly integrated tradition into everyday items. Unlike in Korea, where traditional souvenirs were limited to popular tourist spots, Han witnessed a beautiful connection between tradition and practicality.

Empowered by this revelation, she embarked on her creative journey by designing an “Irworobongdo”-inspired pencil case, drawing inspiration from the iconic panel placed behind the king’s royal throne during the Joseon Kingdom. The success of this venture, which began with crowdfunding, ignited Han’s confidence to establish her own business.

Founding Mimidar: Connecting the Past and Present:
In 2019, Han founded Mimidar and began pitching her unique product line to national museums. Each year, these museums seek design ideas from the public through cultural and creative design competitions. Han’s creations stand out by seamlessly blending ancient paintings and crafts with a modern touch, resulting in cool and chic items that resonate with the younger generation.

One of the core strengths of Mimidar is its ability to tell stories through each product. Han believes in the power of storytelling and ensures that every item conveys its historical significance. For instance, the Goryeo celadon design traces back to the origins of blue pottery, which emerged as an alternative to expensive jade. Symbolizing longevity and auspiciousness, the crane and cloud motifs hold deep meaning and cultural significance.

Han’s creative process differs from traditional approaches. Rather than deciding on the items first and then designing around them, she begins by selecting a central theme or motif. Based on the rich history and narrative associated with the chosen theme, she then curates a collection of items that resonate with the essence of the story.

Unveiling Beauty, Practicality, and Trendiness:
Han believes in making her products visually appealing and trendy while maintaining practicality. Drawing inspiration from common objects and overlooked places, she finds beauty in everyday life. Her love for traveling, exploring museums, and delving into books about traditional arts and crafts fuels her creativity. For instance, the “dancheong” umbrella, inspired by the eaves of Gyeongbok Palace, incorporates Korean-style decorative patterns to convey beauty and dignity.

The BTS Connection and Global Outreach:
Han extends her gratitude to BTS member RM for renewing interest in her brand. When RM showcased his Goryeo celadon-inspired phone case on Instagram in March 2021, fans flooded Mimidar with requests to purchase similar items. This unexpected surge in demand prompted Han to launch an English website for international customers, meeting the needs of fans overseas. Shipping is now available to nearly 20 countries, including the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Qatar, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Connecting Generations through Traditional Design:
Han takes immense pride in bridging the generational gap. She has observed that younger individuals are increasingly drawn to traditional Korean culture. Interestingly, while these buyers are typically in their 20s and 30s, they often purchase Mimidar items as gifts for their parents or grandparents. This intergenerational connection speaks volumes about the enduring beauty and significance of Korea’s cultural heritage.

Future Ambitions and Collaborations:
Looking ahead, Han aims to revive the value of Korea’s traditional design, which has been somewhat overshadowed in recent times. She plans to extend her customer outreach by distributing Mimidar products through platforms like Amazon. By leveraging these channels, she hopes to make traditional Korean culture more accessible to a wider audience. Additionally, Han envisions collaborating with other brands to develop innovative products that seamlessly integrate tradition and modernity.

Photo Credit MIMIDAR

Hailey Han, the creative force behind Mimidar, is on a mission to revive Korea’s forgotten traditions through her artifact-inspired gifts. By infusing ancient designs with a modern twist, she has captured the attention of younger generations and connected them with their cultural heritage. Han’s commitment to storytelling, visual appeal, practicality, and trendiness has propelled Mimidar to new heights. Through her endeavors, she aims to bridge generations, spark interest in traditional Korean culture, and celebrate the rich legacy of the past in the present.

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