When was the last time you were inspired by your friends? Last winter, I was lucky enough to be asked by Tim and Dan Joo of Hærfest
to document the production of their SS12 bag collection in Seoul, Korea. Based in NYC, these brothers (Tim the designer, and Dan the business runner) are unbelievably dedicated to their craft, working 24/7 to make sure the quality and design of each bag are perfect. Read my interview below to see how they do all this and still manage to have a ton of fun!
Shop all Hærfest HERE
Joyce Lee: How did it all start?
Tim Joo: Dan and I were living together in Brooklyn, coming home from our jobs every night and talking about all the other things we wanted to do in life. Finally, we asked ourselves, "What's holding us back?". To work together and build the company we'd always envisioned, we knew we had to leave the comfort of our jobs and whole-heartedly pursue what we believed in. We wanted to share our ideas and passion with the world, beginning with the series of modest bags that became Hærfest.
JL: Where does the name Hærfest (pronounced "harvest") come from?
TJ: Hærfest comes from the Old English word for harvest. It’s a metaphor for celebrating the fruits of your labor. We wanted it to be a concept that could be universally understood. As a company, we believe that hard work, patience, quality materials, and attention to detail are essential to creating a piece that you know has been crafted with pride.
JL: Did you always want to be a designer?
TJ: Yes, I will always be passionate about design, but my early notions of being a "designer" have changed as my responsibilities at Hærfest now go beyond design.
JL: What do you most value in design?
TJ: Its ability to communicate ideas in a way that connects people on a universal level.
JL: What role does your brother play in the design process?
TJ: He views design with a very objective and pragmatic lens, so he helps me balance my thoughts and weigh out solutions to problems.
JL: Can you tell me more about your strap system?
TJ: Our single strap concept stems from our principle of reduction: a strap can be reduced to a single form yet have dual functionality. So the backpacks can be worn with a single strap over one shoulder or with straps on both, and our totes can be carried by hand or over the shoulder with the long strap. It’s a signature Hærfest detail that we apply consistently throughout all the bags.
JL: What's your idea of the perfect bag?
TJ: It has to age well and have a lasting aesthetic.
JL: You're always traveling—what are your airplane essentials?
TJ: Good reading material, a camera, notebook and pen, comfortable headphones, and an eye mask. For the most part I suggest carrying only what you NEED.
JL: You were in Seoul for about seven months working on production for FW11 and SS12, what are the advantages? Does where you are influence what you design?
TJ: Close proximity to markets, manufacturers, and other resources gives me opportunities to experiment. People here are extremely well networked which can be helpful. Where I am doesn't influence my design as much as it impacts my ability to create what I design.
JL: What were your days like in Seoul? Any favorite spots?
TJ: My days in Seoul consist of lots of coffee and good vibes. Some favorite places include Standing Coffee in Itaewon for great iced coffee and a place called Gopchang Jeongol bar in the Hongdae area, where you can listen to classic Korean rock while enjoying good makgeolli
(Korean rice wine).
JL: If you could travel to any time, where would you go and what would you bring back with you?
TJ: I would attend the Bauhaus School in Germany, any time from 1919 to 1933. And I would definitely bring back the entire faculty with me—a truly incredible group of thinkers.
JL: How much is your own personality reflected in your design?
TJ: There are a lot of colors, textures, and materials that I personally find beautiful, but I'm always try to restrain, reduce, and stay focused.
JL: What does having a "family business" mean to you?
TJ: It means that family comes before business. Business will have its highs and lows, but we take comfort in knowing that we'll get through them together.
JL: Were there any memorable brotherhood moments while "hærfesting"?
TJ: Definitely! When we celebrated getting our first order from OC!
JL: What's next for Hærfest?
TJ: Creating a better platform to communicate our ideas. Working with other like-minded creative people, we want to create more products—we don’t want to limit ourselves to bags.
Shop all Hærfest here