The Process: Family, Working with Friends and Tarot Cards with Korean American Designer Lisa Danbi Park

Korean American designer Lisa Danbi Park creates pieces that have been made thoughtfully and are meant to be worn and shared. After graduating in Fashion Print at Central Saint Martins in 2019, Lisa is now back in her hometown of Los Angeles where she’s working on a project grown from the prints she painted and made during her graduate collection, and based on her experience as a Korean American in California. Here, Lisa talks about personal memories, objects collected from family and friends and the rest of things that inspire her work.

All images provided by Lisa Danbi Park

My parents when they were in High School and College

“I always thought I needed to travel far away to discover things, when that wasn’t the case at all. Coming back home to LA meant finding inspiration from my daily activities and the close friends and family around me during this strange time. It also refreshed Los Angeles for me, and I enjoy viewing this city through the eyes of a tourist. When I was interning in Sweden, I started looking at photographs of my parents when they were younger and realized I had forgotten that they too had their own lives and dreams before they had children. I wanted to design with a sense of their nostalgia, but for today, by fusing vintage garments and recreating iconic prints from that time. I’ve enjoyed being back home in LA and getting to know them now as people and not just as my parents.”

Ajumma wearing a tiger fur print dress, March 27, 1997 by Hein-Kuhn Oh

“The stereotypical or Google image of an ‘ajumma’ – a Korean middle-aged woman – is almost always comical, with bright mismatching prints layered with sun-prevention visors and gloves. I really love this portrait series by Hein-Kuhn Oh, particularly this photo, because the colorful caricatures are stripped from the photos of these women. Instead, the photos create a new dialogue for the ‘ajumma’, presenting a view of these women that is more tender and serious. My graduate collection was largely influenced by ‘ajummas’, including personal photographs from my own family and those of my friends’ mothers.” 

Working with Friends

“My friends have been a really great support system during the pandemic. I think we’ve all kind of realized we have each other to lean on despite physical distance and limitations. The image below shows Sirui taking a photo of Manu and Najia in London this past October.”

Sublimated print based from a painting in Gloria’s family home

“I really love this deer painting found in my friend’s home that was painted by her grandmother. It’s nice to see artworks and pieces made by my friends or family members because they have a special quality of being really personal. I still want to find a way to include this print into my future work.”

Daisuke Yokota, Color Photographs

“I love this book for color referencing, and in general is just really beautiful images. Each image is a scan of Yokota’s manipulation with color film. Something really chemical or synthetic produces these really natural compositions. When I start a new project I like to look at this book and find color palettes and combinations I can use together.”

Angel Card

“As silly as it seems, I look back to this card a lot because it serves me the hard truth. Before I left London I begged my friend Dohan to do a tarot reading for me. I had just officially moved out of my flat in London with an unplanned future ahead. We always have fun with readings, because sometimes you just want to hear someone give you the answers for your future. At the end our reading, I pulled this Angel Card. I go back to this image a lot because it’s a great reminder for myself, served with some humor as I work towards my personal goals this year.”