When I think about kawaii design, like most people I automatically think of Japan, but last year I stumbled across some cosmetics that were in really cute packaging which turned out to be by a Korean company. I’ve since been checking out some more Korean character designs and products, so I thought I’d gather up some images of my favourite stuff. I’ll try and put some of the brand names I think I know, but some of the sites I looked at had no English translation, so I’ve had to make an educated guess. Apologies in advance if I’ve got anything mixed up in translation – feel free to correct me!
One of my favourite character design companies was Pony Brown, creators of the little girl character with the red hood above. She seems to have no official name, but the series of products she appears on is sometimes called ‘My Little Friend’. Something I really love about this character is even though I think she looks a bit grumpy with her ‘^’ mouth, she’s usually found giving out really positive messages. Funny!
Another Korean shop I really liked was called Monopoly. I’m having to guess that they are sort of like a Korean version of Paperchase, selling mainly stationery goods and accessories, some under their own Monopoly brand and some from guest designers. I like that a lot of their stuff is quite minimal and bold but still really cute. They make the Smiley Diary and the illustrated tags above, and also sell the animal head pens and a whole range of bags and pouches with the embroidered animal face under the brand Toffeenut. It’s a really nice collection of products that use a gorgeous colour palette.
One downside is, as mentioned before, there doesn’t seem to be an English translation option on the Monopoly site so I’m not sure how available this stuff is internationally.
If you are a cat lover like me, you’ll probably love the Choo Choo Brand by Jetoy with it’s vibrantly painted perfect cats and kittens (the style reminds me a bit of those Chinese propoganda posters!) And if you’re not a cat fan, they seem to have introduced a new brand called LaLa Dog too – well you don’t want to put all your eggs in one (cat) basket do you!
The diaries with the rabbit character are sold by a company called Wannathis, and I think he is called Hong2 Bunny. I’ve not been able to find out too much about this character (you’ll notice their website isn’t the most informative!), but I wanted to include it because I really love the illustration style!
I love the way these cosmetics are packaged. Imagine going into Boots or Superdrug and seeing shelves full of this cuteness! The main brands I’ve found that have a kawaii packaged range are Etude House, The Face Shop and Tony Moly (Please click on the Tony Moly site at least once, if only to see the heavily photoshopped, plastic looking male models on the homepage at the moment. How bizarre! )
It can be tricky getting hold of these Korean products in the UK – although we have shops dedicated to selling imported goods from Japan and China, I’ve never seen these Korean products stocked over here, even in Artbox, which I believe is a Korean based company.
I’ve found the best place to search is on eBay. Here are two sellers that I’ve bought things from with no problems in case you want to have a browse for more Korean cute!
RikyandNina – Based in the UK, sell Korean stationary brands and craft items
CosmeticLove – Based in Korea but very good delivery times to the UK. Check out Face Shop, Etude House and Tony Moly.