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Designer Talks: Sara Han

Sara Han received her BFA from HanYang University in South Korea. The vigorous curriculum cultivated her skills in ceramics, textiles, jewelry/metalsmith, stained glass and interior designs. After moving to the United States she earned a second BFA from FIT in New York and subsequently accepted a design position in the tabletop industry working for the Japanese company, Noritake. After leaving Noritake, Sara worked for Lifetime Brands and currently holds the position of Vice President/Creative Director for Auratic, a luxury tableware company.

Do you have a greatest career moment? If so, what was it?

My greatest career moments are small beautiful and memorable moments. As a designer, I feel great when I explain about my designed products to clients and customers and also see them use my designed products. It's that satisfaction that fulfills me inside and there is no better feeling than that as a designer.

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What was your most challenging career moment?

I would have to say my most challenging career moment is right now. Auratic is a new brand in America and has so much potential, with much nurturing needed in the beginning. As the VP/Creative Director, I am responsible for designing, marketing, and every detail in between. As challenging as my responsibilities are, I enjoy every task and I have never been more obsessed with my career before.

What do you consider to be your design expertise?

I feel my eye for color combinations is my design expertise. Picking out certain colors and specific trends has been a skill that I have honed throughout my career years.

Where do you seek inspiration to kick-start your creative process?

I am inspired by various places and cultures in architectures, galleries, shows, museums, and travels. Most of all, I love eating different style of cuisines and cooking as they say you don't only eat with your mouth but also with your eyes. My creativity begins to kick in when I see interesting objects with different colors, textures and shapes.

How do you overcome creative blocks?

I turn my focus on cleaning and on working out in the gym. Cleaning allows me to organize my thoughts and prepare to start new and fresh. Working out makes me feel refreshed and prepare to start new and fresh. Working out makes me feel refreshed and enables me to start my work with a clear vision.

Be genuine, have your own color and style, but always keep in mind that at the end of the day, you are designing for an end consumer, not for yourself.

How do you know when to stick it out and when to let go of an idea?

To me, decisions on ideas come naturally. When an idea in my head does not go away and makes me constantly sketch, I stick with it and make it the best form it can be. When the idea is weak it just goes away with ease and I move on.

How would you define your personal design aesthetic?

I love to reinvent the old into a new way, yet maintain its original identity. My personal design aesthetic is Modern and Clean.

Is there one design or collection that changed everything for you? What was it? And what do you think of it today?

The Everyday Bridal Collection of Auratic brought out a new side of me as a designer. My designs were usually floral patterns, for example as in Noritake, there was Color Wave, then in Lifetime Brands, Silk Floral and Garden Pallet Bouquet. However, in Auratic, I steered my design to more of a geometric pattern direction. The Everyday Bridal Collection is a risk well taken and there will definitely be more collections of geometric patterns with Auratic in the future.

How many Forty One Madison Table and Gift shows have you attended?

I do not know the exact number of times, but I have attended over a hundred shows.

If you could do one thing as a designer what would it be?

After my graduation from FIT I was planning to go back to Seoul, South Korea, and become an art professor there, but I remained here in the U.S. and started working in the industry. Now if I have the time and opportunity I would like to teach designing and share my experience with the next generation of designers!

If you were not a designer, is there another career path that intrigues you?

My mother always wanted me to become a pianist and so I started playing the piano at six years old. Piano was the first thing I would play when I wake up, however once middle school started, I found something else that intrigued me greatly. I began to study the arts which I fell in love with at first sight. Now I know I made the right choice as I take pleasure in what I do everyday, but playing the piano would have been my other career path.

Is there one person who you admire or consider to be your greatest mentor or design inspiration?

Actually I have two, Jun Takaoka who was the chief director during my time at Noritake and Lisa Carroll-Archambault, the former global creative director at Waterford. I am thankful for their creative leadership as I learned so much from both of them, and now, as a creative director myself I can apply this knowledge to my position at Auratic.

What advice would you give to young designers who are just starting out in a commercial marketplace?

Be genuine, have your own color and style, but always keep in mind that at the end of the day, you are designing for an end consumer, not for yourself. Your satisfaction comes from making customers happy. Always work hard and good things will happen inevitably.

What is the favorite gift you ever received and what was the occasion?

My favorite gift was from my mother. She gave me a grey basket weave cashmere coat that is tailored specifically to my body last year. The coat is warm and soft, fits perfectly on me, and I have no problem walking in the streets of New York during cold winters. There was no particular occasion for the coat, she always just gives whenever she can. She is thoughtful, generous, and affectionate. She has a heart the size of an ocean and I do not know what I would do without her.