If you think these ‘Cute’ designs have a dark twist, you are right. Sejoon Kim’s research started from the question why he, as a Korean, appears to be more drawn to this style than the Europeans around him. This led him to study what ‘cuteness’ is. For Kim, the root of cuteness is not the protective instinct, but lies in a social and cultural construct. With its rigid hierarchy, Confucian culture brought a hidden desire for dominance and control. The rise of commercialism and its powerful marketing aimed at children over the past decades did the rest. Kim believes that when people find something cute, there is an inherent sense of superiority, domination and even violence. Satisfying these urges stimulates the human pleasure centres. Acknowledging both loveliness and darkness can be necessary and useful; it may help alleviate the human urge for control and conquest. This is why he has incorporated these conflicting qualities in his designs.
Photo by Ronald Smits