Meet the SIM team
The designers of Kor’s new Wilshire bottle share their insights into making great products, living beautifully, and staying curious.
“A good product experience does not come from the product design alone,” says Alice Chen, lead designer at SIM Design. “It begins way before our user’s hands touch [the] product.”
As Kor collaborators and designers of our new water bottle, Wilshire, the skillful team at SIM plays an integral role in bringing beautiful products to life.
“We’re just constantly observing,” says Chen of their creative process. “This kind of habit comes naturally for designers. . . We are constantly observing the trends, not because this is our job, but because we are naturally attracted to, and inspired by, interesting design and beautiful things.”
Indeed, inspiration is everywhere for the young, Taipei based design team - some of whom come from backgrounds in tech and architecture. Like our favorite films set in big Asian cities, their art direction is modern, futuristic, and almost impossibly cool. Their forward thinking work nods to sportswear, commuter culture, and hip street style, while embodying the values of eco-conscious urban explorers.
The SIM team focused on cycling when they began brainstorming Wilshire’s design. Not the cycling of road racers and spandex clad super dads, however, it was the community around young professionals riding to work, and the ubiquitous bike share scene in major cities across the globe that spurred their innovation.
Creating a new product is “as complicated as giving birth to a baby,” muses Chen, who says her team took to the street and the web to research the Wilshire project. They combed through reviews, window shopped at Urban Outfitters, and “stalked” people at the gym. Through a series of concepts and prototypes the team relied on two crucial tools to keep their work sharp – sketching and lots of gummy bears. The candy fuels their most important meetings (and an office culture that doesn’t take itself too seriously), while sketching keeps the ideas flowing fresh.
“Keep sketching,” implores Kimmy Yap, biz dev guru and self described “idea motivator, who “cannot stress enough the importance of having a sketching and review culture, regardless of project time constraints and deadlines.”
It’s there at the drawing board where the SIM team first explores forms and functions, and returns to solve problems encountered as they move forward with their designs. Comprised of talent who are eternally curious, each individual on the team brings a different perspective to the table.
“We work so well together because we embrace what we don't know, and fight for what we do know,” says Yap.
Along with Yap’s leadership, Gigi Wong and Alice Chen are at the helm of this woman powered business. Though the fates eventually brought them together back in Taiwan, ironically, all three ladies went to high school in British Columbia, Canada without ever crossing paths. Wong, SIM’s so-called “special ops” agent, makes Hong Kong her home base while traveling between LA, Vancouver, and Shanghai managing their various brands.
“We don’t limit ourselves by our location,” says Yap, who hopes to continue expanding SIM globally and showcasing the industrial design talent in Taiwan.
In fact, their location is an asset for a team responsible for staying on the cutting edge and keeping up with trends. Over the past decade, Taiwan has become a breeding ground for innovation, and hosts several high profile design fairs including YODEX (Young Designers’ Expo), one of the world’s largest exhibitions of student talent.
According to a 2017 CNN story, Taiwan has emerged from the cheap manufacturing stigma of earlier generations to become one of the world’s design super powers. Trailing only the US and Japan, Taiwan now ranks third globally per capita for patent registration, and shines in electronics, contemporary furniture, and elevated household goods.
Being immersed in a burgeoning industrial design scene has proved valuable for the SIM team, who put their own spin on high design to create the Wilshire water bottle. The result is a streamlined and thoughtful work of functional art.
“As we believe less is more, there are no extra decorative lines on Wilshire,” says Chen. “Every single curve has its intention.”
They employed a monochromatic gray palette that automatically creates a layering effect where the cap overlaps the spout, and took a page out of the fitness apparel book by adding a built in reflective strip.
Ride - an attachment accessory that lets you fasten your bottle to a bike, backpack strap, and nearly any kind of handle - also pays homage to sportswear. It’s made of durable neoprene for flexibility, water resistance, and a touch of surfer cool.
While Ride makes the Wilshire super utilitarian, it’s designed for your everyday life on the go, not the Iron Man or Tour de France. At the end of the day, most of us are looking for a water bottle that is modern, beautiful, and fun to carry around.
Wilshire is a dual walled, BPA-free water bottle that joins our family of hydration products for one more way to drink beautifully. We share a love for the planet and urban outdoor lifestyle with our customers and key design partners like SIM. From inception, to manufacturing, to its arrival at your door, every stage of Kor product design is done with care.
Even our packaging is meant to spark joy. The red stripes on Wilshire’s packaging mimic the streets and cityscapes we envision your bottle living in, and the unwrapping experience is meant to feel like opening a gift. The SIM team hid fun messages under the wrap, partly because they can, and partly because they wanted to “surprise and put a smile on our user’s face.”
They approach packaging a little differently for every Kor bottle, and let each iconic form stand out.
“Instead of adding extra decorative graphic elements to ‘design’ the packaging,” notes Chen, “We created a layout that allows each bottle to speak for itself.”
Every KOR bottle has a personality, and the Wilshire has a story of its own. The team at SIM believes in the power of brand story, and uses design to get their message through.
“We practice holistic design thinking that is informed by combining storytelling with the production process, market demand, and fun,” says Yap.
We think big things are on the horizon for SIM, and collaborating with them on Wilshire was certainly fun. When asked what their dream project would be, they said designing a bubble tea straw that regulates the perfect portion of bubbles in every sip. Wherever the road leads them next, we’re cheering them on as they continue to grow.