UT assistant professor breaks down cultural barriers through ‘intimate cosmetic’ brand

Adriana Rezal

Jiwon Park, assistant professor of design, was recently awarded the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Award for her project, SAIB & Co., an “intimate cosmetic” brand that aims to tackle biases of female sexuality in South Korea.

SAIB currently offers condoms, personal lubricants and hygienic wipes in minimalistic packaging. The products are only available in South Korea. Park said South Korea’s sexually conservative culture creates emotional barriers that drive many women away from purchasing or using sexual wellness products. The brand name “SAIB” flips the word “bias.”

“I’m not reinventing the condom — it already exists,” Park said. “If I can change how people conceptualize condom usage and women’s sexuality, … I think that’s the biggest impact that design can create.”

Through design and branding, SAIB’s purpose is to attract and empower women by introducing them to a market currently being catered to men. Inspired by South Korean cosmetic branding, SAIB’s aesthetic is an approachable way for women to be introduced into the sexual health market. 

Alyson Beaton, assistant professor of practice and design, said Park is using her design skills to enter the marketplace in a creative and professional way.

“As design entrepreneurs, what we generally try and do is use our design skills to co-opt and appropriate different formats that people already associate with,” Beaton said. “(Park) is really trying to encapsulate that audience and make them feel comfortable with what she’s presenting to them.”

Park said she was partly inspired by an experience she had in a class at UT when one female student promoted safe sex by creating a display using free condoms provided by University Health Services.

“She was not embarrassed at all to speak about it or do the project about it, and then everyone else in the classroom was super open about it, too,” Park said. “It was a thought-provoking moment for me.” 

Design junior Emily Park said growing up with her father’s South Korean culture made sexuality an embarrassing topic to talk about.

“I know it was both an issue for me and my sister to try and figure out, ‘How do we go about birth control,’ and stuff like that without talking to our parents,” Emily said, “It wasn’t something my family ever talked about.”

If SAIB ever expands internationally, Park said the brand would go further into markets of sexual pleasure and female sexual health.