Angie Ha

07.17 2016 INTERVIEW DATE

Gurm by h, Lifestyle director

Bangbae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

While all of her friends dreamed of becoming an elegant career woman, Angie Ha pictured herself differently—she dreamed of growing up into a housewife. A woman who brings to life the fantasies and passion of a housewife, Angie Ha is a mom to two daughters and doubles as a lifestyle director for the kids & lifestyle select shop she found. She talks about ‘home and family,’ in terms of how they are tightly linked to each other, like needles and thread. Her interests which had purely coursed towards her home only, now expands outside her front door but her lifestyle, which centers around her family and the meaning of home, still remains the same.

Yoojin Jung

Can we first hear a little bit about the kids & lifestyle select shop ‘gurm by h’ (www.gurmbyh.com) you found?

It’s more focused on introducing kid’s loungewear and underwear rather than the rest of the kidswear in the closet, and on the practical function of household items rather than the design. And all the items point to one direction—they’re everything you need for activities held inside your home. It had always been fascinating to see a variety of shops with obvious concepts in Japan, but sadly there aren’t that many like those here. So it led to my idea of creating a household-specific select shop of homely kidswear and good quality products that I use myself at home.

 

It sounds like all of your selections starts from your personal interests.

Since elementary school I loved to draw floor plans to arrange or rearrange furnitures in my room, referring to the furniture brand ads that I saw in my mom’s magazines. In the 1970’s a lot of knitting or lunchbox related books were published so I browsed through those quite often too. I guess I was pretty much into living and household duties since I was a little kid.

 

Many tend to look into interiors or household related things only after marriage. Is there a reason why you had such different interests from others since you were little?

My mom would take out a large, black plastic bag filled with real cheesy and sparkly ornaments from the attic every Christmas to adorn the house with them. If you walked into the front door it just hit you right away that Christmas was near.(laugh) And she’d make this huge tonkatsu (fried pork) and macaroni salad and serve them on a humongous plate, with knives and forks to complete the set. She’d be so enthusiastic in cooking sincere meals for the family and giving changes to the decorations at home along the change of seasons and I really loved that warm and loving air in the house. Home was like a playground for me. Right after college graduation I got married and very soon got pregnant with our first child and I think this gradually got me interested in the dwelling environment.

 

It seems like you were happy as a full-time housewife and a mom.

As a mom, I find great joy out of the activities that I do for the family. I must admit, there are partial views from society which underestimate the values of household duties but if you’re a person who loves the housewife life, you get a different perspective about the chores at home. I think the value and position of a housewife depends on how determined you are with the fact of being one. And, to say this myself is a little embarrassing, I pursue a family-centered life. I believe that among the roles as a mom, there’s one that unites the family into one. It was all about the work at home and now I’ve been going back and forth to an actual workplace but how I spend leisurely time at home with my family is still the same. And I think because of that, our lifestyle of enjoying a variety of activities in the house, such as having family meals at home, listening to music, or enjoying our own little play stuff like playing with water in our terrace, seem to naturally carve into the atmosphere of our house.

 

We heard you moved as often as seven times after marriage. Did such frequent move give any influence in the interior arrangement or your lifestyle?

Usually when you move, it gives a chance to get rid of some of the things at home and find new ones to replace them. And I had experienced that every year and doing so, I started questioning myself about the real necessity of the product I’m about to purchase. Regardless of how nice a product is, if you don’t make good use out of it, it’s better not to have it in the first place. The seven moves have helped me define my own standard for consuming. And I also got to realize that I wasn’t the type who likes to move.

 

Can you elaborate a bit on that?

What I’m most envious of is a life living in a house you were born until the time when you have to leave, to strike out or to get married. When I hear about an episode of a newly wedded couple making new furnitures out of the tree the grandfather or the father had planted in the yard to celebrate the birth of that person, it gets me all excited and warm. This is such a great example of a family history embedded in the house. Crooked scribbles the kids make on the walls where markings of their heights have been made every year, the lighting you and your husband picked out and hung—the house itself becomes a story. As such, I’d love to live in an old house where it demands for my touch and care, but it was all so sad to leave the house as soon as our stories began to build up.

 

You’ve continuously lived around Seorae Village (Bangbae-dong). Is there a certain feeling unique to this area?

There’s a French school nearby and it gives me a pleasant feeling whenever I see foreign kids chatting and walking by after school. It feels like I’m on a trip to another country while I’m still in Seoul. The ambience has changed compared to the past but it still does feel most exotic out of all areas in Seoul. And it’s a great place to take leisurely walks due to fewer cars in the allies.

 

You were born and raised in Seoul—what does the city mean to you?

Except for the year I spent in New York after marriage, I’ve always been living in Seoul. But strangely, I don’t quite get the city. Everytime I return from a trip abroad, honestly speaking, I usually get to think of Seoul as a boring city. Not the city itself, I mean the people seems boring. For instance, in other countries, people could just say friendly hellos to anyone all so naturally, without being offended or anything, but in Seoul, majority of the people seem angry and too ignorant. Well, I take part in that boredom too (laugh), but everyone just seems too uptight.

 

What’s your biggest interest now?

Personally I try to keep the balance between work and family and work-wise, I’ve been agonizing over the course of consuming that I’d like to propose to people. Applying the experiences and know-hows I’ve achieved as a housewife, such as the times when I regretted buying something just because of its pretty-looking features, I think I’m capable of being a good help to those in need for assistance regarding all sorts of household duties. To suggest a lifestyle that spends money wisely and makes good use of the product selected sensibly is the role I’d like to take in the midst of the world of flooded products.

 

RECOMMENDED PLACE

Gurm by h Showroom

1F, 50-2, Bangbaero 42gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul
7 Naebang
02-536-6148
11:00-19:00 (Tue-Sat)

“It’s my other home, filled with things that I’m fond of.”

 

 

Going back and forth home and work(showroom) is a daily routine for Angie Ha and it’s probably obvious for her to recommend this place. The kids&lifestyle select shop which opened among the narrow streets of Bangbae-dong in spring of 2016, is arranged with a ‘house’ concept, re-enacting a kitchen, a bathroom and a kid’s room. It is adorned with practical and beautiful household items and kidswear with unique colors and patterns, which majority of them are products she introduces after her actual experience. It is also a mom-focused store, providing a diaper changing table, a nursery room and a corner for kids to play with toys as much as they please.