copain bakery in seoul wooyoung kim choutac chung the design sketchbook s
Kim is a baker at Seoul. He creates his bread starting with sketching.

Hello Design sketchers !

Too many beginners are afraid of sketching, being afraid of what other people may think. Feeling ashame of showing their clumsy drawings so much they decided to do not sketch at all.

“It’s like Oh I can’t sing, so I don’t sing. But then how are you gonna learn how to sing?”

This is why I have today a inspiring story to share with you that do not come from a designer, but a baker from Seoul who sketch. 

His name is Kim Wooyoung, a Korean baker who Sketch his bakeries before making them. (Yes, yes! Design is everywhere, and it’s also about food!) Kim has no skills in drawing, but he still sketch and get super creative!

He’s also a great example of perseverance pursuing his dream to become a baker, in a country where success is equal “being a doctor or a lawyer”. Some of you, aspiring designers may relate to his story.

“Courage is not the lack of fear. It’s feeling fear but still acting.” – Tony Robbins.

Kim sketches when he used to work at “Tous les jours”, a korean chain of bakeries – at the R&D department.

Kim doesn’t look for making “realistic sketches” or neither good one. He would draw a Pain aux raisins with a simple spiral with few little shape in 2 seconds and done ! All what he needs is have a quick memo of his idea so he won’t lose it the day he needs it.

A “Pain aux raisins” (Bread with grapes)

TIP: When you got a new idea, draw it fast, and do it now.
Then later on, you can take your time to devleopp it further.

Kim sketches to innovate, test and propose new products to his clients. His drawing are pretty naive. But do not underestimate them. These “clumsy sketches” make his business grow. Why ? Because what matter most for him is the idea.

He could have considered himself not talented in drawing and decided not sketching anything. Instead, he created a simple system that works well for him – where he’s the creator but also the decision maker. He does not have to show them to convince anyone else.


Kim learned baking in France for 3 years. (So we spoke in French, my native tongue).

When most korean students going abroad are sponsored by their parents, Kim paid for all. He invested his savings to learn baking and become professional. He flew to Paris without speaking a word in French, and bet all his saving to come back as a professional baker.

  • He started to study French for 6 months
  • Then 6 more to study bakery
  • And 2 years working as a professional.

He’s now back in Seoul, and has opened his own bakery just 1 month ago with his friend ! His 3 years investment finally pays out. He runs his own bakery and design his own creation.

Too many beginners refuse to sketch because they can’t sketch. But then, when are you gonna start ? A french expression says: “The snake is bitting its tail”. Are you biting your tail ?

If yes,  stop feeling shame. People won’t care you today level, but they will care your progression. To do so, you gotta make your first steps at sketching. Do not worry about other people thinking. It does not matter.

Draw and feel how much you enjoy creating new ideas in your mind and dropping them on paper. Kim may not be the greatest sketcher, but he did that first step and I think he’s everyday happy.

Kim is a calm, humble and a smiley person. However, what he accomplished impress me. You know, it’s the kind of people who are quiet, but have amazing stories to hear and learn about. I wanted to know more and asked him some questions:

Kim’s next project: go back to France studying Patisserie !

Chou-Tac: How do you get your ideas to create?

Kim: I spend a lot of time thinking.

Chou-Tac: Do you sketch your ideas?

Kim: Yes

Chou-Tac: Would you be ok to show me your sketches? You might inspire the readers of my blog about product design sketching. I wanna show that creativity comes from anywhere. Not only from a design studio.

Kim: Yes, but I feel shame to show my drawings.

Chou-Tac: Don’t worry. What matter most is not the quality of your sketches, it’s how they help you.

Did you know the slices made on the top of the baguette can actually be a baker signature? The way the bread is sliced on top will define the taste. It influences the way the bread will grow in the oven. Kim taught me also that the steam goes through the slices so the bread can inflate.

Kim: The sketches are in my house. Can I bring tomorrow ?

Chou-Tac: Yes, I’ll be back to meet you again ! 🙂

A day later, I am flipping the pages of Kim’s sketchbooks. The sketchbooks are actually cheap note books. Nothing fancy, neither “arty feel”. There is even some mispelling on the cover. Once again, what matter are the ideas not the “packaging”.


TIP: Beginners tend to start looking for legitimity to build self-confidence. So they buy an expensive Sketchbook. “I invest in expensive and quality material, I am training hard to be a designer.” Wrong. The inverse effect may apply.
Buy an expensive sketchbook with a thick and nice cover, and you may end leaving it empty – being to worried to spoil it with your beginner sketches.

As a beginner, you wanna spend most of your time exploring techniques, learn, failing, iterate… Get a cheap sketchbook or draw on spare paper (you can gather with a plier), so you won’t be afraid of failing. By definition, a sketch book is not a gallery of beautiful sketches like what you see on internet. A sketchbook is a place where you gather your ideas and improve. Remember that a sketch = unfinished drawing.
Kim’s sketchbooks are his “Research idea center”, not a portfolio.


When Kim was looking for a logo for his company. Why a snail ? Because it’s slow. Like a bread needs time in the oven. Longer the bake, tastier it become (minimum 4 hours).

Kim: I need to put my ideas of recipe on paper to realease them. I can refer back to them anytime. But my sketches are not good I am not sure you understand.

Chou-Tac: I do understand. But these sketches are made for yourself only. They are not aimed to be shown to others, right ? So what matter is that the sketches talk to you.

Kim: Yes exactly. The sketches “talk to me”.

Chou-Tac: When you see your own sketches, it reactivates your memory and associate it texture, the crips, the colours, the volume… and so on. Your sketches are  connected to your visual memory.

Kim: Yes, and it’s also about perfume.

When do you like sketching ?

Kim: I especially like to sketch at home before sleeping. When I am alone. It’s quiet.

Did you learn sketching at your bakery school in France ?

Kim: No, no. There is no course for that. Sketching is not compulsory. In fact, in bakery, we do not sketch. I was inspired from my friends in France who study arts.

How long does it take you to make a sketch ?

Kim: Very fast. It can be 1 minute. When I have an idea, I can experiment it fast and propose it to my clients the day after.

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
― Henry David Thoreau

copain bakery in seoul wooyoung kim choutac chung the design sketchbook e
Kim, Tahion and myself 🙂

What is the difference between French and Korean bread?

In Korea I can propose a lot more creative products, we look for variety and novelties.
In France we look for tradition, we pursue excellence and quality.
There is no right or wrong. It’s for me two different pleasure as a Baker to accomplish.

In Korea, bread are considered like a dessert. This is why many bread are sweet and soft. The Korean word for “Bread” is the same as for “Cake”.

TIP: As a product designer, look for cultural difference ans specificities, so you can better create for local people. Your vision and interpreation may not be right. Do not only feed your memory of forms. Travel and meet people to enrich your “Culture memory” !
Bonus TIP: If you are student, I recommend you to study a foreign country for your graduaction project. That’s where you will find a lot of treasures and impress your jury with a meaningful project.

How does it affect your process of creation?

Korea loves fashion, change, novelties. French bread has a lot of regulation to respect: Gramms, measurement, aspect… But in Korea there is no such rule ! We can do anything we want. I like to reinvent the basics into new creation. The components that matter are the combination of Aspect, perfume, colour… We mainly look for the harmony.

However, the taste is not the top priority here. The aesthetic yes. It’s the experience of trying soemthing new that matter most. If a Korean try something and it’s not good, it’s fine. He will try something else. Here in Korea, I worked for “Tous les jours” (A korean bakery brand using a French name) where I was part of the research and devlopment team.

I miss the research of quality though like we do in France. But Korea offers me more freedom in my creation. I personnaly enjoy Patisserie. So I try to input that fun inside my bakeries. One day I wish going back to France to study Patisserie because it’s very creative!


Does it happen you sketch something, and the day after, we could find your porduct on the shelves?

Yes. I can experiment fast. My clients enjoy coming back discovering new things!

Do you always sketch your ideas?

Sometime, I realise on the spot. But most of the time I sketch my ideas first.


Why did you choose COPAIN as you brand name?

“COPAIN” has 2 definitions: The first one means friendship. I want a place where my clients feel good and friendly. The second meaning is Shaing bread (Co-Pain). People who share bread or food are basically friends. Plus I look for a warm friendship, like bread.

I have learn a lot from you. Especially that what matter the most the good looking of the sketch, but the idea on paper.

The lesson I extract from your experience is that: If you are afraid of sketching, making ugly one, you stagnate at level 0. However, if you do clumsy sketches and keep going, it’s enough for you to create beautiful products.

Sketching something clumsy will bring THOUSAND MILES further than sketching nothing. Don’t be afraid, and start !


Education in Korea gives a lot of pressure to students.

I met Kim again few days after to take a picture with him. We chit chat about the difference between the education culture in Korea and in France.

Chou-Tac: Hey Kim, Korean studends have a lot of pressure about their degrees and path to universities right ?

Kim: Yes, in Korea we need to show to our family and the society that we succeed. To do so, become wealthy is the best sign of a life success.

Chou-Tac: Do you mean you need a big house, a big car so your family can be proud ?

Kim: Definitely. We are under a lot of pressure to become a doctor, a lawyer and so on and join a big company like Samsung for example.

Chou-Tac: I see. In France there is a lot of people also like that though.

Kim: Oh yeah ?

copain bakery in seoul wooyoung kim choutac chung the design sketchbook b

Chou-Tac: Yes, but of course not as predomninant like in Korea.

Kim: I felt in France people could do whatever they like.

Chou-Tac: That’s true. We have more freedom to follow our own path. In France if you wanna become a baker, a chef, or anything is welcome. At 16 years old, you can follow a lot of professional training.

Kim: Yes, it’s called he CAP degree.

Chou-Tac: When I was young, a lot of young student who don’t like school took this path. A good number of them succeed, while some high graduated students will struggle looking for job. Why ? Because we’ll always need their skills.


Chou-Tac: How did you manage to convince your parents to let you go study bakery in France ?

Kim: Usually in Korea, parents pay for all the fees for their kids abroad. In my case, I decided to pay for everything: the flight ticket, the studies and so on… I saved money and I could work in France while I studied too.

Chou-Tac: Wow ! You are a great example of motivation ! I admire you follow doing what you love and pursue your dream.

I also agree to succeed, there is no need to become rich for the sake of showing off your big house or car. Success is about being happy working in something we love.

Kim: There is no point accumulating things. When you are rich, you are tempted to buy many things. And to me, when I own many things, I am confused.

Chou-Tac: Haha ! Yes, it’s like Obama (when he was president) who do not have to decide about his clothing or meal of the day. So he has lesser things to think about.

Kim: Mark Zuckerberg as well ! I saw a documentary showing this is the reason why he wear a jean and t shirt everyday.

Chou-Tac: Congrats Kim, for having opening your own bakery and being so creative ! And thank you for sharing with us your amazing experience :).


I really appreciate Kim’s wisedom. He’s young, humble and demonstrate his motivation not by words but the acts. I believe his parents are proud of his entreprenarial spirit.

“We have only one life. Make it meaningful.”

Don’t get me wrong, above we are not saying getting wealthy is wrong. But that should not be the priority: The passion is. We have only one life. Make it meaningful.

An other point is that there is no right or wrong about culture society. We all have different stories. I went to the national museum in Korea. It showed how the country did evolve from a farmer land to a super power in less 50 years despite of the wars. For the country to stand up, education has been in the center of everything. Few decades ago, kids used to study in the wood as their school was demolished. Now in 2017, education is still in the center of everything.

“Safety may not always be the best answer to happiness.”

Wherever you come from. If you have difficutlies to convince your parents, try to understand their point of view, where they come from. All parents want their kids safe and healthy. Even though safety may not always be the best answer to happiness. In a civilisation where hunger was the priority, we could realise the gap of the generation mindset. So never get mad at them. It’s your role to tell them what you want and look for ways to get your independancy to follow your own choices. Remember that there is no single way to become a designer.

Beside that, let me share with you more pictures of the yummy food made by Kim and his team ! :9


When customers come, the team come introduce their creation.
I enjoyed coming his bakery to blog and prepare the future sketching courses.
My neighbours.
So cute !! A snail-croissant !!


I was so happy eating bread made with the French style !! I missed it so much being Asia for quite a few months already. Thank you Kim and your team !!

PS: I am preparing the launch of Sketch Like The Pros 2017 for soon ! 🙂


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