THEME DESIGNER INTERVIEW VOL.14
[HIO STUDIO] Who is HIO? Introduce HIO and explain the naming process, if you will.
HIO is a small content design company made up of three designers with young sensibilities. Many of the users in the theme store call us ‘Heeyo,’ but our name comes from the English idiom to ‘hit it off’ – to get along really well, or click with someone. Because we believe that good teamwork and effective communication are just as important as talent in the design field, we decided to build our name from the first letters of this expression.
You three young designers teamed up to work together – how did that happen, and what goals did you have? Any fun anecdotes you could tell about you guys working together?
We all majored in different areas of design – visual, industrial and crafts design. We wanted to experiment with unpredictable, different kinds of design. There are a lot of advantages to working together, but we also butt heads often because our personalities are so different. It’s an environment where this kind of conflict is encouraged, so in a lot of ways we’ve become closer. We are looking to add a social welfare major for the next member of the HIO family.
The themes from [HIO STUDIO] are extremely novel – kind of like you’re looking at a webtoon or web drama. Where do you get your inspiration for characters and storytelling?
We create the characters that appear in our themes according to three themes. “People and animals coexisting,” “keywords of social issues,” and “situations that occur in everyday life.”
We created the “Young Adult Food Truck” theme after watching a story on the news while eating lunch about young people creating jobs.
The “Kitty Get-Together” theme was conceived after watching stray cats gathering every day in front of the HIO studio.
We came up with the “HIO Restaurant” theme while watching popular TV shows during lunch. Add to that The “HIO Hostel” theme – we take all of these situations that arise during day-to-day life and make them into themes.
How long does it usually take you to create a theme?
We usually take about a week to do simple themes, and about two for premium themes and ones that involve a lot of visualization. This includes the mood board, concept research, internal review, visualization, and final review. Our goal is always to take a little extra time in order to release themes of the best quality, rather than making and releasing themes quickly. Can I say that we have a kind of ‘master craftsman’ mentality?
What theme best represents [HIO STUDIO]?
I think our representative theme is “New Year’s Wish.” We ran a week-long New Year’s Wish promotion in celebration of the year of the Rooster, as an appreciation for all the fans who support HIO. So many comments said something along the lines of “I want to find a job this year,” or “May my family be happy and healthy,” or “I want to get a great score on my exam.” We created this theme with these comments in mind. We think that this theme will be remembered for a long time as an unforgettable medium for people to share these hopes and worries.
Your fan base is well known for its inspired comments. Are there any comments from your users that particularly resonated with you guys?
We got this comment on our recently released theme “Learning the doggie Paddle” – the user said “I’m not sure if this theme is me, or if I’m this theme.” Then there was another comment that said “enroll yourself in a beginner swimmer’s class and escape from the doggie paddle this summer.” That one was pretty memorable.
Any user reactions that have stuck with you?
There was one criticism from a student that we haven’t forgotten. They said, “I’m working hard to save money for HIO themes, but they’re too expensive.” It seems like our cute themes are really popular with students. We are currently planning some beautiful themes and a promotion for students who support our themes and are busy studying. Please don’t hate us too much! We really appreciate all the love you’ve shown, and ask for your continued support!
Please talk about any future plans you have, or theme concepts you are looking to explore.
We were planning to do something to get our name out to more domestic users, but we decided that we didn’t really have enough plans to introduce ourselves to other users around the world. I think moving forward we will be creating regional themes from around the world, so that our themes can be loved not only in Korea, but globally.
Please say something to the [HIO STUDIO] fans.
We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all the users out there who love and support HIO themes. We are always striving to become something like a friend – there when you’re happy or sad – for users when they open their phones and see our heart-warming themes. Please continue to give us criticism and feedback on our themes, as we will try our hardest to become a studio who has an even deeper, intimate understanding of our users. We hope fans “Hit It Off” with HIO, where we only present themes of the highest quality!