THREE INNOVATIONS FROM A JAPANESE DESIGN

 

 

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There are some famous aphorisms in the world of engineering design, such as Dieter Rams hallowed less but better, Le Corbusier’s perspective on the relationship between form and function which we trust you’re familiar with and Jony Ive’s assertion that good design should feel inevitable. 

 

But there are few design ideas that reference soup. And yet soup is the ingredient to which the fabulous Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa likens his process. Of course, when your design work is hunted after by global brands including Muji, Hitachi and Samsung, you can associate it with any foodstuff you like. Plus, soup makes sense when Fukasawa explains its relationship with the different markets he caters to. The seasoning of the broth differs according to different countries, cultures and brands.

 

Fukasawa now runs his own studio, which has designed everything from juice containers to escalators. The extent of pieces also shows the degree to which good design makes the world around us usable or which lets your body communicate with the environment, without thinking.

 

Read on for a summary to three of his most important pieces.

 

Don't Be. Become.

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WALL-MOUNTED CD PLAYER 

 

If this wall-mounted CD player looks recognisable, that’s because you may have seen it on display in Muji. It’s also certainly Fukasawa’s best-known piece of design. The wall-mounted CD player sums up his method: create objects that are beyond instinctual, which feel like you know them before you see them. In this case, the CD player is planned to stir memories of domestic extractor fans, which adorn the walls of millions of homes around the world. The bare, spinning disc of the CD suggests whirring fan blades, while, the drawstring cord that hangs from the base of the unit looks like a fan’s on/off switch. It requests the user to play music almost without thought and sums up the idea that good design should never need an instruction manual.

ELEVATOR 

 

When you think about it, elevators are among the most significant technologies ever created. They are what give cities such as London, New York and especially Tokyo their third dimension. They’re what make skyscrapers conceivable. Fukasawa has a very human take on these boxes. Note how when inside them, you lean against the walls, check ourselves out in the mirror and even breathe differently, depending on how many people are in the lift. These are things that people use without consciously thinking.

 

HIROSHIMA CHAIR 

 

When Fukasawa paid a visit to Maruni Wood Industry in Japan in 2004, he was blown away by the company’s particularly advanced wood carving abilities and the sheer scale of its timber yard. But it wasn’t until 2006 when Maruni asked him to design a piece of furniture for it, that their lasting partnership would begin. The piece was the unassuming Hiroshima chair. It is cleverly designed to look as though it’s carved from a single block of wood. The humble lines contradict the complexity in its production, which mixes a mixture of automation and curves that can only be worked by hand. If the idea were to create a supremely tactile, ergonomic object, then the result is an unqualified success. People who buy this chair naturally glide their hands over its back as they converse.

 

And that’s a pretty good summary of the charming humility of Fukasawa’s designs. He wants them to make you feel good, without you even noticing them.

 

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HOW TO DRESS LIKE A DESIGNER

COMME DES GARÇONS 
STRIPED SHIRT 

VISVIM
VIRGIL SUEDE BOOTS

 

NEIGHBORHOOD
SLIM-FIT T-SHIRTS

 

 

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A U T H O R
Donald Anthony

I M A G E 

Donald Anthony

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