What led you into design?
Watching robots in Sci-Fi movies and animation programs as a child was my first trigger of interest towards design. I loved the design of these robots, so I modeled some of my own using clay. I’ve dreamed of being able to activate them someday. I pretended to control my robots by talking through my watch like they do in the SFX movies (similar to what we do with Siri nowadays.) After a while, I came across web design during my days at the university. Yugo Nakamura's artwork especially fascinated me.
From these backgrounds, I remember enjoying making programs using HTML, CSS, Flash, etc. I was truly excited to see my work running on the screen. Perhaps because I felt like I have fulfilled a part of my childhood dream of being able to control robots. After I encountered iPhone, my interest moved towards simple design and application design. I became deeply interested in user interfaces where interactions between human and computer take place.
There's another trigger for my interest in design. I was greatly influenced by a product designer Sori Yanagi's 'anonymous design.’ I started to become conscious about everyday living and started appreciating the beauty in the design of 'ordinary' objects and themes around us.
What does a typical day look like?
Usually, my day starts around 7:00 am. I water my Bonsai, have a quick breakfast, and I play with my son. My work starts at 09:00, but I work from home remotely almost everyday.
Almost every morning begins with an assembly, where we sort out what to do that day. My main role is in the field of product specification and design, but this role is flexible. I solve all kinds of problems with my colleagues from various business fields, so my job involves a lot of teamwork. I also design flyers, make movies to help the sales/marketing team and so on. I find the pace and changing nature of our business very stimulating.
Around 6 pm, I am done with work for the day. After that, we really enjoying parenting.
What’s your workstation setup?
Our office is nearby Nihonbashi, an interesting area in Tokyo where new and old architectures blend in together. But I haven’t gone to the office recently.
I try to keep my working environment pretty much the same, whether it be at home or at the office. Perhaps I am surrounded with the things I love.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I'm inspired by both the digital and real world. Since I tend to live in the digital world, I consciously try to be aware of the real world as well for inspiration.
Real: On the streets - watching ordinary daily scenery is pretty inspiring. I love anonymous design in particular. I also love museum exhibitions where cutting edge designers show off their latest work.
Also, I find fashion to be a source of inspiration - COMME des GARCONS specifically fascinates me.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
I think the Nike Air Huarache is great because the design and function match each other perfectly, not to mention the cool color scheme. I will never forget the feeling when I put them on for the first time. It is a design that integrates new technology into everyday life - you can adjust the shoelaces using Siri! Often, I daydream about life in the future - and this product really stimulates my imagination.
Another is a wallet from cac studio. It has a simple and minimalistic function. It is a wonderful product which has no decoration on the exterior, and gives a sense of anonymous spirit and craftsmanship. I think it is a suitable wallet design for the upcoming cashless society. Once the Apple Card starts in Japan, I'm looking forward to carrying it in this wallet.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
Our mission is "to develop a healthcare guide for everyone," and we are building an application to achieve this. It is a medical consultation application that changes questions according to the patients' answers to their condition. It is designed to be widely used in waiting rooms by all ages, from children to the elderly, so we need to make the app accessible using a universal design. It is a very interesting and challenging project.
We have discovered that the elderly often prefer to use classic and simple design. I found the idea of digital literacy pretty interesting here. I'm learning a lot about design by engaging with hospitals and clinics.
There was one more thing that we did 3-4 years ago - a project called JINS MEME. This application measures and records information obtained from eyeglasses with sensors installed. Connecting new technology such as IoT with applications was very interesting and exciting. I've had a great learning experience from this project with the team in aiming at standardizing applications to an everyday product.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
Our company is still in an early phase and we have various issues to solve. Therefore, we not only have to focus on the product design but the design in every area of business such as sales and public relations. It is very exciting to look for solutions in every direction of the business and move forward. It is also essential to acquire medical knowledge to make our products successful - I constantly study about the medical world.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
This advice is for myself as much as it is for others.
- Find a great mentor and learn from them (seniors at work, friends or people online is fine as well.)
- Don't forget your curiosity. (We should always look for interesting things and maintain curiosity.)
- Input and output. (Keeping this cycle going is the key to build confidence.)
- Have fun. (It may be difficult to be positive every time but it is important to enjoy things.)
- Learn about Anonymous Design. (Many great Japanese designers treasure this concept. I am significantly influenced by it, too.)
Anything you want to promote or plug?