Without Reason: Naoto Fukasawa Gets to the Point

// Last Monday, October 15th, as part of Arkitektura's Design Assembly, Naoto Fukasawa spoke at Arkitektura In-Situ. Obviously for anyone interested in design, this was a must see event and it showed, the place was packed.

Naoto Fukusawa is one of the world's preeminent industrial designers.  Born in Japan, Fukusawa rose to notoriety while working for IDEO.  He left the firm in 2003 to start Naoto Fukusawa Design.  He has created beautiful, minimalist designs for Muji, B&B Italia, and Magis among countless others.  His iconic CD Player design for Muji ranks among the most influential designed objects in recent history.  Additionally, he started his own electronics and housewares brand ±0 in 2003 to bring his minimal, honest designs to life.

As soon as we got in, we grabbed some wine, some snacks and some beer and managed to find a place to stand awkwardly. Turns out we were resting our sweaty beers on a $10 000 dollar table. A sweaty, frantic and slightly agitated man, who may have worked there, bumbled around trying to clear peoples stuff from the table, spilling wine all over it in the process. Needless to say if you don’t want people resting their drinks on your furniture, don’t have Naoto Fukasawa talk at a catered event, in design obsessed San Francisco.

The overarching theme of Fukasawa’s talk was that design is about relationships.  The elements of a design must be considered as a whole, not as individual elements.  While an individual element may be beautiful, if it is not in harmony with the whole object, it should not exist. Further, the object must be considered in terms of how it relates to the world around us.  Fukusawa believes that everything in the world is a puzzle piece.  In order to create harmony, we should design objects that fit into the puzzle created by the surrounding environment.

Fukasawa suggested that we apply tacit predictions when designing.  Tacit predictions, in Fukusawa’s words, are metaphors that we as a society all understand.  For example, if he were to to design a TV, Fukusawa would leverage simple icons and forms to create a beautiful object that everyone intuitively understands.

When designing, Fukusawa recommends that we study behaviors not thoughts.  Thoughts and words can be easily misconstrued or bent to come in line with an individual's world view.  Observed behavior, on the other hand, is capable only of honesty.

Mr. Fukasawa’s work speaks for itself and he generally let it, with most of his talk consisting of him flipping through images of products he has designed. There were nuggets of wisdom though, like his rules for good design: Must be beautiful, must be easy to use and people must like it without reason.

// Lorris

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