The Definition of Good Design
”To take the relation between people and things or the environment and shed light on it to find suitable and optimal solutions is my job.”
Japanese design pioneer, Naoto Fukasawa, shares his work process, philosophies, and thoughts on good and bad design. Read more …
Of course, Naoto Fukasawa drew as a child. But growing up with a father who was an electrician, he was also constantly surrounded by different tools that opened a world to create that went beyond drawings. When the time came to choose what to study, Fukasawa decided to become a product designer. “The first ten to fifteen years, I thought that the making of good forms or beautiful forms was my job,” he explains. “I was told that designs differ according to peoples’ taste. I don’t think so,” Fukasawa says and elaborates: “Instead of asking the opinion or sense of people, it’s better to be quiet and observe. I am sure that there are things that all people will like. I don’t know if you could call it universal. But I deliberately use this intuition and try to give it a form. To keep quiet and try to show is the essence of design.”
Known for his minimalistic aesthetics, Fukasawa has designed products for several respected companies, including the iconic Japanese lifestyle store, MUJI. When talking about simplicity in design Naoto Fukasawa says: “Simple is not just a question of form, but also of harmony.” To him, the best-designed products needn’t necessarily be noticeable: “They just have to be there when you need them, without causing trouble. They show their love best by being quiet.” To achieve this in his design, Fukasawa uses the same method: “To observe people, their surroundings, space, and things have become a natural habit of mine.”
“If a designer thinks about structure together with an engineer, it’s actually easier to do this ‘design thinking.” An essential part of Naoto Fukasawa’s design process lies within his collaboration with skilled craftsmen and engineers: “As an industrial designer, the knowledge of the whole industrial production process from design to the factory is very important,” he says and continues: “Design is to have the power to feel and understand what everybody will like. And make sure this is understood by the craftsmen or the engineers. It’s not just something you should feel. The designer should also know precisely how to realize it.”
Naoto Fukasawa (b. 1956) is a Japanese industrial designer, author, and educator, working in product and furniture design. He is known for his product design work with the Japanese retail company MUJI, as well as work with and for companies such as Herman Miller, Alessi, B&B Italia, Magis, and HAY. In 2003 Naoto Fuksawa started working independently after several years for Seiko Epson and IDEO San Francisco. His designs span a variety of fields, from precision electronic equipment to furniture, interior spaces, and architecture. Fukasawa determined that the impetus for design is found in people’s unconscious behavior and named this “Without Thought.” Naoto Fukasawa has been working on the advisory board of Muji and is on the judging panel of the Nikkei Shimbun’s Superior Products and Services Award. He was the Good Design Award chairman from 2010 to 2014. He has also judged on the Braun Prize in 2012. In 2018 he was awarded the Isamu Noguchi Award.
Naoto Fukasawa was interviewed in his studio in Tokyo, Japan, by journalist Jens H. Jensen in April 2022.
Camera: Yudai Maruyama
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
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