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Naoto Space : 15 Things I learned from Naoto Fukasawa

“การออกแบบรูปร่างคือการให้รูปทรงกับคุณค่าที่ผู้คนมีร่วมกัน และปรารถนาจะก่อให้เกิดความเข้าใจแม้ปราศจากคำอธิบายทางวาจา”

เมื่อวันพฤหัสที่ผ่านมาได้มีโอกาสไปร่วมฟังงานสัมมนาชื่อว่า Naoto Space ที่จัดโดย AP ว่าด้วยปรัชญาการออกแบบวิถีญี่ปุ่นตามวิธีคิดของ Naoto Fukasawa นักออกแบบชั้นนำผู้มีผลงานหลากหลาย ที่คนไทยรู้จักกันดีก็คือเฟอร์นิเจอร์ของ Muji , เครื่องเล่นซีดี และนาฬิกาข้อมือ Twelve ของ Issey Miyake ที่นักเรียนดีไซน์จำนวนมากต่างจับจองเป็นเจ้าของ แนวคิดและการแสดงออกของเขาในการเข้าถึงแก่นสารและคุณค่าแท้จริงของสิ่งต่างๆผ่านการออกแบบนั้นเดินทางข้ามผ่านพรมแดนและอาณาเขตมากมาย และความคิดของเขาก็ได้รับการยอมรับและเคารพในระดับสากล แนวคิดที่ว่าด้วยเรื่องของการค้นหาคำใบ้ที่ซ่อนตัวอยู่ในพฤติกรรมอันเป็นจิตใต้สำนึกของมนุษย์ ซึ่งเขาให้คำจำกัดความว่า “Without Thought” หรือ “การไม่ต้องคิด” เป็นที่รู้จักแพร่หลาย รวมไปถึงเวิร์คช็อปในชื่อเดียวกันที่มีเขาเป็นผู้กำกับดูแลและมีจุดมุ่งหมายคือการแบ่งปันความคิดของเขากับผู้อื่น ในที่นี้เราสรุป 15 ไอเดียที่น่าสนใจมาแชร์ความรู้กันค่ะ

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Last Thursday I went to the Naoto Space, a talk by Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa at Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre. There were so many information and interesting design concepts that I learnt from him, and want to compile my thoughts and share with you.

Some of you may own his work, without knowing that this guy is the designer behind. Issey Miyake TWELVE watches (which sells very well here in Thailand), Muji cd-player, Maruni chair, are some of his well-known designs. And he designs a lot of products and furnitures for Muji, too, including the bed and rice-cooker.

Muji cd-player, 1999

TWELVE, for Issey Miyake

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Fukasawa ร่วมงานกับบริษัทและแบรนด์ชั้นนำระดับโลกนับไม่ถ้วนจากหลากหลายประเทศ ไม่ว่าจะเป็นอิตาลี ฝรั่งเศส เยอรมัน สวิสเซอร์แลนด์ สเปน กลุ่มประเทศแสกนดิเนเวีย และประเทศในแถบเอเชีย ในปี 2003 เขาก่อตั้ง Naoto Fukasawa Design (NFD) ในขณะที่ยังทำงานร่วมกันแบรนด์และบริษัทชั้นนำต่างๆอยู่ เรียกได้ว่าเขาเป็นที่ปรึกษาให้บริษัททั้งในและนอกญี่ปุ่นในเวลาเดียวกัน

Fukasawa มักจัดเวิร์คช็อปที่มีพื้นฐานมาจากแนวคิดของเขาที่ว่าด้วยเรื่องของการตีความจิตใต้สำนึกของมนุษย์ให้ออกมาเป็นงานออกแบบ อันเป็นสิ่งที่สามารถอธิบายได้ดีที่สุดผ่านคำว่า “Without Thought” ปรัชญาการออกแบบของเขาอันมีชื่อเสียง ตัวเขาเองได้รับรางวัลจากหลากหลายสถาบันการออกแบบ ในสหรัฐอเมริกา เยอรมณี อังกฤษ และ ญี่ปุ่น เขาได้ก่อตั้ง Super Normal ร่วมกันนักออกแบบชื่อดัง Jasper Morrison ในปี 2006 ก่อนที่จะได้รับตำแหน่ง Honorable Royal Designer for Industry จาก Royal Society of Arts ในปีถัดมา

บทบาทของ Fukasawa ยังคงแผ่ขยายเติบโตด้วยการเข้ารับหน้าที่เป็นหนึ่งใน Creative Director แห่งพิพิธภัณฑ์ 21_21 Design Sight ในโตเกียวอันโด่งดัง นอกจากนี้เขายังเป็นอาจารย์ให้กับมหาวิทยาลัยศิลปะและการออกแบบในญี่ปุ่นหลายที่ด้วย

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Naoto Fukasawa , born in 1956, is a furniture and product designer, focusing on an importance of the surroundings and environment of space. Known for this “without thought” methodology, utilise all design concepts that brings all human’s hidden desires with such receptive nature. The award winning product designer, Mr. Naoto Fukasawa has branded out and taken part in many collaboration with global brands to craft impressive design products that bring his vision to life while cultivating a higher standard of living. This time in Thailand, He is working with AP Thailand to craft the room for RHYTHM ‘The Slow Collection’ condominium in Sathorn.

This talk was the first time that he shared his experience and the process behind his works in detail. Normally, Naoto would present this concept and slideshow to his clients but not students whom he usually gives the talk to.  To wrap up the ideas , these are some main things :

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1. Minimal – Functional

Naoto Fukasawa conveys a space-efficient aesthetic where minimal design supports functionality. Reflected in every inch of formation, every conceptualising and designing, unpretentiously honest to thicken a better yet uncomplicated road of living. One simple believe, good design should blend uniformly to the natural environment.

2. Ambience Design

His design thinking is very much based on space and environment, which he calls ‘Ambience Design’. I quite like this term because ambience means everything surrounding the object : atmosphere, the air, sound, light, space around the body, or the object. Ambience is not a particular thing, but things that you feel. Actually, It is very abstract. So, every time he starts designing something,  he thinks he is going to design the ambience, not the object.

3. Affordance


“Affordance is random values each environments and situations presents to us”

This quote by James J. Gibson gives the concept of affordance to Naoto’s ambience design method. Affordance is everywhere around us. For example, the wall is afforded Naoto to rest while he was talking. And “Ambient that is filled with affordance” is a way to good design

4. Without Thought

His concept for finding hints in subconscious behaviour of people which he names “Without Thought”, is most known. It can be explained that even when you’re not fully conscious, your subconsciously knows what’s in the environment around you. You may not notice it, but your body knows and automatically work on it, without thought.

So, when he thought about he design, he thought about the process of human behaviour. In this case, it is the common behaviour that people share with other people, regardless of the culture and nationality. It is an inevitable behaviour that automatically happens. This concept gives him a hint to design small details that serve these behaviours.

Muji rice cooker

For example, Naoto illustrated some of his designs, which are the famous Muji rice cooker and the curved-out umbrella. The rice cooker has a small part on the lid which people can rest the ladle on, because he had noticed that normally they don’t know where to place it smoothly after scooping the rice out. In the same way, people may hang their shopping bags on the umbrella’s handle without noticing that they do. Then the umbrella with the curved out handle is designed so that people can hang the bags even easier than before.

5. The unforeseen qualities   

Designing shape is to give form to values that people tacitly share and wish for.  Naoto Fukasawa visually captures these subconscious values and draws the exact outlines of them. His ability for visualising such unseen outlines for things is not easily worded and described; nonetheless, people are convinced with his ability when they experience his design.

Most of the time he has created the new function to simple objects, which usually answers people’s needs without them knowing that they want it before they see it. So, it is not a surprise that his design makes people happy, because it makes lives a lot easier and fun.

6. Little things make a huge importance

Naoto believes little things make a huge importance, because people all over the world share the behaviours subconsciously. So, his design is sharing subconsciousness, and as people share these same things, small details can bring huge changes to life in a better, different way.

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7. Designing the behaviours, not just the object. 

Designing the object is not designing the object, but human behaviour and surroundings. For example, when designing the famous Muji CD player, he started thinking of all the atmosphere that control or manipulate it. It was mainly sound, and air.Mixing between sound and air, he designed the CD player like a ventilation kitchen fan, but it is the sound coming out instead of air.

Naoto also took the small detail like pulling the cord in order to play music, which totally makes people feel like it is the fan, and it is quite analogue. You can see the wheel running, and it feels way much more tangible than using the remote to turn music on. Listening to the sound like the air, makes this design iconic for almost twenty years till now.

Muji CD-player

8. The Concept of ‘Ma’ 

Space, for him, is very important. In the Japanese language, there is one particular word which is ‘Ma’ , meaning space, but it is a valuable space and totally “not empty”.

I remembered this term from when I researched about Japanese aesthetics while doing my graduate collection, which I found very interesting. ‘Ma’ could be the space between body and object, or even the amount of air between our body and our clothes.

Other legendary Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo also use the ’Ma’ quality in their works, and you often recognise that the clothes are Japanese fashion if they are voluminous, with a lot of ‘Ma’ between the skin and the fabric.

Yohji Yamamoto, circa 1984

raincoat design by Issey Miyake, modeled by Kabuki actor Kichiemon Nakamura

9. For AP, He Designed Space from Products 

Although architects and interior designers normally start designing from the plan build, Naoto wanted to start from products, because he AP recognised him as a product designer. In this way, he started designing the space like the object, from one single object, which is his famous chair designed for Maruni wood industry. After that, he designed the ambience and space from this single chair.

Maruni Chair

Maruni Chair

So, for the AP x Naoto Fukasawa project, Naoto again said that he was not designing the object, but the space between objects and others. As mentioning ambience as atmosphere : Air, light, sound, colour, texture, smell ; he aimed to create “quality ambience” , or a lot of open space around the room.

In the two type of rooms “Ambience” and “Archetype”, he questions how the space should be formed, at once answers how it should perform. First, he started by finding the spot to stand still, to start making the layout of the room and see walking patterns of the habitants : where they usually stand , or sit, or walk around.  Second, he decided the design from the view we can see subconsciously. For example, views from the sofa, views from the front door, or views from the bed, he created each scene like a beautiful picture frame.

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10. Minimum is a maximum effort

Minimal space makes you rich, because then you would not want to buy so many things to fill in.

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11. Super Normal

His designs may seem normal and not special. But it is a ‘super normal’ . For example, The Muji rice cooker may seems normal, but when people see that small detail on the lid, they suddenly know that it is Muji.

12. Good Design is universal, like a Plain Soup Stock 

When being asked if he had any problems working to serve clients worldwide, like the culture or different tastes that people have, Naoto answered that he doesn’t think that is a problem because he works with human behaviours, which are universal, regardless of culture and nationality. Good design can serve people in different areas of the world, because it is crafted from the fundamental needs of people.

Then, he compared his super normal design to the plain soup stock which is delicious, But when have to design something for the particular country, he will add the ingredients. For Japanese, it’s very important to have subtle taste, or some aftertaste on your tongue, that’s considered to be tasteful. For Thailand, he will add some spices!

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13. Always make a visual full scale model first, even you cannot sit on

The model room is very important. Crafting a full scale, very high-quality model is a very important process to make high quality designs. In his studio, the ten designers always have fun competing with each other to be the model-maker champion in the company.

14. Humble is very important, for designers

When being asked what is iconic design from his point of view, He answered that good design is iconic. “I prefer staying behind the successful design, Humble is very important, for designers.”

15. Yet he himself is beyond super normal  

In 2003, he established Naoto Fukasawa Design (NFD). He collaborates with world leading companies and brands in such countries as Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Scandinavian countries and Asian countries for their product developments, while consulting  both Japanese leading and international companies. His work for consulting had led them to many successful results.

Naoto’s area of work is broad and he works with various fields in design beyond categories. In 2006, Fukasawa founded Super Normal with his good friend Jasper Morrison. In 2007, He was accorded the title of Honorable Royal Designer for Industry.

He is one of the directors of 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo, a professor at Musashino Art University, and a visiting professor at Tama Art University. He also co-authored many books, authored an Outline of Design book, and released a compilation of his works, through Phaeton Press. And Recently had an exhibition in collaboration with a photographer Tamatsu Fuji and the published The Outline – The Unseen Outline of Things (Machete Fujingaho)

Like, Have you ever met the human version of TARS

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