Book of the day: Naoto Fukasawa
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Naoto Fukasawa (b. 1956) is one of the best-known Japanese product designers working today. Fukasawa’s design philosophy relies on careful observation of what people do and feel in their everyday lives. This keen study allows Fukasawa to find simple solutions that touch the senses and link to shared memories. By working with the `iconic’ value of a product, be it a watch or a sofa, Fukasawa is able to come up with designs that address the common knowledge about things that people have. His groundbreaking wall-mounted CD player for MUJI in 1999 was based on the image of a kitchen fan and moved away from all the conventions of hi-fi equipment manufacture. It was a simple appliance, restrained in appearance and function, and very different from the numerous black boxes that had become the standard in the market.
Interestingly, as Fukasawa’s products are based on people’s common and not always conscious view of things, his design solutions sometimes swim against the current of received opinions to achieve popularity and success. The LCD TV monitor he designed for PLUS MINUS ZERO reinstates the shape of the cathodic-tube TV set instead of becoming even thinner; his mobile telephone Infobar for KDDI/au has large keypads, referring back to the first models of the 1980s.
The book is the first monograph published in English of the work of this innovative designer. Edited by Fukasawa himself with contributions by writers from East and West, it includes a selection of his products to date, ranging from umbrellas and vases to sofas and telephones. Illustrated with never-before-seen photographs and drawings, Fukasawa’s text elucidates the ideas behind each of his projects. Essays by artists, designers, and lecturers, notably Anthony Gormley, Jasper Morrison, and Bill Moggridge from IDEO, complete the book by giving an account of Fukasawa’s design philosophy and of the significance of his work for the contemporary design world.