We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Takusei Kajitani ("TK").
Born on 28 April 1966 in Kyoto City and spent childhood time in Kurashiki City of Okayama Prefecture. Studied urban design at Kyoto University ,wrote a treatise on urban image formation. Particularly influenced by "The City of the Images", Kevin A. Lynch and "Notes on the Synthesis of Form", Christopher Alexander at that time. Began working for the design consulting department of the interior design and construction company in Tokyo for 5 years. Changed jobs to the advertising company Hakuhodo in 1995, and worked for the spatial design department that plans, designs, and produces various corporate branding facilities. In 2007, established Hakuhodo Experience Design, which specialized in "spatial experience design" and have been promoting various businesses with the theme of experience design that brings good relationships between corporates and the users. Established Consentable as private studio in 2014, after which I began to work on the theme of digital life furniture.
Takusei Kajitani Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Takusei Kajitani.
Designer Interview of Takusei Kajitani:
DI: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
TK : When I was a student, I studied urban design at Kyoto University. At that time, I was impressed by a book called "Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander. He was an architect, famous for saying that "a city is not a tree," and he argued that urban planning is not a top-down process, but a bottom-up one. He compiled the elements that make up a city like a "language," creating a kind of dictionary for architects, which he wrote down as theory in his book "Pattern Language." He thus created a stir in the urban planning industry of the time by presenting the idea that urban planning could be achieved by designing each small facility in harmony with each other. I fully agreed with his idea and thought that a bottom-up approach was needed not only in urban planning but in all of our designs. And I wanted to be a designer with that perspective. So I believe it is important to think of design not as mere decoration, but as a part of the larger plan that is our lives. After graduation, I wanted to work on designing various stores as components of a city, so I joined an interior design firm and designed several stores and commercial facilities. After that, I wanted to work on design with a slightly broader perspective, so I moved to the spatial experience design department of an advertising company. There, I have been involved in the planning, design, and production of brand experience facilities for various companies. In 2014, I launched Consentable as my personal studio to work on designs other than client work, and I continue to design and develop digital life furniture.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
TK : Consentable is a furniture design studio for developing the digital-life furniture founded in 2014 by Takusei Kajitani. Our vision is to innovate the daily lives of modern intellectuals using various devices to be simple by Japanese sensibility. We convey two meanings in this coined word of Consentable. One is "Able to be connected" to Concent which means power outlet in Japan, and the other is "Able to be agreed" by users. With this concept at the core, we will be designing and producing various types of digital life furniture with Japanese craftsmanship. Consentable's activities to date include the following We have unveiled our first product WT, PC work desk at Tokyo Designer’s Week in TOKYO in 2014, and MT, multiple-table as the secondary product at IFFT Interiorlifestyle living in TOKYO in 2015. After that, we have exhibited our pieces at various Design exhibition such as Salone del Mobile Milano and Paris Design Week in 2016, Hong Kong Design Week in 2017, NEW YORK Design Week in 2018 and 2021.
DI: What is "design" for you?
TK : For me, "design" is like an important part for philosophizing my life as a homo sapience. Also I believe that design is a very effective planning tool for our humanity to "live" well. I often wonder why "design" was born in the human race. It is said that our human ancestors began designing stone tools for food processing during the Lower Paleolithic Period, about 3 million years ago. This was long before the discovery of fire. In other words, "design" may have existed even before the formation of collective societies such as families and hunting groups. In other words, "design" may have arisen not only to express something to the collective society, but also as a result of greed for "survival" in the harsh environment of ancient times. Of course, today's environment is easier to live in than in ancient times, and expression in collective society has become more important, but still, when we look to the long distant future, we should create the "design" that human-being needs to "live" well. After all, I think it is important to design from our own insatiable desire to "live" well. I believe that design is an important task that makes me think about the relationship between both large and small perspectives, such as "now" in long histories of human-being, and "here" in the diverse places on the earth.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
TK : I like the design process that creates some new experiential value. It is a process that offers a completely new perspective on a product that has existed as a matter of course and something surprises that delights the users. It is an exciting and fun process for me like thinking of some little prank. And it makes me happy when I see a scene in which users are having happy experiences because of the design I created. I like that moment. Whether I am thinking of architecture, interior design, furniture, logo design, or any other kind of design, the process is very exciting.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
TK : My favorite is Swing. When I ask my friends to sit in Swing, they all look surprised and enjoy the new experience. It is so much fun for me. The idea of Swing started when I began to work from home because of COVID 19. As a football enthusiast, I had a growing sense of anxiety that my body would continue to decline because of all day sitting. I heard similar concerns from my teammates, and I began to think about designing a chair that would benefit them. Then, as I learned a lot from the books on the human body structure, I became very interested in the importance of the human sense of balance and unconscious body manipulation. This is how I came up with the image of Swing. Most chairs are designed based on the idea that sitting is a static action, even though the human body is designed to move. This may cause our bodies to remain still for long periods of time and accelerate the decline of our physical senses. Swing is designed to allow the seat to move freely like a small swing in conjunction with the movement of the sitter's pelvis. The Swing has a structure that allows the seat to move freely like a small swing, in conjunction with the pelvic movement of the sitter. It is a stool that aims to activate the body's senses while enjoying the feeling of floating. I feel I have designed a good solution for people with similar problems in Work From Home.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
TK : It was Consentable / WT. It is a specialized table for PC users with the ability to store noisy power cords, USB cords, and various devices under the table top. In addition, Consentable WT Ao, an upgraded version of WT completed with a wood indigo finish, received Bronze A' Design Award in 2021.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
TK : Wood is my favorite material because I am charmed the unique and beautiful grains which tells the own stories of the growing in the nature. If every tree also had conscious, wood would be talking to us humans by grains. In addition, I am very interested in traditional Japanese woodworking techniques such as Kumiki, Sashimono that use no steel nails in all joints. I think this wisdom to use wood effectively will continue to be valuable in different ways.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
TK : I have to say it is the early mornings with quiet atmosphere, beautiful sun light, bird singing, and smell of greens. I can feel my lively energy as a humankind if I could feel standing on the earth in the animated surrounding. After that, I can feel the most creative myself. And no matter what the weather is, no matter where you are, it will always come.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
TK : I focus on providing user experiences that change their preconceived values and perspectives. I want to design something that might look the same but have different functions, new experience values to the users.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
TK : I'm just focused and acting innocently like a kid. It's been my habit for a long time, but when I concentrate on something, I get into a consciousness that seems to be separated from the surroundings. This is often the case when designing.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
TK : Unfortunately, once completed, I am not very impressed because I always want to check the various point for improvements. Sometimes I even think that completion means giving up on improvements. But when I see users enjoying the experience with it, I feel a totally different sense of delights. From then on, I feel positive about the effectiveness of the design.
DI: What makes a design successful?
TK : I think the shortcut to a succesfull design is to make improvements from the user's point of view over and over again. However, we must be careful not to blur the design concept at that time. In other words, I think it is important to accumulate small improvements for the user experience while making sure that the big concept that the product is aiming for does not blur. I believe that both a solid axis of concept and the accumulation of small improvements will lead to a successful design.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
TK : When judging the quality of a design, I always focus on scarcity. In particular, I focus on the scarcity value of the experience. . What is designed becomes a product, is used by the user, and is eventually disposed of as waste. Considering that what I design becomes a product, I believe that I should not design too many products that have no scarcity value. In addition, I also place importance on the potential of the design to become a standard in the future. Our lives are changing rapidly with the times, and what is required of design will also change with the demands of the times. In this context, I believe it is important for designers to design with an awareness of the standards of the next generation.
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
TK : What always comes to my mind when designing is the Native American famous phrase, "The earth is borrowed from the next generation of children." I think it is very important to have this perspective at an early stage of design. In particular, I believe that the environmental problems caused on a global scale are major issues not only for designers but also for our children as future humankind. I think that designers should have the responsibility of not designing anything which is not sustainable as well as designing usable things.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
TK : I think that “design field” is expanding as quickly as the urbanization of the earth now. I think that “design field” which has started with inventing stone tools 3 million years ago is evolving at an amazing speed that humankinds cannot keep up with in this era. On the contrary, the nature and resources on the earth, which are the raw materials for design products, will gradually decrease at an amazing speed. So, I think it become the normal design that we always have to redesign our environment with reusing existing products or cities in the near future. In other words, I think it will be very important for future design that the sustainability is considered from production to disposal in the beginning of designing. Now, we are standing on the being-damaged earth where should be rewrote with new ways of design.
DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
TK : I have exhibited "Swing Ao" stool with a swinging seat at “A'Design Award Winners exhibition" in Como,Italy last July.I also want to participate in Milan Design Week again and to enjoy communicating with various designers from all over the world in the near future.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
TK : My design inspiration begins with discovering the problems of our modern life. For example, "Consentable /MT" is a product design that solves a problem in life where noisy wirings on the tables has become the norm because of the various digital devices. The design presents a solution to a private problem: the need to organize the desktop without noisy wirings. This is my problem, but it is also a problem that many modern intellectuals have, and I felt it necessary to design a new dining table to solve this problem. Designing to solve a problem is like trying to solve a complex mathematical problem. And when a beautiful answer is comming to me, the skeleton of the design is complete. After that, as a finishing touch, I always think about how to reflect my sense of style in the design. This is like a field of expression where there is no right answer. This is how my inspiration takes shape.
DI: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
TK : Many users seem to think of my design as a category of minimal design. Actually, I am aiming to the simple and functional design that eliminates waste gives such an impression. I like the simple design that combines functionality and beauty, so that might be my style. At the same time, I think it might be better to put a more sustainable message in my design.
DI: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
TK : I live in Tokyo, Japan. Since ancient times, Japanese people have a culture of enjoying the four seasons of nature, a sense of beauty that prefers to be simple and rational, and woodworking techniques that do not use nails. They have a great influence on my design. Rather, I would like to regenerate them to the modern daily life. There are still quite a few craftsmen who have inherited these techniques in Japan. I think it is a great advantage to be able to design on the premise of using the excellent technology of such craftsmen. On the contrary, if there is a design disadvantage of being in Japan, it is that the traditional cultural heritage is being lost due to the excessive urbanization and globalization in Japan. I feel this is a big problem for Japanese design.
DI: How do you work with companies?
TK : Consentable is a private studio that I managed, so fortunately I can do everything I want. When I work with companies, I try to get them to understand the value of my design as much as possible and work as if we were co-creating new valuable project.
DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
TK : I think that you can work happily if you hire a designer who has sufficient sympathy for the vision and corporate value that the company aims for. Of course, the results will be more satisfying. In my opinion, good designers are usually more capable of understanding the client's true vision and have the flexibility to improve their design at each meeting.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
TK : My design work begins with finding a problem to solve in my daily life. In finding the problem, I focus on what I can strongly feel it. Once I have identified the problem, I spend many days thinking carefully about how to solve it in my daily life. Then, once I have something in mind, I draw a rough image sketch. I use paper and pencil, and the pen tool on my iPad. It's easier to get ideas if I draw lines freely by hand. I also sometimes research designs in completely different fields. By going back and forth between these two tasks for a while, imagining the problem to be solved in my daily life and making hand-drawn sketches, I get closer to a solution. Then, at some point, inspiration strikes. At that moment, the skeleton of the design is complete. Once the design skeleton is complete, the first step is to create a mock-up using easy materials . We then have various people try out the mockup and see their reactions. At this stage, we may make minor adjustments to the design as we receive feedback from users. After that, we will conduct a detailed design to enhance the completeness of the design, find a craftsman who can brush up the mock-up, and hand over the blueprints to him or her to confirm whether or not the product can be commercialized and what precautions need to be taken. Then, through repeated trial and error with the craftsman, the design is completed along with the mock-up.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
TK : My favorites at home are almost my works such as a stool Swing, work desk WT, dining table MT, lighting Fragile. And last one is Motorcycle DUCATI monster.
DI: Can you describe a day in your life?
TK : It’s very simple like below. I wake up in the morning and check the weather, air, sunlight outside and usually stretch and workout for inner muscle. After that, I have a breakfast and conversations with my family, and check the today’s schedule and emails with my macbook or smartphone. I usually work from home after COVID-19, and have some meetings with my colleagues by online or smartphone, or focus on each project. Sometimes I go jogging for a change when I don't have a meeting. I also have more opportunities to cook for my family. Anyway, I always work very relaxed. Alternatively, I go to exhibitions, flip through design-related magazines and books, and expand my ideas on a daily basis. After work, it's time for dinner with my family. Since I started working from home, I've become more familiar with making slightly elaborate meals and opening wine and beer. It's a fun time. In the midst of this everyday life, in the midst of normalcy, I am always thinking about the next design. The problems that need to be solved are in my daily lives, so I focus on thinking about them in that context. And I am always waiting for hints of solutions to arise by chance.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
TK : The profession of designer is a very important, meaningful and interesting profession that will affect the future of humankind. Going back to the history of design in a broad sense, the design of stone tools about 3 million years ago was the first. After that the design on how to use fire around a million year ago, and then decorations, cave paintings, musical instruments 30,000-80,000 years ago. Surprisingly, the design of architecture and letters is an event of only about 10,000 years ago. Anyway, as you can see from the history of design, design has the power to change human civilization. What I would like to convey to young designers is to work on design from a big perspective, to think what kind of design is needed when looking back on the present from that perspective.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
TK : Being able to create things that change the world through design is a positive aspect that cannot be changed by any profession. On the other hand, the negative aspect is that it is a difficult occupation to refuse when the client asks for a design even if it is not necessary to make it. Sometimes it may be necessary to decline the request from client.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
TK : My design has two golden rules: "design what I really want" and "design with a sustainable perspective". Most of the things I want already exist in the world, so I don't try to design them. On the other hand, I don't want to design new things that I don't really want. So I ask myself, "Do I really want it?" is the driving force behind my design. I also consider whether the design is needed by others. If it is just for me to use now, a mock-up is sufficient, but if it is going to be used for a long time by others, I think it is my responsibility as a designer to design from a sustainable perspective while keeping a long-term perspective in mind.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
TK : Of course designers need technical skills, but I think it is fundamentally important for them to have the insight to discover social problems and the communication skills to deeply understand the intentions of users. Considering the fact that the design field is broadening and that the products designed have a great impact on the future, I believe that designers have a great social responsibility. In such an era, I believe the above two skills are very important.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
TK : There are various tools I use when designing. The tools will change depending on what stage the design is at. I usually use Mac Book, pen tools, sketchbooks, pencils, and the internet and design books for research at the concept stage. I sometimes buy books related to the project from Amazon. At this stage, we don't use many design applications. Once you've decided on a concept, I usually use a MacBook and Adobe Creative Cloud during the design phase. At this stage, I often make mockups. When making a small three-dimensional model, I usually make an accurately scaled model.
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
TK : This is a difficult question. I don't think I can manage the time because I am always absorbed in the design work. Sometimes I spend less time sleeping and eating, and I'm absorbed in it. However, I always pay attention to my physical condition in order to think of a good design, so it can be said that physical condition management eventually leads to time management.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
TK : It takes about a year to complete one work. Approximately 3 months at the concept development stage, next 3 months at the basic design stage where materials and manufacturing methods are examined and craftsmen are selected, and then 3 months at the implementation design stage where all details are fixed with collaborating with the craftsmen, and 3 months at the mockup production stage. The above is a normal schedule for me.
DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
TK : The most frequently asked question is, "What kind of project are you doing now?" I have some projects in progress all the time, so I would like to introduce some projects that may be of interest to the questioner. I sometimes ask him the thought about my ideas of the new project conversely.
DI: What was your most important job experience?
TK : The experience of exhibiting Consentable /WT for the first time in 2014 at an overseas exhibition (@Milan Design Week) was very important. Of course, I was inspired by the reactions of various people to my design, but especially the conversation with the various very unique and talented designers from the world gave me a great inspiration and joy. And the winning the A' Design Awards have been equally wonderful experiences
DI: Who are some of your clients?
TK : My client is a user who is interested in Consentable. Due to the characteristics of "digital life furniture", designers and engineers who often use PCs have purchased it. In these days, working from home is more commonplace, so I would be more than happy if I could get more people interested in it to provide them comfortable environments.
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
TK : I like designing in areas where no one has touched it. Consentable focused on the development of "digital life furniture" because I thought that no designer was professionally working on this contemporary theme. The reason I like this kind of design is that when I'm designing, I feel like I'm running through the wilderness. There are few examples, so I can have the freedom to the design and focus on my own design.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
TK : The Swing Ao, which received the Silver award last year, has attracted the interest of many people because of its new concept of a chair that promotes physical activation while sitting, in a world where Work From Home has become the norm. What I want to do next is to redesign it better so that it can be offered to users at a reasonable price in order to reach many people.
DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
TK : I usually work by myself in the design development stage. Once I decided next stage, I will organize a team by necessary members at the stage of production.
DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
TK : Next, I'm thinking of designing DIY furniture. I think that the importance of DIY is increasing as digital manufacturing is becoming more common, so I think this is a very interesting theme.
DI: How can people contact you?
TK : Contact information is below. Please feel free to contact us. email: email@example.com website: https://www.consentable.com Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CONSENTABLE Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/consentable/
DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
TK : I think I've talked about everything I want to convey. Thank you very much for hearing.I was able to organize my own way of thinking on my design again in answering this interview.