a DESIGNER by DESIGN #02

FEATURE

“Nothing new happens
unless the designer is grounded
in his own decisions.”

The installation Jellyfish opened in Milan in 2017. Silicon vases float in a water cistern. It is a mysterious piece that reverses the relationship between a vase and water.
© Takumi Ota

Nendo’s, as well as Japanese, designs are simple and minimal. These expressions offer a sophisticated and somehow mysterious impression, but Sato says his goal is different.

“I’m good at compressing a lot of complex information into bite-sized pieces. This compact culture is the Japanese hobbyhorse. It shares similarities with the 31-syllable poetry of tanka or the 17-syllable poetry of haiku, which graphically paint a visual of the seasons with limited words.
In fact, simplicity and minimalism offer space for people to imagine and discover context. It’s an invitation to fill in the blanks.”

Sometimes when people try to convert traditional Japanese craftsmanship to something modern, this Japanese sense is lost. He also added that it could
narrow one’s sense of appreciation by exaggerating the spatial sense and exoticism.

“I believe that simplicity and minimalism engender a friendly and familiar form. It’s an independent path that can seem overwhelming at times, but it also leads to instantaneous explosions of power with lasting results. It slowly diffuses onto the next generation with a feeling of nostalgia, and when another designer sees it, they’re inspired by a new way to perceive the world.”

Interacting on the world stage hones Sato’s logical thinking skills.

“In Europe and the U.S., the creative director sits at the top, so it’s important when an outside designer can communicate a brand from an unusual and fresh perspective. On the other hand, Japanese companies focus on marketing, requiring an outside designer who acts as creative director and oversees the brand while dedicated to the practice of design.”

In the United States, galleries and museums usually commission work, which requires a reinterpretation of the entire concept of tradition and history while working with established brands such as Christofle, Baccarat, and Sèvres in Europe. Then the creative director must maintain a dialogue with the business manager to deliver a company message that changes the way companies in Japan think. Every country has different systems.

“Nonetheless, I travel all over the world every month, so I have the opportunity to see things from different points of view that influence the way I work.”

Sato focuses on how to distance himself from his clients so he can look back on the importance of the design and to maintain the calm, neutral judgment of a third party.

“It’s dangerous to have camaraderie from the beginning. Of course, there’s no need to be hostile, but too much empathy can cloud one’s judgment. Nothing new happens unless the designer is grounded in his own decisions.”

To ground himself, Sato wears the same brand of clothing, lunches at the same soba noodle shop, and takes his coffee from the same café every day.

“I recognize I live simply for a 40-yearold man, but this principle guides me and contributes to my designs. When I come across something new, I see how it affects my life and my schedule. I can devote myself to each project even when I have many. This fundamental philosophy keeps me driving forward.”

Sato has little interest in being in the news when he compares it to presenting new and engaging design. Challenging projects seem to motivate him.

“To solve some needs that rose around me, I had to work in staffing and trade as a student, but I still feel that I’m solving new needs that come up. The process of design is to solve problems with reasonable and functional solutions. Sometimes we have to think of something completely new because scheduling and budget don’t work, forcing us to innovate. Imagine I told you that you were losing a battle. That would force you to find a way to take the next step and move on.”

One can’t work in design alone. There will always be clients, so a positive attitude inspires and creates synergy.
“Clients and end users judge with their senses, affecting the project as it moves forward. This truth is important in design, and it’s my biggest motivation.”

Text: Hisashi Ikai
Photography: Shuya Nakano
Hair: Mahiro

© Takumi Ota

The installation Jellyfish opened in Milan in 2017. Silicon vases float in a water cistern. It is a mysterious piece that reverses the relationship between a vase and water.
© Akihiro Yoshida

© Shuya Nakano

© Takumi Ota

The installation Jellyfish opened in Milan in 2017. Silicon vases float in a water cistern. It is a mysterious piece that reverses the relationship between a vase and water.
© Akihiro Yoshida

© Shuya Nakano

アセット 1