Today we present an interview with excellent designer, whose career started with interior design to later expand to product design, graphic design and research projects. In his work Arihiro Miyake is always looking for the immortal aesthetics upon the innovative and technical challenges.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a kind of twisted, selfish, difficult person. In a way, all designer kind of people want to be different from others, so. . . : )
And I am always thinking what to do, which also means thinking of what not to do in another word. However, I am not living so strictly on myself . . . my goal is to become nasty, lazy old man, but a good designer!
What’s your favourite part of the design process?
Sparks of welding, smell of oily steel, sound of machine, smell of freshly cut wood and smell of product freshly painted. During my school time, in Japan and in Finland, I went to workshops to build models before making drawings. I am not educated as craftsman, but playing real materials and seeing the object in real life (real scale) was the most exciting part of thinking design for me.
Tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?
Mmm. . .I do not know. . . I just like thinking new, thinking of the future. . . Perhaps, in my childhood, my parents were not so wealthy that can provide fun for kid, like taking me to the amusement park on weekend, buying me a lot of toys or going for family trip on holidays. Instead, I had to find fun by myself. Catching fish and insects in the river and mountain. Making the bow out of bamboo cut from mountain. Stealing fruit from farmers land. Trying to reach as far as possible by bicycle in one day. . . so on.
Where do you get inspiration?
Everything. . .Observation and thinking on them.
What was the movie or book that impressed you the most?
Cannot tell just one, but if I have a hobby, besides making things, it is watching movies. I watch something almost ever day, and if I like it I watch it several times. My favourite directors are, for example, Luc Besson (many of his earlier movies), Hayao Miyazaki (animations), Krzysztof Kieślowski, Partrice Leconte.
Can you describe your style, how has that style developed over the years?
I would like to describe my work in a few words which I keep in my mind all the time.
1. Al dente of course, this is Italian word, as you know, the straight translation is “At the teeth”. When I use this word for design, I mean the design which is not over cooked, which is at right moment. The design which has a space for the users, how to use it and where to use it. In another word, I want my design to complete on the hand of user, like Pasta should be right moment to eat on the table, not at the kitchen. Each user can find the way to live with it. I could explain it all with the word “Playfullness”, which I do not mean toy or puppets like fun. But something, users can also put thier mind in it in simple manner. For example, “Miyake” Lamp (Carat in former name). I like Japanese and Italian food most!. . ., because both of the food appreciate the original materials in the way that you always know what you are eating. I prefer to eat fresh shurimp in the shurimp shape rather than eating it as the pudding shape patè . . . I have the similar preferable in design as well.
Although you may know it, I’ll describe it a bit. This is the English word which had created in the 18th century by a British author. And I heard no other language has a word of the same meaning. “Serendipity” means the ability or talent of discovering the valuable or interesting matter accidentally while looking for something else. I like this word very much, because the word does not only point the fact of discovery itself, but also the ability of leading yourself to the discovery. I think the word is more common among the scientists, because many of great discoveries and inventions had been made unintended. But I believe this word works perfectly for designing work as well. Something like, go to the mountain to pick up the mushrooms, and find the truffle by finding the track of a wild-pig digging holes. . . Many of my designs are born apart from an original purpose of thinking. I am always trying to keep my mind open and flexible . . . trying to not rule myself by own knowledge, or judge the matters only with my own moral. . . for not missing unexpected interests. Serendipity . . . I keep reminding it to myself.
3. A way to the future
For me, only way to justify the further production, materialization, consumption and so on is to seek the future. I would like to create something which leads us to tomorrow, which makes us dream about tomorrow’s life. I believe design is very good language to realize it. Of course, it is not only about form, but also functionality, usability, material, technology and sustainability issue concerning the future. There is one my favourite words (I forgot who said that. . .) when Apollo has landed on the moon, someone said “American made it not because they worked hard and found the way, but because they decided to go there in the beginning” or “all the great inventions in our world had started as one’s ideal and ended as everyone’s reality”. This one is said by Austrian politician who first had the concept of EU. Designing is not exactly the invention, more like culture and living activity itself which human has been doing for long long time since we start use stone as tools. But the idea of using stone as help of hand brought us to next step of civilization. Therefore, even today, I believe what I do or designers do is the continuation of it. The attempt of creating better, safer, more comfortable and more intriguing future.
So for me, design is “a way”, a way to the future!
For you what makes a product rare?
Serious challenge of designer and producer.
Regarding the future, are you afraid of something?
No. I am not afraid of anything. We have been always creating the future with serious concerns of the time.
**Arihiro Miyake – Graduated from Kobe Design University, Japan in 1999 and Master degree in furniture and spatial design at Aalto University, Finland in 2002. After he had worked at a few design studios in Helsinki and Milan, in 2004, he established own design studio “Studio Arihiro Miyake” in Helsinki, Finland. Covering multiple fields including interiors, products, lighting and research, the studio has worked with a number of high end clients. Miyake’s unique approach to design has lead to his products being produced by internationally renowned company Moooi, and being included in the permanent collection at the Design Museum Helsinki.
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