Oki Sato

Being a designer, writer, founder, lecturer – Oki Sato always believes in simplicity, story and routine. Born in Toronto, Canada, Oki Sato bagged many significant awards in his life and got involved in various activities not only in design industry but also in writing. Over the course of his career he designed many renowned projects that were examples of his choice of elegance and creativity. Recently he got huge response for his unique creative collection – ‘Kurage Table Lamp’ in this year’s iSaloni.

FAE: What is your definition of ‘Design’?


Oki Sato : These are the three key words when I define my design; simplicity, story and routine.



FAE: You have designed ‘Kurage’ in iSaloni 2015. How did you come with this unique concept?

Oki Sato : Kurage is a lighting fixture created through collaboration with Italian designer Luca Nichetto for Foscarini. It is in a process and format similar to the Japanese poetry genre known as tanka (‘short poem’), in which the top three lines generate a further two-line response, we took turns coming up with a basic concept, which we then passed over to the other person to use as inspiration, and to further expand and develop. The project was an experiment in dynamic making, in which nothing was planned in advance. Because we worked collaboratively, the design process felt like a jam session, with each participant taking turns improvising new melodies on top of a shared rhythm until a new song emerged. Inspired by the ‘paper ice cream’ in this collection, the kurage was designed by carving the ends of 12mm diameter Japanese cypress posts flat like ‘ice candy sticks’. As a material for a lampshade to suit the extremely light post was needed, we developed an original material by dyeing traditional Japanese paper made in an unusual three-dimensional process, and applied it directly to this design. The lamp’s soft light, together with the paper fibres that it accentuates when lit, is reminiscent of a floating jellyfish, bringing out a new expressive quality to the piece.




FAE: You have interest in writing. What motivated you to get into writing?

Oki Sato : Writing for me is one of the challenges. The other challenge for me is Radio, personality in Japan. I have my radio channel once in a week and I’m trying to convey the appeal of design for more than a year.
Recently, I designed TV commercials in Japan and I showed up in the commercial. I am designing commercial and I am showing up in the commercial as well. Not only as writing but I try to challenge myself as much as possible for my design.



FAE: ‘Nendo Ghost Stories’ sounds interesting, though it’s all about art design. Tell us something about your book.

Oki Sato : We are publishing 14 books. Three are all in Japanese and the others are about Nendo’s collection.




FAE: You have been awarded several significant prizes, which one do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Oki Sato : I didn’t think I would be a designer like this, or that I would be in business for thirteen years, because it is a tough business, so it’s amazing that I’m still surviving. So I really don’t think that I “achieved”.
I’m focusing on what I’m doing at the moment. I’m very happy to be able to design things and continue as a designer.




FAE: Share us something about your another unique project ‘Seven Doors’.

Oki Sato : Seven door designs to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Abe Kogyo, a manufacturer of wooden front and interior doors, partitions, fixtures and custom-made furniture. All have a basic default design, and each one has been treated with a different idea born from the various techniques and experience held by the company. These doors do not end up being just one-off products. They have opened up new possibilities for various byproducts, displaying a wide range of product development for the future.



FAE: What are the primary things you look for while designing a project?

Oki Sato : For me, the role of design is about solving things about finding new solutions. Also, it is about what kind of story you can find behind the object, whether it’s food or product. It is all the same to me.



FAE: And last what would be your piece of advice to the young designers?

Oki Sato : Enjoy designing!




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