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Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Max Schorr from GOOD magazine couldn’t help squeezing in one more meeting during our recent program on Design and Sustainability in Tokyo. He’s interested in space and how organizations use it to bring communities together. Fortunately for us, Masaaki Ikeda, the founder, was able to show us around the remarkable space that is Eco Plaza.

Mariko, Masaaki Ikeda, Max Schorr and Casey Caplowe (L to R)

Mariko, Masaaki Ikeda, Max Schorr and Casey Caplowe (L to R)

Inside EcoPlaza

Inside Eco Plaza

Sitting on a Naoto Fukasawa designed bench

Sitting on a Naoto Fukasawa designed bench

"more trees" benches are made from sustainability grown trees

"more trees" benches are made from sustainability grown trees

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Meeting at Muji

Meeting at Muji

Muji has started selling houses (Muji no Ie). The houses, which retail from 13 million yen and up depending on size, are designed by Kazuhiko Namba, famous for his “house of boxes”. Those curious to see the houses can go to Muji’s Yurakucho store, which carries all 7,500 of Muji’s products, including the “no-brand” houses. Muji is interested in sustainability.

Satoshi Yasui from Muji

Satoshi Yasui from Muji

“Our houses are made of wood and designed to last 100 years,” Mr. Satoshi Yasui, head of design planning at Muji, said. So far Muji has received orders for 200 of the houses, according to Ms. Maki Kobayashi, architect in charge of Muji no Ie. (Daniel Rosenblum)

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We met with Mr. Nao Suzuki, editor of greenz.jp. greenz.jp, a self-described media activism, sustainability think tank, visionary’s network , focuses on creative activism, green business, global affairs and sustainable community, both in Japan and worldwide.

greenz1

greenz.jp staff

The setting was the Lounge greenz, a laid-back loft-like restaurant bar with plenty of exposed wood and potted plants (and, ironically, a cigarette vending machine tucked away in one corner).

Mr. Suzuki was joined by Ms. Hiromi Matsubara, greenz.jp’s global relation’s manager and creative director Yoshihiro Kanematsu.

Over a lunch of rice, red beans and fish, Max, Casey and Valerie immediately connected the folks from greenz.jp.

greenlunch

Lunch!

“So far it’s fantastic,” Max said, commenting on his experience in Tokyo so far. “This last meeting we just did (with greenz.jp) was incredibly inspiring. It was great to see a parallel movement with regard to what we’re working for in the United States.”

Later on the bus on our way to meet Mr. Satoshi Yasui, head of design planning at Muji, Casey summed up his experience thusly: “It’s been really enjoyable to go around and meet and experience all these different people that have something in come with us. I’m starting to understand how this movement is interconnected and growing and coming to life.”

Valerie stressed the importance of face-to-face meetings.

“No matter how global you conceive of your self, there’s nothing like having conversations on terra firma in a real space to make you understand the context of your actions,” she said. (Daniel Rosenblum)

Like-minded people from US and Japan

Like-minded people from US and Japan

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Today marks the debut of Honda’s newest hybrid car, the Insight. Insight designer Takashi Nakura says the car was designed to be green and fun to drive.

“Designers at Honda think about not only design but the entire lifecycle of the car all the way through to sales and the end user,” Nakura says.

Honda’s “green machine” is not only sleek and cool looking but gets fuel economy of 30 kilometers to the liter, has 85 percent recycleability of parts and components, and 95 pct recovery of reusable materials.

And what is the most fun element of the green machine?

There are many, Nakura says.

Insight by Honda

Insight by Honda

“We have a game like feeling to this car. With our eco-assist system you play with the fuel efficiency of the car,” he says.

The car also monitors your driving ability with an onboard coaching system, helping drivers drive in an ecologically friendly way, Hidetoshi Kabayama, Insights interior designer says.

Coming to Honda dealerships in the United States in April.

(Daniel Rosenblum)

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Yugo Nakamura – A Wizard, a True Star

It’s the first day of our exploration of design and sustainability in Tokyo with Max Schorr and Casey Caplowe of GOOD Magazine and Valerie Casey of IDEO.

Wending our way through Shibuya, we arrive at tha ltd, the studio of maverick web designer Yugo Nakamura. You enter through the ground floor of a non-descript apartment building to an open foyer that doubles as a meeting space.

Nakamura, dressed casually in jeans and blue sweater, is a tall man with a shock of black hair peppered with gray. Using a laptop and projector he shares some of his latest work involving interactive Internet animation, including a series of ads for Uniqlo.

Another of Nakamura’s projects is an image bookmarking website, designed as a frame. “I love making images and looking at images I love,” Nakamura says. .

“It’s interesting because it’s the first generation of digital interactive art design on the web,” says Schorr.

Asked about his approach to work, Nakamura says, “I’m interested in methodology. “We work like craftsmen. Our clients have their ideas. We want to make our products as original and fun as possible.”

Asked about collaborating with his American visitors somewhere down the road, Nakamura’s enthusiastic.

He notes that getting people to do good often starts on a small scale, from mundane social networking like dating and friend finding.

“Maybe we can come up with a mechanism for mobilizing a small part of people who that will enable the collections of goodness among people through communication,” he says.

(Daniel Rosenblum)

Yugo Nakamura at his office

Yugo Nakamura at his office

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In Japan, we have a tendency to wrap everything. We are very much into packaging. Beautiful packaging. When people get married or die, we have the custom of wrapping money in an envelope and wrap the envelope with strands of cords which are made of rice paper. We call these paper cords mizuhiki. The mizuhiki could be quite elaborate. The colors of the cords are usually different depending on the occasion. For wedddings and auspicious occasions, the cords are red, white and gold. For funerals, the cords are black and white. A visitor from Japan gave us the following mizuhiki envelope today. It is created by Yasuhiro Asano, a designer based in Tokyo. He uses traditional paper, washi and mizuihiki. It is called Alphabet mizuhiki. (Look for product number 46.) I like it very much. It is quite different from the ones that I saw growing up. Definitely a merge of Japanese tradition and the West. My coworker Betty is leaving for Japan tomorrow for the design and sustainability exchange that we are organizing. From the U.S., Max Schorr and Casey Caplowe from GOOD magazine and Valerie Casey from IDEO, the founder of the Designers Accord, are joining.  They are all speaking at the Social Design symposium to be held in Tokyo on February 8. Betty will be showing the GOOD mizushiki envelope to Max and Casey. I bet they would like it. (Fumiko)

Good mizuhiki envelope

Good mizuhiki envelope

Good mizuhiki CU

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On February 6, 2008, Keith Yamashita, Chairman of SY Partners, distributed these two handouts at the symposium For Profit, For Good: Integrating Social Value into the Bottom Line. Together, the handouts’ purpose is to help people create new value and spark innovation in the face of the status quo:

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