For the first time the BraunPrize is open to everyone – design students, professionals and design enthusiasts – expanding the accessibility of design to more people around the world. The 2012 BraunPrize will establish a new layer of national winners in several countries to further support and promote exceptional design concepts in the global arena.
Naoto Fukasawa, based in Japan, is an iconic figure in the industrial design profession. He has won over 60 design awards internationally and has authored and co-authored many books on design. He is a crucial member of the jury panel for the 2012 BraunPrize, working closely with Professor Oliver Grabes, Jane Fulton Suri, Professor Anne Bergner and Dr Dirk Freund as the jury members of the prestigious BraunPrize for 2012.
In the second of a three-part interview series with the BraunPrize judges for 2012, Curve speaks to inter-nationally renowned designer Naoto Fukasawa, about design in Japan to get direct insight into the Japanese design scene and culture, as well as the BraunPrize focus of ‘Genius design for a better everyday’.
What do you think the BraunPrize award and the new theme of ‘Genius design for a better everyday’ means to the global design community?
Braun has been a yardstick for cutting-edge design solutions in the global design community since the 1950s, when Braun introduced its renowned electric shaver. Ultimately, it has been a benchmark for design thinking.
Hence, Braun’s design competition and the product concepts that are submitted and showcased in context of this competition represent certain qualities that Braun also values in its own designs.
I think design is something that is dedicated to making our qualify of life better. The new theme of the BraunPrize fully reflects this. However, the word ‘genius’ could be associated with many different meanings.
Do you think geography influences industrial designers (for example – do Japanese designers work differently to designers based in Western countries such as the US)?
While we might be in some ways influenced by our cultural background, I don’t think that there are many differences in our working practices.
Are there aspects of the way you work, think and create that you feel are directly influenced by Japanese culture and society?
Japanese people sense aesthetics in creating absolute completeness – something that is so absolute that there are no faults in any aspects. If any Japanese cultural aspect has influenced me, this absolute completeness is certainly it.
What is your approach to the design process?
One of my thoughts here is that there is always room to make things better; nothing is ever ‘the best’. People should question themselves regarding the meaning of existence, which leads to the question of whether things need to exist or whether they are simply unnecessary.
Do you think globalisation reduces regional design influences (Eastern or Western) and approaches to design and the design process?
Yes, it certainly does, but I am not too sure whether this is a good thing or not. At the end of the day, people should keep the values of their local cultures.
How important is an exchange/dialogue between design professionals, academics and ‘ordinary people’ for the industrial design profession and society?
I believe that the most critical skill a designer must have is the sensibility to observe and capture values that are otherwise unnoticed. The talent of this specific sensibility can come with individuals even before they start a professional design career, so it is important to identify such talent and develop it towards mastery.
What message of inspiration would you like to give entrants to the 2012 BraunPrize?
Individuals who consider submitting an idea or a product concept to the BraunPrize should first and foremost consider whether the idea or product concept they have in mind is really necessary. I strongly believe that a designer should never design things simply because he or she just wants to design something – it should always be with good reason.
The 2012 BraunPrize will also be awarding excellence in Sustainable Design. Do sustainability issues influence your design process?
Yes, they do. However, a word such as ‘sustainable’ can vary in our understanding of it and it is very difficult to say which is ‘the most sustainable’ or which is ‘less sustainable’. There are simply no common criteria on which solution is more sustainable than others, particularly if products are of high complexity.
For example, products that contain modern technology need to be updated continuously to reflect the latest stage of technological development. Hence, it is very difficult to measure sustainability of such state-of-the-art products for example with previous generations.
For me personally, sustainable products are something that you can use and live with for a long time. I surely value sustainability in this meaning and in this aspect. And I would like to add that I don’t think there is anybody involved in design who is not conscious about sustainability aspects in design in some way or another.
Is sustainability influencing Japanese design in general?
Japanese people sense aesthetics in ‘absolute completeness’. Such a sensibility has been inherited in our cultural DNA for a long time. For example, I refer to “SHIKINEN SENGU of ISE Shrine” located in Southern Honshu as a good example for what I mean with ‘absolute completeness’.
At ISE Shrine, new trees are planted every 20 years and the shrine is built out of these new trees. When the shrine is rebuilt every 20 years at another location, all the original wood is disassembled and reformed as local bridges or domestic wooden products. So, natural materials do not get lost, they are simply ‘recycled’ into another purpose and usage.
Established in 1968, the BraunPrize was Germany’s first international competition to promote the work of young designers.
Braun’s commitment to this cause is highly regarded by the design world and the design-aware public.
In sponsoring the BraunPrize, Braun seeks to highlight the importance of industrial design and innovative products and to promote ideas for consumer products that help people in all aspects of their daily lives.
Curve magazine is following the progress of the 2012 BraunPrize in each print edition and online.
For further information on the BraunPrize go to www.braunprize.com