To Japanese industrial designer Motomi Kawakami, design is a state of mind. The designer’s happiness and attitude are more important than the product itself.
“Mass production produces a cold and contrived perfection. People are yearning for the maker’s soul in an object,” said Kawakami in Japanese.
Design today has focused on rationalism, production efficiency and materialism. In an industrialized country like Japan, there’s been a shift towards sustainability and organic design that should make one feel connected to nature.
Kawakami believes in a holistic approach to design in which the product is not only functional but also elicits happiness in the individual and benefits the community.
When he was designing in his youth, Kawakami was driven by aesthetics, convenience and technicalities. “That is not design,” he said.
Good design, he pointed out, must contribute to society. The product should highlight values, such as eco-awareness and community welfare, rather than industrial systems.
He urged young designers to expand their perspective, advocating the use of natural resources and raw materials merged with modern production techniques, to create new designs.
When he was guest speaker at the recent Manila FAME, Kawakami was impressed with the abundance of natural resources in the Philippines and how local designers have used them to make home accessories.
“Younger Japanese designers could learn from Filipinos. The Japanese tend to get bogged down with concepts and conventions—how the design should be. Filipinos follow their heart,” he said.