By Kenza van Lerberghe for IROCO Design.
There are a few universally accepted principles of good design: balance, scale, contrast, unity, narrative. We would add another: Japan.
Super Potato is an international acclaimed design firm established by Takashi Sugimoto in 1973. He was first involved with designs for bars, tearooms, and boutiques.
His main drive is to lead the design field with design celebrating Japanese tradition and geography as a method to express thoughts whilst maintaining originality - an objective he has successfully achieved .
His designs show the restructuring of the visual and physical attributes of materials found in demolished old Japanese architecture and tearooms – iron, timber, natural stone, and bricks which he incorporates into his work thus enhancing the beauty of the spaces.
A few years ago, Super Potato renovated the Mezza9 Restaurant at the Grand Hyatt in Singapore, which then became a global reference. Super Potato went on to be contracted on large scale projects by the Hyatt, Shangri-La and MGM groups in India, China, USA, etc.
Born in Toronto and raised in Tokyo, Oki Sato is known for marrying the harmony and simplicity of Japanese design with an uncharacteristic irreverence. His works have been collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and past projects have included a lacquered version of the ubiquitous Cup Noodles container and a collection of knit-covered Maplewood furniture inspired by Winnie the Pooh.
Just last year, Sato unveiled 56 new products and interiors with Nendo, the company he established in 2005. Amongst them were bottles for a coffee-flavored beer, the interiors of a department store and a champagne cooler inspired by traditional Japanese spa buckets made of bamboo.
Oki draws his inspiration from the small things that are hidden, things that people care little about or things that have been forgotten. Ironically it is those small details that affect people’s emotions in a way which becomes suddenly popular when supported by good design with new techniques and materials.
Shin Azumi, born in Kobe in 1965, is a London based Japanese designer who runs his own design studio, called ‘a studio’. He works with a variety of clients including Lapalma, Magis, Desalto, Muji, Authentics, and Guzzini on consumer products, furniture, lighting, electronics, audio equipment and space design for shops, restaurants and, exhibitions,.
Shin Azumi and his works have been published and globally acclaimed - they have also been acquired for the permanent collections of many museums such as the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK), the Stedelijk Museum (Holland), the Crafts Council (UK), the Die Neue Sammlung (Germany) andthe Museum fur Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt (Germany).
Observation is always the key to the development of his designs; after the distillation of ideas, he aims to provide an end result which is often purified as a simple solution.