Tag Archives: material

Siwa, paper design by Naoto Fukasawa

People have their own favorite designers. My favorite “product” designer is Naoto Fukasawa. He is well known for the designer of the fan-shaped CD player by Muji. I love his minimalist design so much that I flew for his Tokyo studio, Plus Minus Zero, to consider buying a humidifier for the stimulus of my experimental studies. Interestingly, he once worked with Samsung to design its printer.

Johnny @ Spoon & Tamago


Recently, I found his name on an unexpected place. I visited a small store called studio M nearby my house. It sells his paper (or seemingly half-paper-half-leather) products named SIWA. Soon I realized that his design philosophy seems to match low-tech products (e.g., pencil cases and hand bags) more successfully than electronic gadgets (e.g., CD players, humidifiers, and printers), differently from Dieter Rams. “Some” Minimalist design principles may work better for “some” materials or “some” products. 🙂

DML_Naoto Fukasawa 02

DML_Naoto Fukasawa 01

Studying materials for design



Materials matter. Designers use biological materials to solve trade-off problems (e.g., strong and light-weighted chair). Consumers buy transparent products. When students join the Master of Product Design and Development program in the Segal Design Institute, Northwestern University, they should take Materials Selection course in the beginning before learning about accounting, negotiation, strategy, decision making, and market research.

In the DDP, Seoul Korea, I met a section dedicated for materials. I saw the same section when I visited TCDC, Thailand Creativity and Design Center. I expect the material section enable general public to develop the knowledge about and the taste of different materials so that they think more creatively.



Studio blank, wood material for product line

20130427_Design @ Seoul (9)

About an year ago, I met two artists who opened StudioBlank and carved wood like a bowling pin. They produced a single product: wood massager called Tapi. We discussed how to increase sales and I suggested them to vary its size in order to target different segments. For example, sales representatives might be interested in small-sized Tapi because they want to give something special to their clients.

Recently, I visited StudioBlank’s newly opened shop and found that the two artists did not simply change the size of their product but developed the product line. Now, they make and sell from typical massagers to aroma diffusers, wooden pillows, and special (acupressure) massagers.

Marketers wonder how to develop/extend the product line without sacrificing the consistency among the products. They tend to focus on visual cues such as brands, logos, or colors. However, product designers can use material, the essence of the product, as a vehicle to develop a successful product line.