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Naoto Fukasawa

Naoto Fukasawa believes that design should be intuitive, seamlessly engaging those who experience it. As one of Japan’s most influential designers, he is a true pioneer; it comes as no surprise that people respond emotionally to Fukasawa’s designs, which are also comfortable and easy to use. His designs are both functionally and conceptually sound – a historically difficult balance to achieve.

Graduating from Tama Art University in 1980, Fukasawa likes to make objects that are, as he describes, ‘close to the body.’ Design should be a part of the human experience, and the story of how an object came to be is as important to him as the final design.

After spending many years as the head of IDEO’s Tokyo office, he established Naoto Fukasawa Design in 2003. That same year, he also helped start Plus Minus Zero, a brand that breathes new life into everyday objects such as doormats, calculators, and umbrellas. One of his most well known designs for the company is a humble, yet shiny, 12-inch humidifier, a round, friendly object marked by a center depression.

His work is often informed by lines and curves found in nature. Inspired by the hills around Tuscany, Fukasawa conveys a great sense of lightness to his Siena bed with simple lines and essential planes. In his Cloud sofa, he demonstrates once again a clear and focused approach to minimalism by using a gentle curvature in both the seat edges and the backrest. Both the Cloud and the Siena were made for B+B Italia. His simple yet formidable series of limited edition chairs was recently on view at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany as part of ‘Vitra Editions,’ the new collection of 15 limited-edition objects commissioned by the Swiss furniture company.

The International Furniture Fair in Cologne in January 2007 beheld Fukasawa’s dream of the ideal home. Along with Zaha Hadid, Fukasawa was invited to share his thoughts on the home of the future. His seemingly austere installation provided a refreshing simplification of daily life. By removing the clutter of modern life to leave us with only that which we really need — so well designed, both beautifully and functionally – he imagined a future where we interact with our environment in a more poetic and personal way.

In 2008, Fukasawa participated in the PaperLove exhibition and auction at Luminaire to help raise funds for cancer research. Rarely do we think about how standard-sized paper arrives to our offices and our stores wrapped in bundles of 50 or 100. However, when one notices the A4 wrapping, one immediately imagines that when opened, they will naturally find the expect stack of paper it represents. Playing with our expectations, Fukasawa took the other shell of A4 wrapping, and rather than concealing paper, his wrapping became a luminescent cocoon for a floor or table light, as beautiful as it dismantles our everyday assumptions.

Fukasawa has received more than 40 international awards, and his work is a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is currently a professor at Musashino Art University and a visiting lecturer at Tama Art University.