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Naoto Fukasawa: Intuition in Design

Naoto Fukasawa visually captures these values and draws exact outlines of them.
Naoto Fukasawa visually captures these values and draws exact outlines of them.

Designing shape is giving form to values that people tacitly share and wish for. Naoto Fukasawa visually captures these values and draws exact outlines of them. His ability to visualize such unseen outlines is not easily stated or described; nonetheless, people are instantly enticed with his ability when they experience his intuitive design. Respected internationally, Fukasawa approaches essential values through expressions of travel beyond borders and domains. He observes and finds hints in subconscious behavior of people and shares these thoughts through his renowned workshops titled “Without Thought”.

Naoto Fukasawa believes that design should be intuitive, seamlessly engaging those who experience it. As one of Japan’s most influential and pioneer designers, 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 an extension of the human experience, and the story of an object’s creation 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 started 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, round 12-inch humidifier marked by a center depression.

His designs are characterized 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.

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 exact stack of paper it represents. Playing with our perceptions, 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 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.

In 2010, Luminaire welcomed Fukasawa to its Chicago showroom for a thought provoking lecture and a reception during NeoCon 2010. This time around, it gives us great pleasure to welcome Naoto Fukasawa again in Miami on October 24th for a book signing ceremony and retrospective look at his iconic designs for B&B Italia, Maruni, Magis, Brix throughout the years and his future aspirations. Whether a long-time design enthusiast or only experiencing the transformative power of great design for the first time, everyone is encouraged to continue to learn more about Naoto Fukasawa, his designs and personal quests.

October 2014