Who are you?
My name is Yuma Kano, and I am a freelance product designer based in Tokyo. I was born in Tochigi in 1988, became an assistant of the artist Yasuhiro Suzuki after graduating from Tokyo Zokei University. In spring of 2012 I opened my own design office, studio yumakano. The studio — located in a shipyard established in the Edo era — questions what daily life, emotion, and function really are through different interior, architecture, art and installation designs with a focus on product design.
My design concept is to show the future just a half-step ahead by giving a new inspiration and meaning to a everyday events in the regular daily life. Eliciting a personal emotion is an important of design.
I became assistant of an artist after graduating from college where I studied interior design. Most of my college friends entered companies. They did not choose the way that I have chosen. I launched my design office at 23 after 1-year experience as assistant.
At the beginning, I went through a rough financial spell, mainly because I did not have any clients. But looking back now, this experience was very important for me. Obviously, the designer must fulfil client’s request. But I was able to make thing just following my curiosity and had a lot of time to reflect on myself.
Japan x Design
In my opinion, Japanese design does not speak loudly, or it`s perhaps I should say ‘silent’. It`s presence seems very natural as if it has been there for a long time. We can find many products with functionality in Japanese design, but rarely find the one with experimental design.
This situation results from the Japanese market where less people with openness to experimental design exist.
Ever since I was a child, my favorite color was red. However I recently realized that my favorite color had become yellow. I still don’t know why this sort of change happened to me, but there should be mentally something important behind that.
I have been very influenced by M.C. Escher and Mr. Shigeo Fukuda, who is a famous graphic designer and also known as the ‘Japanese Escher’. I love the wonderful feeling when looking at their works. Actually, I am half excited and half worried.
I am trying to create work that makes people feel like what I am feeling when looking at Escher’s work.
What are you thinking about?
Whereas the leading-edge technology is producing new techniques and opportunities, there are vanishing technologies behind it. Through this situation, many craftsmen and highly qualified techniques are vanishing from the world. I had a sense of crisis about that and have been thinking what design can help to improve and better this situation.
For instance, the filament bulb is disappearing with increasing use of LED bulbs. Thus, I will launch a project to hand down the technology of producing light bulbs.
To hand down vanishing technology is one of the important missions of design although I celebrate new technology.
Literally, I have been working and living in a shipyard in Kawasaki city, just close to Tokyo. The reason why I have chosen this place as my residence and office is existence of both ample equipment and reliable professional shipyard engineers.
For example when making a prototype. Normally, prototyping should be outsourced to a manufactory, but I don’t. I am not only able to ask shipyard engineers about efficient processes of making a prototype, but also to try this process like plating, welding, and painting hands on.
In addition, Kawasaki city is one of the best known industrial areas in Japan. So, both mentally and physically I have worked in an atmosphere of making things.
As I mentioned above, there are plenty of tools and equipment in my atelier. Thus, I have been trying to use my hands and to think through my hands, not just thinking through my mind or using a computer.
I am a little skeptical about the speed of production at the present rate although I celebrate leading-edge technology and design. Due to the inordinate rate of output, current society is flooded with material and information, which causes poor judgment of the essential; of what is good or bad.
Perhaps, we might need to adjust speed and volume of production.
This is a collaborative project with Komuro Seisakusho, a screw factory in East Osaka, Japan. Ever since its invention, the screw hasn’t changed its style and function. Actually it’s never needed to change at all. Screws are used everywhere but are easily overlooked. This time, I focused on them.
Not only can it be used as a tool, but by adding the joy of discovery, the concept of the design is the enjoyment of sharing the joy of discovering small surprises with others. Imagine the smile on the face of a person when they discover this screw, and then imagine a place where someone would use it.
The screw is more than just an ordinary screw; it is a product that can bring joy. To move people’s emotion is another important trait of the simple screw. I was trying to give expression and emotion to the ordinary screw, which could be an irony to the mass-produced goods like screws. Smiley is an universal icon that could make people delightful.
on the road
The middle of the road; although it is a common sight around us, we are hardly ever allowed to be in it. You can’t walk or run across a street busy with cars, and of course you can’t just stand or sit down. But I’m sure everyone has thought: “if I had enough courage, just once I’d like to lie down in the middle of the street.”
This picnic sheet will make your dream come true. Why don’t you just lie sprawled out in the middle of the road?
For 3-4 people, the size of two lanes would be enough and for people more than five, an intersection might be the suitable size. Please connect these seamless sheets to make your own road longer and wider.
This is a design for an original display box for shoes. The theme of the design is based on work shoes worn by craftsman such as surveyors, plasterers and mechanics. This is not just a shoebox; it is designed as if you are carrying around a piece of the wall from the workroom so it also functions as toolbox. And of course, shoes are important tools as well.
This project is a renovation plan for a room in a relatively new home built 10 years ago. I received a request to turn a more-or-less “normal” Japanese-style room into an open room, like a library, where friends and neighbors can be invited for workshops or other events.
The goal was to create a room that could be freely used as a Japanese-style or Western-style room, while protecting the overall atmosphere of the original space. The room was not recreated into something completely different, but instead the history of the house and the memories of the family that lived there have been layered into the new design.
This is an idea for an individual tabletop air freshener. You can put an aroma candle in the house-shaped holder and adjust the strength of the scent by opening/closing the door and windows. When you don’t want the scent to spread, you can shut the openings, but if you leave them open it will continue to release the fragrance like a conventional air freshener.
Additionally, the two openings, a door and a window, allow fresh air to flow in and spread the fragrance. Freshen by letting in air is the basic idea of design.
Light bulb Vase
These days, LED bulbs are replacing incandescent light bulbs. In November 2007, the Ministry of the Environment of Japan requested that electronics manufacturers no longer produce or sell incandescent light bulbs as they consume large amounts of electricity.
It is reasonable to consider the environment when manufacturing, but at the same time, many designs—such as the incandescent light bulb—might disappear for the sake of environmental protection. The concept of this design comes from the desire to save the vanishing designs in a new and different way.
By collecting the used bulbs and making a small hole in them, it is possible to bring the vanishing design back to life. The filament, which used to be an important part of the bulb, now has another big role — supporting the flower.
Between the space
An installation with twenty-one doors, all of which were once used by somebody in a house somewhere.
We always go through a door to go anywhere, whether we are going outside or bedroom. In other words, doors take us anywhere. The door doesn’t tell us what awaits us on the other side or where it will lead us: opening the door is four-dimensional act. This is an installation where people can experience opening the door to a never-ending cycle of time.
The door might have a hidden power: it connects spaces and takes us anywhere.
A chair shaped hose. A hose shaped chair. They are in a strange state of existence, as if they are mimicking each other. Two 25 meter-long hoses are used for the chair and the surrounding design. It could be described as a hose or a chair, its ambiguity gives us a reason to rethink the relationship between function and shape.
Of course, you can actually sit on this installation.
〒210-0861 神奈川県川崎市川崎区小島町 9-1 根本造船所２F
Kanagawa Prefecture, Kawasaki, Kawasaki Ward, Kojimacho, 9-1
Nemoto Shipyard 2F
A big arigatou-gozaimasu to Yuma Kano for the interview.
We wish him all the best for his projects in the future!