japanese art, design and culture

Satoshi Itasaka on the importance of concept-driven product design

Balloon Bench (photos by Ikunori Yamamoto | click to enlarge)

Satoshi Itasaka is a product and furniture designer. Along with his partner Takuto Usami, Itasaka operates under the studio name H220430, which stands for Heisei 22 (2010) April, 30, the official start date of his new venture. He got his humble beginnings in the more formal field of architecture working for Kidosaki Architects.

As is apparent by their most iconic work, Balloon Bench, a whimsical and fairytale-like piece that captures the hearts of fans of both The Red Balloon and the movie UP, their work lacks both clear functionality and marketability. Yet in a society built upon mass production, mass consumption and the subsequent disposal of objects that no longer provide immediate gratification, there is something incredibly admirable in the work of H220430 and their ability to embed a concept into product design.

Schwarzwald Stool

Schwarzwald Stool (detail)

Schwarzwald Stool
The Schwarzwald Stool was rendered the way it is by exposing it to levels of acidity found in acid rain. The stool is named after the Schwarzwald region in Germany where, in the 1960s, highly concentrated acid rain wiped out roughly 60% of the forests. Instead of falling to the ground, the trees gradually lost leaves and died a slow death. The stool itself is fully functional as it has a sealant that prevents further rusting and protects your clothes from rust stains.

Balloon Bench

Balloon Bench (detail)

Balloon Bench
The Balloon Bench was inspired by of the 1953 French film Le Ballon Rouge. Specifically, the final scene where the little boy grabs onto the bunch of balloons and flies away. The bench was intended to put a smile on the face of anyone who interacted with it, much in the same way the movie but a smile on the designer’s face. Mission accomplished!
(In case you were wondering, the illusion is created by sculptural balloons that are actually mounted to a ceiling. You can purchase the piece through gallery SOMEWHERE)

Mushroom Lamp

Mushroom Lamp
One of Itasaka’s most recent projects (and consequently available for purchase later this fall) is the sometimes-mushroom, sometimes-cloud shaped lamp that was designed in response to a complacency towards nuclear weapons. Despite 66 long years since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, globally we stockpile 23,000 nuclear warheads; enough to annihilate the human race… and then annihilate it again…and again…and again…and again..and again.

With Mushroom Lamp, and in all his designs, Itasaka attempts to embed his work with relevant messages – something he calls “secondary communication.” In other words, a subtle message that is not always obvious but was a significant part of the design process. Through his designs Itasaka hopes to evoke a certain consciousness that would push our conceptual thinking into a new stage of dialogue.

Source: Hitspaper interview | h220430 website

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