As we noted in our round-up of Japanese design at this year’s Milano Salone, Nendo is showcasing all the products they designed in the last 1 year. Astonishingly, it’s over 100 products. That’s almost 1 new product every 3 days!
We’ve always wondered how a studio of moderate size – a latest headcount indicated 24 full-time employees – could be so productive. But in a recent interview Oki Sato, the founder and lead designer, lets us in on a few secrets that make the company spin.
First of all, there’s the mad genius that is Oki Sato himself:
I am just addicted to design. I just keep on designing every day, 24 hours a day…. the more ideas I think of, the more ideas I come up with. It is like breathing or eating or something.
When I start thinking about working on close to 400 projects, it relaxes me. It’s like a top; when it is spinning very fast it is stable and when it starts to spin slowly it starts to get wobbly.
Then, there are his 3D printers, which sound just as mad:
We have three 3D printers in our studio and they work 24 hours a day… I could not have done so many projects in one year without my 3D printers. I think it is really changing the way designers work.
Having Skype and 3D printers, I can send 3D models. I can send data to Milan and then they can print that here in Milan as well.
Before 3D printers, he was like the James Bond of design:
Before I would have my models sent to my hotels because I would spend every day in a different [hotel]. Then after I checked it I would destroy it and then I go to the next hotel and there would be another box, I would check it and then Skype [my team] and then destroy it again. It is like a stupid James Bond movie.
So what does the future hold?
We’ll be opening some stores in Tokyo as well for cosmetics… We will be launching the perfume bottle for Kenzo in the next few weeks. We are working on a big shopping centre in Bangkok at the moment.
We are designing a station with parks and cafes and theatres and stuff like that, very close to Kyoto in Japan. We are going to start working on private houses as well.
Hmmm. It sounds like Nendo is changing quite a bit.
We are shifting more into architecture. The other thing is that we are going to start working more in branding and consulting. Design consulting for a lot of big Japanese companies. It is getting very dynamic. It is not only about designing one single object – we have to design the entire company…