designer Oki Sato (left) and manga artist Yusei Matsui (right)

“I love manga,” exclaimed Oki Sato, the head of design firm Nendo, who relies on Japanese comics to keep himself entertained on long flights as he travels all over the world meeting clients. Sato went on to explain that design and manga actually have a lot in common: the overly-extravagant is difficult to relate to. Instead, the ordinary, everyday is much easier to become attached to.

Last year a TV program paired him and manga artist Yusei Matsui, known for his hit manga Assassination Classroom, together for a series of talks.

Sato and Matsui, who are both close in age – in their late 30s – and are accomplished in their respective fields, hit it off during their talks. They took turns visiting each others offices and learning how the other worked. Matsui explained how he comes up with an idea and then works backwards, thinking up story lines and plots that would enable his original idea. Sato described himself as an air conditioning filter that’s constantly letting air pass through while also collecting all sorts of dust and debris that he later sifts through. The two agreed that it was the way they took advantage of their weaknesses that led them to success.

The pair later published their exchanges as a book, but the original episode is available above (in Japanese only). Sato names Fujiko Fumio’s Doraemon as an early design influence. And in creating his 50 manga chairs for Friedman Benda gallery in New York this year, the designer drew on many manga styles.


the desk that Sato designed for Matsui has multiple configurations


an “adjustable shelf system”,as used in stores


At the end of their interactions the two exchanged gifts. But the friendship didn’t end there. Sato has now created an entirely new desk “to meet the needs of a professional cartoonist who spends countless hours working laboriously at his desk.” The cartoonist desk was produced at the request of Matsui and the final design reflects the many intricacies involved in creating manga: partitions that allow for both deep focus but also collaboration, an adjustable shelf system, and a magnetic dust tray that prevents pools of eraser dust from accumulating under the desk.


monitors can be affixed to the partition, freeing more space on the desk



A magnetic “eraser dust tray” can be attached on the slit on the far side of the desk. So, it is easy to remove the tray discard the dust and replace it.



a pen holder that Sato made for Matsui, based on the alien protagonist in his manga


the alien protagonist sits on a prototype of one of Sato’s manga chairs