Connecting Society and Design Through Exploration
Looking at the World from the Point of Fashion
Have you ever looked at society through fashion?
Why, for example, did the “ko-gals” of yesteryear like to carry the bags of different high schools? Why has cosplay become popular? Why are fashion designers compelled to produce shows biannually? How does something become “popular” among so many designers? And what is the meaning of meaningless design? I consider these kinds of things from a perspective cultivated through practice. I studied abroad at RCA (Royal College of Art) in the UK, but I realized that even if you content yourself with the high fashion industry, society isn’t really any different. There’s a much more interesting story in how clothing is actually used. So, I started out on “practical research.”
The Answer is Continuing to Question
Some of the projects I’m now working on include editing Fashionista, a fashion criticism magazine; an architectural project in cooperation with the American NPO Architecture for Humanity considering how to use guardhouses with fisherman affected by the disaster in Minami Sanriku; “Design for the Mundane World”, a project with product designers considering the conditions that form “mundane” design; “Belonging & Belongings”, fieldwork that uncovers the identities of people living in cities around the world through researching their positions and behavioral patterns; and “Inclusive Design”, a project to research hospitals and care facilities and design together with patients and staff. It is a wide variety of projects, not limited to only the fashion area. What they have in common, however, is the attempt to bridge society and design.
The Inclusive Architecture project, for example, started in an attempt to discover what types of tools people with disabilities can use, and how they feel about DIY. Using tools such as saws and impact drivers with the blind, we rethought utilizing space and tools in ways they could make the most of. From this, a cardboard shelter was created that can be assembled by hand, like a jigsaw puzzle, and folded. The shelter is also an inquiry into making using urban space more independent.
In projects that deal with social problems, design can immediately provide answers that respond to the problem, but this is only a temporary solution. Not all design needs to solve problems. I believe that precisely grasping problems with an exploratory posture is very important. There are times when throwing out problems is an effective method for continuously bringing about small innovations and constructing design methodology. I think that being tolerant is an important element.
Training the Imagination with Doraemon
English is also a Tool that Connects Society and Design
I believe that research extends from the project proposal to the research, production, presentation and archive, and I demand this of students as well. Depending on what you research, you will likely need to change your presentation style, from expositions, to symposiums, to books and papers. However, I want you to prepare all of your presentations and archives in both Japanese and English. Even if the content is good, being only in Japanese limits something’s ability to be transmitted. It won’t appear in Google searches. By simply presenting all research results in two languages, the possibility of it reaching overseas dramatically increases. It may even lead to collaborations with fun people active in other countries. It would be wonderful if these movements occurred with SFC at the center.