Interview: Oki Sato – Nendo
by Gimena / September 4, 2006

Our Inspiration series of interviews continues. We asked Oki Sato, aka Nendo, about inspiration. He answered. Minimally. GP

N702iS mobile phone handset design for NTT DoCoMo and NEC. "We wanted a product that felt accessible and close to home, so we used the concept of a drinking glass, a form familiar to the hand. The indicator lights that signal an incoming call or text message move like bubbles, representing both bubbles in a drink and the way that information transmits from inside to outside.".

When did you decide to become a designer?

How did you realize, at 17, that it was design what you wanted to do for a living?
It started when I entered the Waseda University for my architecture major, at 17, but I didn’t decide my future at the time. When I was 24, just after graduating from Waseda University, that I went to visit Milan’s Salone del Mobile as a tourist, then I decided to be a designer.

Where do you do most of your design work?
At Nendo’s office.

Would you say you only design while being at the office or is it rather an activity that can surprise you off limits?
Basically I get ideas outside the office, then I give shape to my designs at office.

Where, or from what, do you get inspiration for your work?
Everyday life.

Are there any special conditions/things in life that triggers most your creativity?
No. Everyday life is the most important font of inspiration for my creativity.

Alice's Tea Party, Nendo designed cafe based on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland.

Are there any particular places where you go hunting for inspiration when you need it?

What is your favorite part of the design process and why?
Mistakes, getting closer to completion.

Do you confront your ideas when you are in the process of designing? And in that case, who do you share your thoughts with, who do you ask for opinions and critics?
No. Basically I do all the design myself. But sometimes I crystallize my idea with the help of my staff.

How would you label/categorize your work?

Do you have a signature style? If yes, what are the hallmarks of your style?

Yuki, a screen made of simple snowflake(=yuki) shaped plastic pieces for Cappellini. It is formed by piling pieces up as if it were snow, making it easy to change its size.

Who are your favorite designers and/or architects?
Shiro Kuramata, Sori Yanagi.

What item (PC, pen, etc) can you not do without when you are designing?

What's next?
Mobile phone, package for a chewing gum.


Full name: Nendo
Location: Tokyo
Size of team: Big enough
In business since: 2002
Claim to fame projects: chab-table for De Padova
Spare time: designing

Favorite website(s):
What music is on your iPod or radio? Japanese old pops
Your favorite magazine(s): Casa Brutus, Axis.
Last or current book you are reading: Realising Design by Noriko Kawakami
Last movie you saw: YURERU

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