Detective Note

Vol. 057 – The World of “Design” from an Amateur perspective


Interviewer: Jio Yeung

Jio: I always wanted to become a video game designer, unfortunately I had to give up my dream.  I am just a beginner when it comes to design so I am looking forward to learning a lot from our talk today.  First, I would like to ask; What does design mean to you?

Mende:  If you look up the word design in the dictionary it is written: to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.  But I think it is intent or purpose.  Little fixes or twists in everyday life.  There is also design without any shape.  Taste,  touch, hearing, sight, and smell, design can activate the five senses.  Cooking is also design.   Various materials all whipped together can really make people happy. 

Jio:Ok.  Well, what do you think is good design?

Mende Something that is an upgrade in daily life and universally stimulating.  Kind of  like the door to happiness. 

Jio : Yes, I think so too.  Stimulating and makes people feel happy, these are important points.  However, design does seem to be a personal preference?

Mende Of course, there are likes and dislikes.  For example, taking a very Japanese design and introducing it to China or India, it might not go over very well.   However, there are reasons good design is liked by many people.  Maybe, culturally, health-wise, or for environmentally-friendly reasons.  Even a single pen, the shape or how it is held are all skills researched in the specialty of human engineering.

Jio: I think even in nature there is design.  I took this picture on a vacation.  The branch growing out to the side is not artificial, but the result of a real branch seeking light or what it needs in the natural world.   I think the evolution of living things is the essence of design.  How come humans walk on two legs? Or why are fish shaped like fish?  I feel like all of these things are designed in the natural world.  For example, sunlight streaming through a treetop.  The sunlight hits the leaves and is filtered to the ground.  This sensation is not man-made, but very inspiring.

Mende  Yes.  There is a phrase in Japan called the the “myriad of gods” or “eight million gods.” A phrase to represent all of the types and abundant number of gods believed to reside in the natural world.   We all have walked along a sandy beach and picked up shells or coral.  There is a natural factor or golden ratio that is the secret to beauty.  Good designers learn from the beauty of nature. 

Jio :  What are art and aesthetics?

Mende :Aesthetics is the study of making beauty science.  On the other hand, art makes people feel stimulated or inspired without using theories or logic.  This is why the perception or sence of value of art or music continually changes with the times. 

Jio:  I play video games a lot, so I really understand the progress in 3D imaging.  With technology now it is possible to recreate an entire human figure, but something seems off.  Skin can`t be that perfect, so you get the impression it is artificial. Have you seen the 3D image of Mrs. Misora Hibari.  They even recreated her voice.  

Mende Yes, 3D is still just a representation of the progress of technology.   How to beautifully express things or inspire people is the work of a designer.   It is important for art to dig up human sensations. 

Jio :  On a trip to Stockholm I visited the parliament building and was inspired by the beautiful painting and structure of the ceiling when light was shining on it.  I felt the same sensation when I saw the structure of the Tokyo International Forum atrium.   I really like the architectural style of industrialism and structuralism.   I am not a designer, so I can express my thoughts well, but I really like the clear representation of beams, structural supports and steampunk. 

Mende  You say you are a beginner, but whether it is interior, cuisine, or table setting, we all are designing.  And I think everyone should try to enjoy design, even the little things.  

Jio :  I would like to share with you a line from the 2013 movie “Life!”  “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”

Mende Well said!!  The purpose of design is not to draw attention, either.  Alot of design has been commodified, but we just have to stay away from bad design. 

Jio:Definitely!  I learned a lot today.  Thank you.