UNFOLDING SMALL MOMENTS

OKI SATO – NENDO, TOKYO

Being a self-confessed workaholic and running one of the most prolific design studios in the world could be a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, Oki Sato thrives when busy; a fact illustrated by his ever- cheerful yet unassuming demeanour; and long list of products and awards.

As Founder and Chief Designer of nendo, he typically works on a staggering four hundred designs at a time. If that weren’t enough, Oki has made international exhibitions a staple output since launching his studio in 2002. Museums and galleries seem to be fitting settings for the artful playfulness that is inherent to every nendo product.

Oki believes his designs should punctuate our everyday lives with small moments; often through the vehicles of humour and delight. The approach makes the products accessible and mitigates the distance sometimes characteristic of reductive Japanese design. “nendo is Japanese for play dough. And that freedom of making shapes and mixing colours is exactly how I wanted to work. I believe design should be friendly.”

It’s a signature clearly legible in the ‘fusion’ chair. Oki Sato’s inspiration was the Japanese paper folding art of origami. And in response, the visually comforting chair appears to have been folded from a single flat cushioned form. As you ponder the plausibility of such a construction it draws you closer – daring you to try the impossible, and unfold it.

The collaboration between BoConcept and nendo was natural. It traversed a connection between nations established over one hundred and fifty years ago, when Danish architects, artists and designers travelled to Japan to seek new inspiration. They were among the first western creatives to visit the nation that had only recently lifted its 220-year closed border policy. The impression Japan made was indelible. It can be seen in Danish ceramics, furniture, open- plan architecture and minimalism. And today, that admiration is reciprocated, as Danish design continues to grow in popularity throughout the island nation. “There’s so many similarities between Danish and Japanese design, especially how we treat natural materials like wood or leather. We try not to work too hard on the materials. We try to be as honest as possible – to maintain the finish. And in the end, it becomes natural, simple and functional.”

fusion chair I fusion daybed

Oki Sato is the Founder and Chief Designer of nendo, the world- famous Japanese design studio. The Canadian-born designer and architect speaks on the links between Danish and Japanese design and the inspiration behind the fusion collection.

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