Designer Yuya Ushida has developed ‘XXXX_’ a transformable furniture system made of four components in different lengths, rings and joints. when put together, the assembly becomes more than just the sum of parts. in a synergetic manner, the furniture expands and contracts as needed. sofas, stools, tables and benches can be created from the eight different elements within the building kit–this modular system offering endless furniture possibilities. Becoming a designer does not only require the attention to aesthetics, but also an understanding of materials, techniques and usability aspects of the product. The goal is to create products that make people happy. He is a true visionary and we are pleased to feature him in the Creative Spotlight. Read below for the full interview…
As you progress through your career, have you come any closer to the meaning of the word ‘design’ and how it relates to art?
Yuya: I understand some of the design pieces can also be art pieces and some designers makes an object which none allow to use (please don’t touch)! For me, Design and Art are completely different. “Art” can be allowed to express whatever the artist wants. But “Design” always has to be considered for the user. Art is one direction, Design is both ways. I prefer to catch ball with someone instead of throwing alone.
You designed a couch that also doubles as a chair. How important is it to be cutting edge and design a product that serves multiple functions? Are you trying to improve peoples lives or pushing yourself to be more innovative?
Yuya: Not important at all. However, as I said above, design has to be considered for user. Also actually what do you need more? What do you want a thing which you have never seen? It doesn’t have to be cutting edge, multi function or innovative, but if it already exists or a similar thing exists, a designer doesn’t have to (maybe MUST NOT) make it, because we already have it. I don’t think my couch is cutting edge and innovative, because the X principle is everywhere in our life. I just used many of it. I think less cutting edge / innovative, yet cool, is much more difficult, therefore I want to try this more.
Japanese architect Yumiko Ishihara used 3,000 chopsticks to form a wall a few years back. It’s definitely not as extensive as your usage of 8,000 chopsticks, but why do you think chopsticks are used as a reliable medium by many creative?
Yuya: You might be disappointed to hear, but I didn’t expected to use “chopsticks” as a material for the project, it was sort of an accident. In the beginning, I had an abstract idea that I wanted to use bamboo as a material for a project. Then after I decided to make a transformable couch, I knew I need massive quantities of parts. Also I thought a bamboo stick is ideal material because it is strong and light. However, it is quite difficult to find a bamboo in EU. I asked several distributors in EU, but I could not find a right one.
One day I went to eat Sushi, I found chopsticks, and as you can imagine a chopstick was ideal for my idea (right sizes for the parts, easy to get many quantity and cheap). However, I actually don’t prefer to mention “IT WAS MADE OUT OF CHOPSTICKS!!”, because I am Japanese, “Japanese = Chopsticks” is quite a cheap idea for me. It is like American designer using a hamburger or Coca Cola for his design. As I said, using chopsticks was just an accident. I want people to focus on the concept, not chopsticks as a material. However I knew somehow people love to connect my nationality and chopsticks ;-).
You stated that repetition in architecture fascinates you. Some people might view this as lazy pattern driven design while others view it as genius geometrical design. Why does this style influence you so much?
Yuya: Maybe because my background is mechanical engineering. I like mechanical things and the structure. Most machines are constructed simply, there is no useless [machines]. I still prefer to announce my self as engineer, rather than designer. Because there are too many designer surrounding me!
Do you have any favorite Asian films or anime?
Yuya: I like Jackie Chan’s early movies [but] I am a TV person, so when I was a child, I watched many Fujiko-fujio’s anime (Doraemon, Kaibutukun, Obakeno Q-taro…). and of course Dragon Ball too.
You are often tasked with coming up for advertising concepts for popular clients. What is your creative process for tackling such projects?
Yuya: I always try to enjoy the task by myself. It tells you everything.
You helped a friend by creating a special chair for playing the piano. In Europe, human scale is different from that in Japan so you were able to improve his life with your design. What other everyday problems have you witnessed or encountered that you think you could solve with your work?
Yuya: I am always trying to solve a problem using my idea/designs whether big or small. You might be able to design a chair “whatever” you want. But it is quite hard to design “whatever” for me. And it is not fun at all. Always “Solving a problem” will be a starting point for me.
In addition you created a chair to help guard against Tatami flooring. History states these were made with rice straw but since have evolved using wood chip boards or polystyrene foam. How has the evolution of products impacted your overall design sense?
Yuya: Maybe my answer is not the right answer for your question. For the example, the chair for Tatami works for both real and artificial tatami. I think if it is a good design, or at least the user likes the design, this object is used continuously even it would be old fashion because of the evolution. I think a designer has to follow the current statement of technology; making new solutions/possibilities and material etc.
What designs are you working on in the remiander of 2013?
Yuya: I am fighting against economy crisis…
Any advice for any creative out there that might be experiencing mental roadblocks?
Yuya: Go to see an ocean! This is what I do.
Want to stay up to date on all of Yuya’s designs? Visit his official website below: