Beyond Objects

In the past week, I was given the opportunity to share at the 10th Anniversary of the Osaka Design Forum organised by the Osaka University of Arts and had the chance to reunite with master designer Toshiyuki Kita. I had met Kita-san 10 years ago when I visited Japan for the first time. His passion and zeal is still as contagious as before. He is 74 years old!

In my presentation and the open dialogue with Kita-san, we touched on the topic on the changing roles of design and how designers should be prepared to take on a greater responsibility in our society. This reminded me of a sharing session a group of us had with him in my first trip to Japan when we visited his studio. We had asked him about his design philosophy. And he mentioned that it is really about extending the longevity of Japanese crafts – by creating contemporary pieces that can fit into the modern home. His reply shifted my perspective towards design, from one that is object-centred to one that is based on values.

Design (object) is a by product of the values we hold. Achieving “good designs (object)” today is an expected outcome in any design related project. We have to look beyond the object. Instead of asking ourselves what good designs are we going to make, perhaps we should ask what good are we making with designs.

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(Photo Credit: Osaka Design Forum)