About Takusei Kajitani

Born on 28 April 1966 in Kyoto City and spent childhood time in Kurashiki City of Okayama Prefecture. Studied urban design at Kyoto University ,wrote a treatise on urban image formation. Particularly influenced by "The City of the Images", Kevin A. Lynch and "Notes on the Synthesis of Form", Christopher Alexander at that time. Began working for the design consulting department of the interior design and construction company in Tokyo for 5 years. Changed jobs to the advertising company Hakuhodo in 1995, and worked for the spatial design department that plans, designs, and produces various corporate branding facilities. In 2007, established Hakuhodo Experience Design, which specialized in "spatial experience design" and have been promoting various businesses with the theme of experience design that brings good relationships between corporates and the users. Established Consentable as private studio in 2014, after which I began to work on the theme of digital life furniture.

Interview with Takusei Kajitani

Takusei Kajitani ("TK") interviewed on Sunday, 18 June.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

TK : I began working as a planner for the design consulting department of the interior construction company, which mainly plans and designs the interior of the various commercial facilities in TOKYO for 5 years. After that, I changed jobs to the advertising company Hakuhodo in 1995, and began working as a spatial design director who plans, designs, and produces various corporate branding facilities. I experienced so many projects for various clients such as automobile companies, mobile phone carriers, real estates, cosmetic companies, energy companies and so on. And I learned the design working with various excellent designers met in the projects. In 2007, I established new creative team called Hakuhodo Experience Design which specialized in creating "spatial brand-experience" with various creative members such as movie creators, graphic designers, architects, marketers and interior designers. And I had been promoting various branding businesses with the theme of experience design that brings good relationships between corporates and the customers. At that time, I learned how to produce a brand space by integrating various designs (interior, furniture, architecture, graphics, movies, products, etc.) based on the discovery of problems, strategy planning method, and concept designing. And I clearly got my thinking that Design is a great tool to make some new experience. I worked for so various design projects such as a design guide line for branding of automobile dealer stores, an executive briefing center of a Japanese top real estate company, or an innovation center of a precision machine manufacturer. I have established Consentable as private furniture design studio in 2014, after which I began to work on the theme of digital life furniture. In other words, I work in a private design studio of Consentable while working at an advertisement company. I am doing this because I couldn't suppress the desire to launch original brand and pursue the possibility of design that provides a new experience. And I have started digital life furniture design that fits the rapidly evolving devices.

How did you become a designer?

TK : I studied Urban Design at Kyoto University. At that time, I was inspired by a book called "Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander. He was an architect and famous for the phrase "City is not a Tree" and argued that city planning does not come from the top down, but the bottom up. He edited the elements of the city like "languages", created something like a dictionary for architects, and wrote it down as a theory in his book "Pattern Language." Thus, he presented the idea that City Planning would be realized by designing each small facility in harmony, and created a stir in the City Planning industry at that time. I totally agreed with his idea, and I thought what needs bottom-up thinking is not only city planning, but also our all designs. And I wanted to be a designer from that perspective. Design does not have one correct answer, but various correct answers. And they can function as tools in the times and contribute to the development of next society. From that point of view, I found the job of a designer very attractive. So, I think it's important to think of design not only as a decoration, but as part of the large movements of our lives. My first job as a designer was interior design for an Italian restaurant. it was almost 25 years ago. The owner's order was to make the restaurant popular with young families in the area. At first, we started by investigating and analyzing what kind of restaurants are popular in Tokyo, why they are popular, and then thinking about the design concept, naming, menu and even the financial plan. And we worked on the design for the big purpose for changing the lives of the local people better by developing this new restaurant. On the day of the opening, a large number of customers visited with a smile, and the owner was very satisfied. As a designer, I have been most attracted to the moment when I can realize that design lives in society and is useful to the people. From my point of view, Design should serve its purpose for not only owner and customers, but society including those around it, like as "Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander. Since I became a designer, that idea hasn't changed.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

TK : The first priority is the long-lived design concept. I would like to create a design concept from these two major perspectives: looking ahead of the times and seeing the problems left behind by the times. The second is the craftsmen or the manufacturer who can share our vision and ambitions. In my case, at the concept stage, I often think alone, but at the detailed design stage, I work with the craftsmen or the manufacturer to think about rational manufacturing methods and points for improvement. I think that the designer and the craftsmen should work together to aim for a finished product. The third priority is the final stage of making a mockup and using it for myself. At this stage, once I forget that I am a designer, I discover and point out a lot of “No” for mockups from a complete user perspective. My design goes through these three priorities to become a finished product.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

TK : I'm just focused and acting innocently like a kid. It's been my habit for a long time, but when I concentrate on something, I get into a consciousness that seems to be separated from the surroundings. This is often the case when designing. The most fulfilling feeling in a design is the moment when the design is used by the people. It feels like sending my child, who has been raised so hard, to kindergarten. Just as his parents are impressed to see him interacting and having fun with everyone around, I feel great happiness when my design is accepted by society.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

TK : I am very interested in "human beings". I have always liked to think about "human beings", especially from the natural science sperspective. I like to read books such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, biology and history books. In terms of design, the books about Leonardo da Vinci were very interesting and greatly influenced by my way of thinking about design. I often think about why was "design" born in human beings? It is said that our ancestors began designing stone tools for food processing in the Lower Paleolithic era, around 3 million years ago. It was so long before the discovery of Fire. Therefore, "design" was possibly existed before the formation of group society such as family or hunting teams. Thus, I believe "design" was born from the result of our eagerness to "live" in ancient harsh environment, not only for express something to their group society. Therefore, I am thinking it is important to think of “design” as a piece in a large planning for our human beings' "lives".

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

TK : What I'm most interested in right now is to create a eco-system for collaboration between designers in the world, in other words, to build a business model for next-generation design. Since the Industrial Revolution, the design world has developed in a society premised on mass production. Architectural design has also evolved with the urbanization of the world. This is because the power of design was the source of creating a new human-centered environment while utilizing the resources of nature as raw materials or as urban grounds. That was why the power to draw the future of design has created great economic value. But what about looking back on the present day? Is it possible to make the design great value even now? I basically think YES. However, I think that the direction of design value is needed to be changed. Now is the time to think seriously about the sustainability of the global environment. We must rewrite the concept of growth that the world takes for granted, such as mass production, mass consumption society, and urbanization. To that end, we designers should change and proceed. As for how to change, I hope that more designers in the world should have relations beyond the borders of nationality, corporate, culture and so on. Because we should start talking on how we should protect the global environment or how we can make it. Because it is necessary to collaborate from various perspectives in order to solve such a very big problem. If I could invent such a business model, I can say I could contribute a little to the next generation of designers.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

TK : The profession of designer is a very important, meaningful and interesting profession that will affect the future of humankind. Going back to the history of design in a broad sense, the design of stone tools about 3 million years ago was the first. After that the design on how to use fire around a million year ago, and then decorations, cave paintings, musical instruments 30,000-80,000 years ago. Surprisingly, the design of architecture and letters is an event of only about 10,000 years ago. Anyway, as you can see from the history of design, design has the power to change human civilization. What I would like to convey to young designers is to work on design from a big perspective, to think what kind of design is needed when looking back on the present from that perspective.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

TK : For this question, you might want to mention best practices and principles that other designers could follow to be successful. You may mention some common mistakes or biases that they should avoid or give them tips, shortcuts and inspiring ideas to do better. What tips and ideas would you give to people who are looking to get started in design? Do not focus on young designers, this question is about pro-tips. I think design is like a word for society. Until the word is spoken, we don't know the influence of the word, and when we say the word, we get various reactions from society. So, once I start designing, I should be careful not to shake the design concept until unveil to the society. I think that the design concept is the significance of the existence of design. Therefore, after a lot of research and thought, if I have any doubts about the design concept, I will reconsider whether I should really proceed with the design. The design concept is like the basic structure for advancing the design, so I want to think and make from bottom of my heart. In order to create a design concept smartly, I focus on two perspectives. One is the flow of the times, and the other is the problem of being left behind in the times. I think the design concept needs an idea to fill these gaps. By incorporating a large perspective into the design concept, we believe that not only will we contribute to the evolution of society, but we will also be able to create designs that are stable.

What is your day to day look like?

TK : It’s very simple like below. I wake up in the morning and check the weather, air, sunlight outside and usually stretch and workout for inner muscle. After that, I have a breakfast and conversations with my family, and check the today’s schedule and emails with my Mac Book or smartphone. I usually work from home, and have some meetings with my colleagues by online or smartphone, or focus on each project. Sometimes I go jogging for a change when I don't have a meeting. I also have more opportunities to cook for my family. Anyway, I always work very relaxed. Alternatively, I go to exhibitions, flip through design-related magazines and books, and expand my ideas on a daily basis. After work, it's time for dinner with my family. Since I started working from home, I've become more familiar with making slightly elaborate meals and opening wine and beer. It's a fun time. After that, I usually spend a relaxing time. Take a bath, watch TV, watch movies online. Recently, the opportunity to play board games with family has increased. After that, I fall asleep. In the midst of this everyday life, in the midst of normalcy, I am always thinking about the next design. The problems that need to be solved are in my daily lives, so I focus on thinking about them in that context. And I am always waiting for hints of solutions to arise by chance. I want to cherish the design concept that I can see in a simple and natural life. In addition, I always try to avoid thinking that "the lifestyle as a designer should be something" because it makes the borders of ideas.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

TK : I'm not particularly aware of design trends. But we check trends from time to time to understand the trends of the big era. I have a private design studio, but I also work for an advertising company fortunately. At an advertising company, I have an environment where I can always accept global movements such as various marketing information, consumer trends, government movements, etc., so I think I often get new design tips from it.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

TK : When judging the quality of a design, I always focus on scarcity. In particular, I focus on the scarcity value of the experience. . What is designed becomes a product, is used by the user, and is eventually disposed of as waste. Considering that what I design becomes a product, I believe that I should not design too many products that have no scarcity value. In addition, I also place importance on the potential of the design to become a standard in the future. Our lives are changing rapidly with the times, and what is required of design will also change with the demands of the times. In this context, I believe it is important for designers to design with an awareness of the standards of the next generation.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

TK : I always make mockups in the final stages of design and give myself some time to use and experience them. I forget the role of designer, and become a complete user. And I observe my feelings to it when I use it, experience it and evaluate it. At that stage, if the user inside me gives OK, the design is complete.

What is your biggest design work?

TK : It’s the first product, CONSENTABLE / WT as founder of CONSENTABLE, because it gave me the chance to think deeply about Design. I usually work as a spatial designer in advertisement company and work for various big project such as branding space, promoting space, retail store and restaurant of our client. However, I can’t decide the design freely in these client works because it belongs to the client. So, WT project was the most important for me because I had the opportunity to think deeply about what issue to consider, what kind of design to make, when to announce it, etc. at my own discretion. In addition, the experience of exhibiting CONSENTABLE / WT for the first time in 2014 at an overseas exhibition (Milan Design Week) was very important. Of course, I was inspired by the reactions of various people to my design, but especially the conversation with the various very unique and talented designers from the world gave me a great inspiration and joy. And I hope that winning this A' Design Award will be an equally wonderful experience.

Who is your favourite designer?

TK : I love Achille Castiglioni's designs. I strongly feel both the depth and simpleness of design, including rationality, diversity, originality, humor, and warmth with his designs. In the sense of favorite design studies, I love to study the thinking ways of Charles Eames, Le Corbusier. Because they are so simple, innovative and effecting to societies, even to our recent Lives. At the same time, I think the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Antonio Gaudi have a lot to learn for me when considering the principles of nature and design.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

TK : I live in Tokyo, Japan. Since ancient times, Japanese people have a culture of enjoying the four seasons of nature, a sense of beauty that prefers to be simple, minimal and rational. They have a great influence on my design. Rather, I would like to regenerate them to the modern daily life. There are still quite a few good craftsmen who have inherited traditional techniques in Japan. I think it is a great advantage to be able to design on the premise of using the excellent technology of such craftsmen. On the contrary, if there is a design disadvantage of being in Japan, it is that the traditional cultural heritage is being lost due to the excessive urbanization and globalization in Japan. I feel this is a big problem for Japanese design.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

TK : As CONSENTABLE which I preside over, I usually create a team for each project. After the design concept is decided, I consider which work partner should be selected. When I start to work together with them, I usually spend a little time talking about the project while actually meeting and eating. The selection criteria are different for each project, but what have in common is that I often work with people who are engaged in unique challenging activities. I think design is like a "kind of conversation", so it's because it will be more attractive design to have a "conversation" with unique and challenging person.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

TK : Since I entered university, I have left my hometown of Okayama prefecture and have continued to live in Kyoto and Tokyo. About a few years ago, I started to make some contribution to Okayama, and I am doing design activities as a volunteer. I have been involved in winery construction work for domaine tetta in Okayama prefecture, and I also ask the furniture craftsmen or studio in Okayama for CONSENTABLE furniture. I learned a lot from this activity. It means that even if I don't have financial rewards, I will get more mental rewards than I expected, such as irreplaceable experiences and valuable relationships.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

TK : There are three benefits to participating in a design award. One is that your design can be evaluated by non-users. This gives me the chance to know its reputation of my design in comparison to many designs. It leads to reasonable motivation for the next improvement. The second is that I can have time to objectively face my own design and organize my thoughts about it. It is of great value to me to organize my own way of thinking by recreating the detailed presentation tools required for each award. Third, if I win the award, I will have more opportunity to meet challenging people. This is not only a PR effect, but it is also very valuable to start new communication such as toasting with project members and meeting other award winners at the award ceremony.

Takusei Kajitani Profile

Swing Ao Stool

Swing Ao Stool design by Takusei Kajitani

Consentable MT Dining Table

Consentable MT Dining Table design by Takusei Kajitani

Consentable WT Ao PC Work Desk

Consentable WT Ao PC Work Desk design by Takusei Kajitani


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