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Reaching for new horizons in design

New style project

Exercise for the mind

Our home appliance designers recently completed a year-long project comprising three phases, which involved a variety of activities. The purpose of this project was to break down invisible barriers in their minds and expand their vision, thus empowering them to create highly original, stylish designs.

First Step - exercise:
The participants' thinking is stimulated through a wide range of workshops and seminars on diverse topics.

Second step - Idea construction:
A period of digesting and refining what they learned and experienced.

Third step - Realization:
The participants give shape to what they have gained through the first two phases.

Stimulated by exposure to other fields

Photographed by Junko Okagawa

In addition to high levels of motivation, resiliency and creativity are key factors needed to produce highly original, captivating designs. To strengthen these capacities, a wide range of activities were organized, which removed the participants from their everyday work and familiar products. Special emphasis was placed on stimulation from different fields.

The first step of our mind exercise spanned six months and included seminars focusing on fashion trends and lectures given by designers from other fields.

Some of the most impressive activities were the workshops at the experimental and experiential housing "Reversible Destiny Lofts MITAKA - In Memory of Helen Keller" and the Meguro Museum of Art. The theme was awareness of one's physical senses. Blindfolded, the participants moved about, concentrating on senses other than vision, which is used most often in daily life. The workshop was intended to switch on the "creative mind set" by stimulating and activating the physical senses.
>> Reversible Destiny Lofts MITAKA - In Memory of Helen Keller
>> Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo

Digesting the new stimulation

Photographed by Masataka Nakano

Discussion was the major activity in the second step. The stimulation the participants received in the first step needed to be digested and absorbed in order for something completely new to be born. A number of meetings were held, and feelings and thoughts were shared. The participants talked freely about what they found beautiful, what they cared about, and what drew their attention. Many of them realized that they were attracted by things that were fashionable, elegant and powerful; they recognized a clear change in their sensibility. All the participants appreciated the opportunities to express themselves freely.

Going beyond expression

Photographed by Junko Okagawa

The final stage was to put ideas into practice. Everyone extracted key words from what they had experienced during the sessions and then integrated them into an idea. In this process again, the participants verbalized what they were going through in discussions amongst all members, and then talked to the project leader separately. Exchanging thoughts and opinions helped shape and sharpen each idea.
Regardless of the product category they dealt with at work, the participants chose their model freely by answering this question: "Out of everything I felt and sensed during the sessions, what do I want to focus on to express myself?"

The final outcome was a new expression that broke through participants' conceptual shells. The project was successful in its goal of being a "design capacity empowerment exercise," and the participants acknowledged they had gained a great deal from the activities.

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