A student in the art class challenged his teacher, saying “it’s meaningless to learn art. Art is something to feel, and our originality may be stunted by learning. ” The teacher answered quietly, “Can you draw like Picasso? Of course not, because he is a genius, and we are not. Originality is a characteristic only of a genius. We need to learn to understand geniuses and approach their level, even just a little.”
This story was told from my boss when I was in my early twenties. Although I’m embarrassed to share, I expressed my cheeky feeling to the great story: “To want to be unique” is a cliché, not unique. He answered quietly (the same as the teacher in the story) it would be human nature to want to be different from others. Since then, I’ve been interested in originality, our karma.
In the movie “Amadeus” Mozart was described as a genius — I had no doubt about that — but even he said, “I’ve never created an original melody.” It’s surprising, isn’t it? The interpretation of originality I like is that of Nietzsche. The German intellectual giant said, “Originality is to see something that is as yet without a name; that is as yet impossible to designate, even though it stares us in the face.” From the words of wisdom left by the two geniuses, we can see originality is not creating something completely new from scratch but a new value by mixing up existing ideas.
Sometimes our products are said to be similar to Scandinavian furniture, but you would have already understood it’s meaningless to discuss it even further. What is more important is whether or not products have the originality stated here. I’m sure there’s nothing but “the originality” in the combination of western furniture culture and Japanese woodworking skills with a history of more than 1,500 years.
He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.