• October 2, 2020
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: The Reason Why We Can Think Outside the Box

    Taiyaki in NYC Have you ever seen the above ice cream (in the thumbnail image)? I’ve heard it’s extremely popular in NY now. When seeing the image, some Japanese people would have mixed feelings. They would be proud of the spread of Japanese culture, while feeling regret for not having had such an idea earlier. Yes, this ice cream is inspired by Taiyaki, a Japanese traditional pastry. Taiyaki ice cream may be re-imported to Japan like a California roll In ancient times, most of the Japanese sweets were made mainly from rice. Rice was very valuable, and so was sugar. General people couldn’t eat sweets. They were something to offer to the gods in the past. It is said pastries (made from eggs and flour) were imported from Portugal in around 1700. Funnily enough, about 300 years later, the Japanese pastry in the shape of fish goes across sea to […]

    • August 3, 2020
    • December 13, 2022

    How to Design Furniture, Michael Schneider #2

      This time, Michael talks about how product designs would change according to the changes in the market, especially about changes due to the recent rise of subscription and sharing businesses. Michael Schneider: I assume that subscription and sharing businesses will expand further in the furniture market. People will rent even pieces of furniture for a certain period of time. They will go back to factories for refurbishment and again be sent out to other users. This cycle could go on and on until they eventually go out of fashion or break. We will make furniture on the premise of continual refurbishment and changes in ownership. Accordingly, designers would have to focus more on efficiency in order to make production, packaging, and delivery easier. Despite such a trend, some of the current mainstream furniture will remain, patronized by people who appreciate true authentic value. Take Karl Lagerfeld for example. He had […]

    • July 27, 2020
    • August 18, 2022

    How to Design Furniture, Michael Schneider #1

    Product design with the times Many social scientists say we humans will, for coming 100 years, experience the same amount of change as what we had got through over the last 2000 years. It’s not only about technological advancement but also about our mentality. People become less interested in owning things (as shown in the rise of subscription and sharing business models). Our economic activities shrink day by day. How should we manufacturers adapt? I threw this question at one of our product designers, Michael Schneider. Michael Schneider: I am affirmative on subscription and sharing business models because they will enable us to live our lives with less costs and pollution. We are living in times of saturated markets, global warming, and limited resources. In such a condition, we have to make sacrifices to some degrees. Thanks to IT revolution and digitization, people will realize many business ideas more easily […]

    • July 22, 2020
    • September 21, 2022

    The Background of Product Development: Interview with a Manager #2

    Interview wit a product development manager Let me continue to share the interview with our product development manager. “Products in good quality and design don’t always sell well.” These words aroused my interest in his opinion on design, because he meant market valuation about design would not always be appropriate. Then what is good design from the view point of a product development manager? Q 4. If what you said is correct, are there products that are bad in design but good in sales? Good sales doesn’t always mean good design? A 4. Sadly for me, design is not a centerpiece factor any more to decide if a product sells well or not. Now that marketing, advertisement, etc. have more significant influence, people are more likely to decide not by physical factors like design and quality but by impression fostered by advertising media, for example. Q 5. What is good […]

    • July 20, 2020
    • October 6, 2022

    Difference in Production Management Between Ferrari and Toyota

    Production in Ferrari and Toyota According to the government, we have experienced the longest economic expansion since after the WWII. Although it seems like we ordinary people are left out of the economic boom. Surprisingly enough, more than 500 of Ferrari cars are annually sold somewhere in Japan, not around me at least. Speaking of Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari (the founder of Ferrari) left these famous words. “In the beginning the engine existed.” His point is it’s engines that feature Ferrari. Italian craftsmanship, based on expert technique and experience, realizes the world’s leading engines. There’s a consensus for that anywhere in the world. This doesn’t mean Toyota is inferior to Ferrari. I think the production of Toyota is also another act of God. They annually produce millions of cars in high and constant quality. No matter how much the price is, cars are precision machines consisting of more than 30000 pieces […]

    • July 15, 2020
    • September 21, 2022

    The Background of Product Development: Interview with a Manager #1

      Interview with a product development manager Are you interested in our product development stories? I actually am! Due to specialization at work, I don’t know much about how our products have been developed. Under the veil of work, I asked many questions to our product development manager. The questions that I’m personally interested in the answers to. They are more about the value he has in product development, rather than concrete methods of product development. This is delivered in two times: this week and next week. Q 1. Why did you decide to work in the product development of furniture, not other products? A 1. When I studied at Collage of Arts, the most popular industries were cars and electrical appliances, but most people working there didn’t look so happy. As specialization progressed, some people always worked on door mirrors, others worked on switch knobs, etc. On the other […]

    • July 8, 2020
    • December 6, 2022

    Japan Tips from Locals: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel

    The hotel was intact even after the Great Kanto Earthquake The Imperial Hotel was built in 1923, demolished in 1967. Only the entrance is still left as a museum in a small city in Aichi prefecture, far away from Tokyo where it was originally built. In order to make it the best hotel in Asia, the hotel company placed an order for Frank Lloyd Wright to design it. The name of the architect is one of the big factors for the building to go down in history like this, but there’s another big factor. On the very day of unveiling the hotel, the Great Kanto Earthquake hit Tokyo and claimed more than 140000 lives. Surprisingly enough, however, the hotel remained intact in such an unprecedented disaster. God in the decorations I visited the museum sometimes when I lived near the small city where the museum is located. What impressed me […]