Time for Real Work


The bill of public spending of more than 1,900 billion dollars was passed in the US Lower House. Accordingly, the US economy (the Dow-Jones average, at least) is coming back like crazy, even though many people have not yet been back to business as usual. In Japan, it has been reported that many people at remote work are complaining “So bored to death,” even though they were complaining about non-decreasing overtime before the COVID. Most of us simply believe our work contributes to society or someone else, and that that’s the reason why money is paid, but I come to doubt it after seeing the above facts. We may have just wasted time for things no one wants, and actually may no longer even work for money.

Some of you may say “You talk nonsense! Who will provide for me and my family then?” I know things have not yet been perfect, but do you remember why we, human beings, have continued to make strenuous efforts for technological advancement so far? It must have been originally and mainly for skipping hard work. Now, as the above news indicates, the world seems to keep moving around without our work thanks to the surplus value made by high-performance machines, robots, etc. We may be going to be free from work only for money in the near future.

Conde House table factory

Even in such an ideal future, I believe we will keep on working, though we may not call it work if the definition of work is doing something for money. According to Donald Super, a psychologist famous for his Career Development Theory, work values can be evaluated in 15 scales, and Economic Return is only one of them. The scales where the work of our company would score high are Creativity (work which permits one to invent new things, design new products, or develop new ideas) and Aesthetic (work which permits one to make beautiful things and to contribute beauty to the world). In the future, many applicants might be rushing to us hopefully, though most of the small-and-medium sized companies like us are now suffering from a shortage of manpower.


Shungo Ijima

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.


Photo Credit: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/11/robots-jobs-employees-artificial-intelligence


Better than Chanel No.5


One day at a restaurant with my wife, I was finishing off lunch with crème brulee, a kind of custard pudding. Soon after taking a bite, sweet and sour taste spread in my mouth. Nodding knowingly, I said “Lemon is doing its magic.” My wife, saying “What! There’s no way that lemon is used in crème brulee,” twitched and smelled it, and her judge was “Are you OK? It’s just gone bad.” I don’t mean to make an excuse, but our smelling sense has been most degrading among human five senses. Once human beings had more than 800 olfactory receptors, but now, the number is only less than 400. In exchange for that, we’ve got eyesight much better than other animals, though.

About 200 million years ago, in order to avoid dinosaurs, mammals are thought to be active at night, and accordingly, a sense of smell was most important for them to move in the dark. After the extinction of dinosaurs, mammals advanced into the world in the sunlight, and especially human beings had evolved its visual sense. It is said that we obtain 80% of information input from vision. Inversely with the improvement of visual sense, our smelling sense has been degrading but is still necessary and special. It acts directly on emotions and memories while other four senses work to form a rational judgement.

Handcrafted furniture by Conde House.

Indeed, I often feel like smells trigger some memories or emotions. It can be said that a sense of smell is most likely to cause psychological reactions, like aromatherapy does. The reaction is not a judge of good or bad, but a gut feeling of like or dislike. As far as I remember, most of our likes and dislikes in smell are formed by the age of about three years, but I believe most people like the smell of wood, right? It always reminds me of a sauna, by the way. In addition, some medical reports are saying it actually has some good effects of relaxation, bringing down blood pressure, boosting immunity, etc. There’s no reason not to buy our furniture made of special wood in Hokkaido!


Shungo Ijima

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.


Photo Credit: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/11/15614748/human-smell-good-science


Uncanny Valley


Believing I’m not the only one, I feel scared of zombie movies but not of Aliens, Predators, etc., though all those movies are same in terms that many people are eaten or just killed. I had always wondered why that was, and one day, understood the reason when reading an online article about a robot development. The article said Osaka university research team had developed humanoid robots that look exactly like a human being. The robots are well designed and look like us at first glance, but when I saw them move, it soon turned out that they were not human beings, and I felt the same fear as the one I have for zombies.

I learned later that it was a psychological phenomenon called “Uncanny Valley.” The more objects resemble human beings, the more people feel an affinity for the objects, but right before perfect resemblance in the rising curve of affinity, there’s a certain range where uncanny feelings are provoked. According to my further research, this is thought to stem from one of natural human reactions in neuroscience, called “lateral inhabitation.” We are designed to recognize differences more clearly on the boundary of different things. You can experience this very easily. Line up some color plates (put them together side by side); let’s say some grey color plates different in brightness. On the boundary of the lighter and darker grey plates, you will find the lighter grey look further lighter; the darker further darker.

The CRUST Collection by Raw-Edges

This time, what I’m most interested in is the fact (our nature) that we basically feel an affinity to people, though being too sensitive to small differences sometimes. That gives us some hope anyway, doesn’t it? And also, I think that answers to another question: why people like organic-shape products like our furniture, though it requires advanced techniques and additional costs. No worries, by the way. Indeed, the arms of our chairs, for example, are organic-shaped but not so much smooth and resilient as human arms. You will never feel uncanny to them.


Shungo Ijima

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.


Photo Credit: https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna46933495


Memory Glorification


When I was a kid, my father often took me to rivers, lakes, etc. to fish, one of which is unforgettable. It was a small river; some small waterfalls were aligned in a row; I fished a lot! Oddly enough, my father always says he doesn’t know such a place. To make matters worse, he says I’ve never fished a lot. Since then, I’ve been interested in memory glorification. I know brain science has already found out its structure that is very simple: we make minor changes every time recalling memories; we recall good memories more frequently because feeling good; good memories change more and better as a consequence. That makes sense but is just boring (and difficult to be associated with our promotion), and so, let me share my own theory.

We unconsciously recognize every event happening in our lives is non-reproducible, which, I personally think, would be the reason of our memory glorification. For example, suppose you really enjoy food at some restaurant; I guess it’d not be only because of the food quality, but other factors also influence your good impression, such as your physical condition, conversation with your companion, the clean and stylish interior of the restaurant, etc. Good events can be said to be miracles resulted from a set of accidents, and we adorably polish up memories of such good events because we unconsciously know they can never be reproduced in exactly the same situation.

In a sense, our products are non-reproducible because no wood materials are the same. A good example is our tables. The surface of the top board is one and only, expressive, and special to you. Due to this character unique to natural material, we can’t provide exactly the same one as what you see in person at a shop, but I would be glad if you could cherish what you get because it is going to be glorified the same as good memories.


Shungo Ijima

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.