Note: This post is from a series of interviews with AZZAMI, CEO and Creative Director of Craft Design Technology, Owner and CEO of Advertising Orchestra, and Producer of Casbah and the Vegan Mandala Project. The interview was held in Japanese and transcribed into English. Photos (except #2) by AZZAMI. Photo #2 by Casbah.
Q: What does “design” mean to you?
I have two answers to that. Design as art, and design as commerce. When we talk about design as art, the only concern is the expression of self, and it matters little what others think, whether or not they would pay money for it. All that matters is an examination of who and where you are.
Just as an antique Barbie doll can have no value for one person and be worth millions to another, the value of art (for the sake of art) cannot be calculated, and the value (for the artist) stems solely from the depth of his pursuit. In other words, there is no compromise.
On the other hand, the purpose of design as commerce is to enrich the lives of those who are willing to pay a certain amount of money for your product. For those who create, issues that do not pertain to self, such as making sure the staff does not go hungry, become a deciding factor.
(For the story about this table, please visit the last post.)
Q: What does personal design mean to you?
I suppose my answer would be, to make lives richer. I feel this way about fashion (through a 25-year career), but I live by the belief that design is about etiquette, an expression of respect to those present. Often described (in fashion) as TPO (Time, Place, Occasion), there’s a certain moral code, or etiquette people have when dressing for an occasion.
The same goes with design. Of course there are the artists who create out of ego, trying to create what they think will sell, and when it doesn’t, they’re resentful. That’s just a matter of now knowing where to draw that line. To me, design will always be associated with etiquette, with respect. With wanting to bring wonder and joy.
Q: These votive candleholders caught your eye at Anthropologie. What was it about them?
These votive candleholders at Anthropologie – which had all been loaned out for a photo shoot two days later when I returned – are a perfect representation of the world we live in now.
After 3.11 (the Japan triple-disaster) and 9.11 for Americans, one of the keywords we tend to lean heavily toward is “warmth”. The explosion of social media points to our desire to connect, to the relief we feel when a human connection occurs.
In the place of an impersonal modern or sharp feel, there’s a certain ease (an almost imperfection) the world wants to experience now (which in fact, requires great skill and technique).
Similar design trends can be seen in the Japanese market, which has turned dramatically away from the emotionless feel of stones and metals (in furniture, etc), to the warmth of wood, though with a more modern edge than the sweetness of the Scandinavian design trend a few years ago.
It may be similar, as seen in fashion trends of the past, to mini skirts becoming the rage during years when a developed country is at war, in an economic downturn, and unemployment rates are through the roof. The tension in the atmosphere often causes people to break out and express themselves in loud, dramatic fashions, as opposed to times of peace when people do not feel bound, and are generally emotionally free to wear whatever they please, from sugary sweet to complete punk rock.
A store like Anthropologie chooses its products with the intent to sell to customers, of course. But what interests me more are the shelves that hold the displays, a certain mirror in a restaurant that brings me back again and again, or for example, the gold in the Soho Grand. I’m drawn to places like these for its details.
Next time I’m in New York, the merchandise lining the shelves at Anthropologie might not even catch my eye. The single most important quality to have as a buyer is to see things that others don’t notice. You may never be able to return to the store again, and you just have that one second to decide.
To keep a discerning eye in top form is essential, to act instantaneously when something in the store clicks with what’s inside of you. To know what wave is coming next before it even starts to ripple. When I sense that in a piece (or clothing), I’ll buy it for my own collection, knowing I can’t use or wear them.
What people look for now is a practicality that tends to give warmth but does not have the “too much sweetness” feel, an easeful style that soothes the soul. And these 4 items, to me, share that same common thread.
If the topics of design and how to keep a discerning eye interest you, drop by my Pinterest page, where I pin items under Product Design, Architecture, Old School (Sneakers), and Art, among other boards.
And I’ll see you back here again, next week.