2020What design can do during an era of change
Yoshihiko Yamasaka
Considering “Design serving as a guidepost pointing the way to a new society”

Pioneering a major path and indicating a byway for social change


Yoshihiko Yamasaka, a creative director, listed the theme “Design serving as a guidepost pointing the way to a new society” upon becoming a Focused Issues Director. During the coronavirus crisis when past common sense no longer applies, the role of design necessary at this time is to point at the direction like a compass. Yamasaka says “there are two such directions.”

Two directions indicated by design during an era when the destination is uncertain

There are two directions for the “guideposts” in the focused issues theme “Design serving as a guidepost pointing the way to a new society” that I chose.

Yoshihiko Yamasaka

The first is a design that represents the major path of “this way is the future” as if it were a gigantic highway. The other is a design that represents a different byway or shortcut in response to existing or conventional methods.

Particularly impactful were the circular economy “BRING” and the shopping platform “LOOP” that both demonstrated a future approach to environmental and disposal issues by constructing a new circulating system. I praise how these two initiatives both put forward the proposal of “let’s do it together.”

For something that cannot be accomplished by one business or one organization, exceeding the framework and collaborating allows a new challenge to be made. That this was demonstrated was significant.

In the field of local community that I am usually involved in, there is a way of thinking called “collective impact” that refers to the effect produced when various stakeholders come together to work on social problems. Yet corporations in the past tended to want to complete business single-handedly as much as possible.

However, as social problems become critical, including environmental issues, it seems that rather than corporations working separately, the movement to join hands is becoming conspicuous.

In terms of representing a major path, Suntory Group’s future Plastic Policy announced by Suntory Holdings Limited is also important. A large corporation like Suntory stating its aim to reduce plastic in collaboration with various concerned parties, such as by making a 100% switch to recycled or plant-derived materials for PET bottles by 2030, has a large impact.

By Suntory taking the initiative towards a sustainable society, I believe they hope other corporations will follow their lead. As such, it is important for someone to pioneer a path for social change.

On the other hand, “Solar Town Fuchu” demonstrated a refreshing byway for existing issues. The often spoken About “community packaging” issue is rather difficult to realize.

Meanwhile, this single-dwellings complex established servitude and supplied a common space called a “garden path” in the center that used a portion of the plots of the 16 houses. It is an arrangement whereby each household shares a small burden for creating a communal space, and using that as an entryway to thinking of community is where the clue lies for future communities.

If I venture to say, while there were many endeavors that were respectable and useful for society, I also hoped there would be an increase in initiatives that represented the state of the future and simply induced people to dream or become excited. In that sense, I felt a simple excitement for the “Antarctica Mobile Station Unit as Research platform” undertaken by Misawa Homes Co., Ltd. jointly with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) towards developing a crewed space exploration base in the future. This intuitive delight is also important in thinking of the future.

There were also other initiatives that strongly evoked dreams, playfulness, beauty, or elegance in their designs or the stories behind them. These included Yamasen, a beautiful Japanese restaurant in Uganda that was built solely with local materials and the skills of local craftspeople, and Sharp Bitescan, which offers an enjoyable means of visualizing chewing and its importance. They appeal not only to the left brain, but also to the right. This is perhaps the very essence of design that we should not forget, even in an age of chaos.

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Focused Issues