2020What design can do during an era of change
Kawanishi Yasuyuki
Yasuyuki Kawanishi, Director’s Message: “Design for expanding relationships”

Including design in lawmaking and public administration—some tips to share wisdom and innovative ideas


Automobiles undergoing the greatest transformation—attention to Last One Mile Mobility, which lies at the heart of the transformation

During the screening process of this year’s Good Design Award, I encountered many items that made me think “yes, our society has been waiting for just this!”, while there certainly were a number of orthodox-types of well-designed items as if self-asserting “how About this?” Design Movement on Campus, Taiwan’s education program by which both teachers and students are involved in the designing process, and BRING by which used garments are collected and recycled are examples that many people would wholeheartedly welcome.

However, there also were venturous entries which have not yet established a reputation though strive to indicate a future direction. For example, TOYOTA LQ by Toyota Motor Corporation. It was difficult to appraise the car positively in the screening, because it was entered as a concept car. However, the vision in this car is clearly indicating the future automobile society that the company endeavors to achieve.

The history of automobiles, which dates back About 100 years, is facing great change at the moment. This change is mainly lead by attention to Last One Mile Mobility, which is less mobile than an automobile or train, but has more mobility than walking.

Last One Mile Mobility should be introduced immediately as a transportation option for elderly people living in remote areas in the mountains. At the same time, it is important in terms of management and sustainability. As represented by 2019 entries GACHA, a self-driving bus by Ryohin Keikaku, and Choisoko, a shared transportation system, each company is working on this challenge in a competitive manner, creating a positive movement. One Mile Mobility is still in the transitional period of its development, but it is one of the most important subjects of our times along with welfare and the environment.

However, frankly speaking, Japan is less advanced compared to Europe. The new Citroën Ami, which was released by Renault in February 2020, is a car-sharing vehicle that can be driven by any French national over the age of 14 without a driving license. This is a huge national commitment, and the designing process even involves a stage of lawmaking.

On the other hand, the designing process in the Japanese mobility industry still remains at the level of shaping. In order to expand its possibilities, it is necessary to approach it from other aspects such as public systems and legislation. In this sense, Taiwan’s commitment to renovate the public system itself and China’s noticeable ability to create HONGJI Stone, a bicycle designed from molds taking global business into consideration, are outstanding.

However, it is a significant step forward for Japan that Tokyo Metropolitan Government COVID-19 The Information Website, an entry made by the government, has received an award this time. This website has caused a stir in the future relationship between Japanese public systems and design, as it is highly flexible, having room for improvement in prior, and being available for other municipalities. We designers should be involved in lawmaking and public administration. Through the screening, I felt that the expansion of the various attempts has been complexly incorporated into “design for expanding relationships”, the theme I have upheld.

How to share wisdom and innovative ideas to expand relationships between people

In my work, which is mainly designing vehicles, a composite design focusing on a connection between people and communities is required. How can we share wisdom and innovative ideas to expand relationships between people in a world of decreasing population due to the declining birthrates? There is no other way but designing by seeking the answer for this question.

However, the right solution is yet to be found, and there only are some tips scattered around at the moment. What I would like to introduce lastly is a tuna longline fishing boat Shofuku Maru No. 1 from Kesennuma.

Kesennuma incurred significant damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake. This boat is a product of the encounter of two people, a CEO of a fishery company and a designer, during the time of disaster reconstruction. The deep-sea fishing industry is now facing a severe shortage in labor, having difficulty in recruiting crews on bonito boats and tuna boats.

As you know, the demand for high-quality fish is increasing globally, and consequently, the competitive strength of Japan is declining. Therefore, they designed a fishing boat which is easy to work and comfortable to live in, so that crews can be proud of working in the fishing industry.

Not limited to tuna boats, all areas involving vessels are troubled by the shortage and aging of workers. Even though they obtain young workers, a generation gap between aged workers with experience and young workers is accelerating a loss of community. This item showed a practical example of what design can do to solve such a situation, and that is the reason why I have a high opinion of it. I would like to support the expansion of such relationships.

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