There are many journeys in life. Long or short, familiar or unfamiliar, from home to work, from one city to a village, from one airport to another, and all that can be seen in between… Journeys are made of all the details, but they also form the larger picture of life. I would like to tell designers to experience their work like a journey. To think of the process and not just the end result. To pick up from what they see in their surrounding environment, to make sense of things, and draw inspiration from both the ordinary and the extraordinary.
On the road or in the air, I always enjoy the travel spent before the destination. Those moments are important for reflection and observation.
Returning home can also be seized as an opportunity to understand where we come from. To leave and to return has always been an important way for me to understand the difference and the similarities between people and places. Having lived away from my home country Japan for most of my life, the journey home has taken on a stronger meaning over the years (ride home on the expressway between Osaka and Kobe, pictured above.)
My journeys are most often focused on discovery/learning and meeting new people. The importance of sustaining human connections that can lead to inspiring ideas and collaborations motivates the work I do as a designer and as an observer. The magic of human encounters should never be taken for granted, we must deeply consider and cherish.
Along the journey, picking up unique objects that cannot be found elsewhere teaches me the importance of local crafts and design. Pieces that carry a story within them and are imbued with local culture, can add meaning to one’s life even in the most abstract of ways (jungle vine bag, pictured above.)
There are journeys in which old practices merge with the contemporary. Many good things can happen at such crossroads (Thai architecture firm using traditional crafts as a source of inspiration and technique for the creation of new designs, pictured above.)
Can designers draw new journeys for others? On the road less traveled, designers can make their contribution, and teach something about the value of creative thinking while at the same time learn about people’s needs, cultures and lifestyles (small branding solutions for locally made products, pictured above.)
Journeys are also about telling the stories behind the places, people, and products from different corners. Some of the most valuable things often remain invisible, they have many lessons to teach us. (online publication that promotes the locally-made, and community-based practices, pictured above and below)
I like to mention this story (above) to refer to the journey we share towards our common future. The path of globalisation and its uncertain destination. Do we have to travel on a highway? Shouldn’t we rather get off it and slow down? Speed brings many comforts but also makes the world feel less subtle. Walking speed is my recommendation.
Last but not least: the destination. Never exactly like it is imagined, the destination is the surprise holding new promises. It’s the door that opens up to new journeys. (4:00 AM sunrise in Hayama, Japan, unexpected burst of colours that woke me up and I rushed to capture the ephemeral moment on camera, pictured above)