Sense of "Greatness" over "Coolness", Shunsuke Umiyama, microWorks

by Hiroki Yanagisawa on November 7, 2011 8:00 AM

Products you literally want to buy them keep them.

Place yourself in a supermarket, furniture store, or any other retail outlet. What factors are contributing you to actually "buy" something? Is it design? Is it price? Or is it conformity with a product, which naturally emerges from you?

A product designer, Shunsuke Umiyama of microworks, is the one, who is so good at producing products that belong to the latter reason to purchase -- a conformity factor.

"I think 'humor', and 'a sense of irregularity, hidden in our daily life' are the core elements that contribute to my works."

Shunsuke revels his inner thoughts, and continues.

"If you are a decent designer, I don't think it's that hard to create products that people perceive 'cool' or 'interesting'. When I am to create something, my focus is always on its practicality -- do I want to have it and use it. A sense of down to earth-ness is important to judge whether a creation is really required in our lives."

A product, 4° is a bookshelf. What's so 4° about it -- the shelves are inclined by 4 degrees.

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

If you look at a so-called perfect bookshelf, which you can witness on a magazine, all the books are perfectly aligned, and are perpendicular to the shelf. But where in the world do you find such shelf in an ordinary life?

Ideal Book Shelf
Ideal Bookshelf

Book Shelf in Reality
Bookshelf in Reality

To incorporate this gap of reality and ideal into design, Shunsuke produced 4°, a shelf that is designed to accommodate the reality of how the books are stored, and yet, the books are all stored in a great manner.

"4 degrees was an optimum angle to make it look natural and yet, you don't need any book end to keep the books up straight."

Shunsuke grins.

A similar principle was applied to Book Box, where the books are designed to look in the most natural form. They are stored in many angles, just like you see on many shelves.

Here's another product that shows Shunsuke's unique perspective as a designer. Designing something that people tend to ignore. Who could have thought of designing a string that ties an umbrella together? Shunsuke has come up with a design of the string -- mimicking a string as a flying squeal. Take a look at a product, Tail.

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

"An animal needed to have a long body so the umbrella can be tied together. After going through a number of ideal animals, a flying squeal was the one that qualified the requirement."

The blockbuster of this summer was a Fanhat, a hat that combines a design of traditional Japanese fan and hat.

"I've witnessed many people waving himself with a hat on a street, so I decided to make a hat that is more functional to such situation."

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

All of Shunsuke's unique and smart products are derived from his meticulous observations. As he claims, "It's so fun to overhear people's conversation and watch people on the street, because you can acquire so much information and realizations. In that sense, I usually come up with unique ideas when I am out, rather than sitting in front of my desk. I simply love to add a ''spice of design' to routine and mundane acts."

His design philosophy is condensed into this prototype product -- a wine glass. This wine glass, titled Flamingo, is a collaborative model with a glass craftsman in Toyama.

"A wine glass is consisted from 3 parts -- bowl, stem, and plate. In order to implant a 'story' on this structure, I've extrapolated the glass to a flamingo." Stem is her foot and plate is ripple on a pond.

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

What will Shunsuke be designing next? It will surely be something that surrounds us and put you a grin on your face.

microworks Official Website: http://www.microworks.jp/

Shunsuke Umiyama, microworks

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