Everything is light and nice in Oki Sato, starting from his natural smile and the impalpable business card he hands with grace. Signs that identify also his fluent and ethereal designs always giving an unexpected and joyful emotion.
Born in Canada 37 years ago, the versatile and talented designer founder of Nendo studied in Tokyo and is always touring the world “I’m always on the move, I never stops anywhere for more than three days”.
We met Oki Sato in the Emeco Stand on the occasion of Salone del Mobile in Milan. The town where Nendo office are based since 2005, a town Oki loves “Milano it is not only important for furniture design, it is a place for new ideas”. Judging by the innumerable objects, in all kinds of sectors, he has designed over his 20 years of activity, he is never short of ideas…
Is the planning model of Nendo the same everywhere in the world and with all kinds of companies or design products or does the approach change to the different situations?
I try to do that.. I think there are two kind of designer; one is the Chef the other one is like a mother or a grandmother cooking. I am more the grandmother cooking. I don’t start bringing my own vegetables and meat and other materials, but like I visit someone’s kitchen and open the refrigerator: I visit the offices and the production plants, I meet people and the company.
I can find different things inside of the fridge; that hasn’t to be the best materials but I ask myself: what can I make using this materials? I try to think something original and I start cooking in that way.
What is the most important element in your “recipes”?
Probably spices. Spices are fundamental especially in Japanese design. We think in a very minimal and simple way, but a too simple and minimal design sometimes is cold. I want to create a link between objects and people using humor or surprise in the everyday life.. this are the spices of design.
Spices are the emotion? The happiness and surprise elements in your work?
Yes that’s right. I think Design must have some very small WOW! moments. I believe these small “WOW!” moments are what make our days so interesting, so rich.
Are there any conceptual “contaminations” and common elements between the many design areas you deals with?
I really don’t start from materials or technology but I’m interested in the story hidden behind objects. After I find a story it is simple to find the best match between materials and the rest just comes out very naturally. I think is a philosophical, “materical” and technological mix.
What scenarios and evolutions do you expect for the office and the ways of working in the near future?
My workplace is wherever and whenever I can think about things and have new ideas; wherever I have my suitcase. The office is disappearing, it’s blending in the living room, sleeping room, hotel or restaurant; and you can relax or work in a restaurant as in your living-room. I don’t think it really makes sense nowadays to put a label on spaces. You have to be very flexible when you think about spaces.
Is there a Master that inspired you?
Issey Miyake. it was very interesting when I had a collaboration. We made a paper chair together named Cabbage Chair.
What is your favorit object among your projects, the one you really love?
Every project is different, I cannot compare my products. Design is about solving things about finding new solutions. The favorite one is the one I am working on this moment, the last one …or the next one…
What is the definition of your design in one word?
I don’t know… maybe friendliness or smile.
1, Oki Sato, founder of Nendo.
2, Desalto, Wave, bench-tables collection, design by Nendo.
3,Cos, temporary installation during Milano Design Week 2014, design by Nendo.
4, Cappellini, Peg Sofa (design by Nendo) characterized by an ample seat and a soft and rounded profile.
5, Offect, Cape (design by Nendo), an innovative chair with a double shell.
6, KN Industrie, Nendo Collection (design by Nendo), a rational grid in different colors which wraps up pots and frypans until becoming the handle.
7, 8, Emeco, SU Collection (design by Nendo) features precise engineering and the
use of new, surprising eco-conscious materials.
9, Shivering-Bowls (design by Nendo). A set of bowls for the KAMA. Sex & Design exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan “We wanted to express eros through a design that invokes desire; a design that viewers simply can’t bear not to touch”.
10, Cabbage Chair. Nendo designed the cabbage chair in 2008 for XXIst Century Man exhibition curated by Issey Miyake to commemorate the first anniversary of 21_21 Design Sight in Roppongi, Tokyo.
11, Moroso, Heel (design by Nendo). The line of the back legs and their connection to the backrest give this chair the silhouette of a spike heel.
12, Spicebox Office. The office space designed by Nendo in Tokyo for the comprehensive digital agency that works across strategic planning, interactive promotion and creative digital marketing.