This Little Piggy Stayed Home

And this little piggy was redesigned by Oki Sato.

Melissa Dunkerley


Designs that involve interaction with humour and deeper feelings keep us more engaged. That is Oki Satos intention. Sato’s is a creative designer who’s studio, Nendo meaning, ‘modelling clay’ is based of his philosophy to have the passion of flexibility and to reinvent. He drives to create a new style for his time. Sato was born in Canada, however, now lives and breathes his work in Tokyo, Japan, where Sato takes his inspiration from.  Highlighted by winning designer of the year in 2012 by British Magazine Wallpaper.

One of Sato’s great works is Pyggy-Bank (2010), which is an imitation of the history of the ‘piggy bank’. What is so interesting is, I don’t think most people know its true history until first hearing about Sato’s work.

Oki Sato, Pyggy-Bank (2010)
Oki Sato, Pyggy-Bank (2010)

‘Piggy Bank’ is a name that relates back to Medieval Europe when people used to put small change or coins that weren’t used into everyday jars that were made from unglazed pink clay, they were called ‘pygg’. Hence the pun is where the word Piggy Bank derived from. Sato reinvents this idea using the history and the name as a basis. This immaculate design inspired from the clean and minimalist culture of Japan creates this parody thats exists between ‘pygg’ and ‘pig’. Sato make this symbolism even more obvious as the jar is glazed a light pink, turned on its side and having two slots at the top, rather than just one on the back, to represent not just a pig, but the history uniting a ‘pygg bank’ and a ‘piggy bank’. This work presents a delicate design and a deep history that has this connection to an older audience, as Design Indaba (2010) mentions, “Piggy banks are not just for children… They’re functional and decorative home items with a unique history.”

Oki Sato, Pyggy-Bank (2010)

This idea of humour is also seen in Oki Sato’s Talking (2007) through the idea of placing Caricature within every day objects. As you can see there are cute facial expressions on each of the containers, which contains soy sauce, salt and pepper. Sato wanted to reinvent a new way to differentiate between the container, instead of letters.

105_talking_sketch Oki Sato, Talking (2007)

The mouth of each container is in the form of a human mouth, and what it might look like when saying the words of each product in Japanese. What is so interesting is that Sato not only allures us in using humour but gets us to question the norms of today, as he quotes “In an age when we rely increasingly on e-mail for communication, and conversation fades from the dinner table, “talking” subtly links people and things through the power of the texture and sound of spoken Japanese”

Sato’s work, Chu-Keshi (2007) connects to us through understanding and irony. Sato mentions how it is sad to see a new eraser get worn down and dirty, thats why he made this one. It is an eraser that already feels lovingly worn in, making relation to that feeling of buying second hand clothing, and when people make that relation they are less likely to feel upset that it is old in dirty, because that’s the way they bought it.

Oki Sato, Chu-Keshi (2007)


These products Sato is presenting us with are objects we see everyday, but it is the way they are made, so humorous that it engages us to actually see this hidden meaning. It is not only Sato however that uses humour to entice people to see more behind the product. R.J Reynolds designed a coffin shaped cigarettes box, for the humour but also to provoke fear. Similar to Pyggy-Bank (2010) history shapes new meanings for things.


R.J Reynolds, Coffin Box


In contrast in Medicom PharmaL Target Heavy Food, by an Advertising Agency in Germany, uses a touch of hidden humour to reflect the message, which is that plant based ‘Nobilin’ has the power to aid digestion. However this isn’t as obvious as the other works, and it takes longer to understand.


Medicom Pharmal, NOBLIN



All of these products are redesigned from everyday objects, which give us this interrelation. If you think about all of these products as they are normally, or even simple objects they are of course interesting but do not have anything deeper to say.