Ever thought why upon seeing colourful lollies, children will immediately associate their flavour to a specific fruit? Although they taste nothing like the real fruit, kids will labelled them as yellow for banana, green for green apple and red for strawberry. This has to do with our minds linking the similarities between the colours of lollies and fruits. The Juice Skin series, designed by Naoto Fukasawa, explore the same concept to stimulate our senses and memories.
Naoto Fukasawa is a great Japanese product designer born in 1956. Fukasawa was a student at Tama Art University and graduated in 1980. His career as a product designer started at Seiko Epson, where he designed products using micro technology. In 1989, he moved to the United States and worked for the design firm ID Two, which is now called IDEO. Fukasawa then returned to Japan in 1996, and launched the IDEO Tokyo office in parallel to being a design consultant to major Japanese companies. (Herman Miller 2015).
Extracted from an interview with Designboom Magazine, Naoto Fukasawa described his style as very minimalist, clean and simple. He is fascinated with people’s subconscious behaviours and thinks that they are hints to designing objects that would address these unconscious behaviours and simultaneously merge in with the environment. Fukasawa states that ‘This ‘unthinking’ state makes actions smooth. Whereas, if we think closely about what we’re doing, our actions become awkward or wooden. Designs that make us feel this kind of simplicity don’t stand out, but entwine with people’s actions and with the environment, too.’ (Herman Miller 2015). Exploring this idea further, Fukasawa conducts workshops called ‘Without Thought’, from which he came up with his idea of the wall-mounted CD player. Designed for MUJI in 1999, this abstract and formal metaphorical CD player is one of his most popular creations; his other prominent work includes the Infobar Mobile Phone, Déjà-vu Chair family, the home appliances brand ±0 (plusminuszero) and the Juice Skin series.
The Juice Skin containers were designed in 2004 for the Haptic – Awakening the Senses Exhibition in Tokyo. The exhibition, produced by designer Kenya Hara, aimed at awakening the human sensors and make people sense or perceive things with their senses (Hara K. 2004). For this exhibition, Naoto Fukasawa created 6 different juice packages: banana, strawberry, kiwi, soy milk, peach and green apple juice. Each package has a different design with the colours and texture relating to the corresponding fruit (BEACH 2014). In Hara’s book Designing Design, where we can see the different project exhibited, he describes the juice packages as superb and mentions that the materials used convey the feeling of holding
the real fruit and ‘are not only external stimulation but also massive amounts of memories awakened by stimulation.’ (Hara K. 2004).
At first glance, the juice packages appear innovative and fun. The consumer can immediately grasp the concept behind this design and obviously the content of it (BEACH 2014). When we analyse it more, we can see that the metaphor used here is very simple and almost natural; it makes more sense to have banana juice in a container that’s yellow and feel like a banana rather than in one that’s purple. By making the outside of the containers represent the inside, our eyes see the juice boxes as fresh, healthy, tasteful and natural. Exploring our senses further, Fukasawa mimicked the textures of the real fruit on the containers so that when we touch them, we get the impression that it is the real fruit. This notion taps into our memories and we kind of get the taste of the juice without even drinking it, as we instantly recall the times we ate the real fruit and how it tasted.
The package of a product is definitely one of the first things that would attract a customer. Similarly to Naoto Fukasawa’s Juice Skin design, other designers have also thought about designing a product using metaphor. Igor Mitin, a designer based in Melbourne, experiment with the same concept by designing a series of Zen perfumes. The bamboo, stone, and seashell fragrance bottles are design so that they look and feel real, organic and natural. Here again, just by looking and holding the bottles, we already know what to expect of the smell of the perfume. The use of formal metaphor here is a great way to make the unknown, such as the smell or taste of an object, known simply by stimulating our senses and memories.