Naoto Fukasawa: Designing in State of Being ‘Without Thought’

“Thinking needs time, feeling doesn’t need time” – Naoto Fukasawa.

What reactions and experiences do you have to certain everyday objects?

The Japanese design concept of Hari is defined as well-balanced tension. It is a concept that explores surface tension in a physical relation. But in an emotional context it refers to balance and fulfillment. Naoto Fukasawa describes the concept of Hari through this analogy “I could describe it as a very old lady who waters the flowers in her apartment every day as Hari. Her flowers are the most important things for her: giving them water puts her life in balance. It is about tension. The flowers’ need for water is a force towards her body, and she has to push back” (Fukasawa, 2008).

Naoto Fukasawa is a Japanese product designer who graduated from the Tama Art University. His career started in Japan designing electronics for small companies. His impressive knowledge and work led him to the United States to work for the large design company now known as IDEO. He is an influential designer who has created many products within the confines of the Silicon Valley. Today, Fukasawa works independently for his company and various business projects.

Fukasawa’s designs focus on giving everyday objects and their value and affordance. To create and develop a body of work requires time, as only then will the value be realised in the physical object. Fukasawa designed the ‘juice peel’ packaging in 2004, for this body of work he explored the Japanese concept of Hari. The aim of this work was to examine the form of a juice box and to mimic the original tactility of the fruit. By following the Hari concept, Fukasawa was able to find the most suitable way that allowed him to express the object visually, whereby the object can express a meaning. The juice boxes were meant to represent the fruit in a literal sense and exaggerated the activity of drinking from a juice box, whereby one connects to this experience due to the sensitivity he has developed to the form.

Naoto Fukasawa's Banana Juice box: showcasing form, colour and expiry on the packaging.
Naoto Fukasawa’s Banana Juice box: showcasing form, colour and expiry on the packaging.
Strawberry Juice Peel From his body of work.
Strawberry Juice Peel From his body of work.
Another juice box from his body of work, the kiwi fruit box
Another juice box from his body of work, the kiwi fruit box

Fukasawa’s philosophy for designing products is to be in a state of being – without thought. His work is developed based on instinct and awareness. It is a refined way to design within a conceptual framework allowing him to distinguish meanings that relate to the object within its proper situational environment.

The workshops titled ‘without thought’, is a way for Fukasawa to share his design approach to other aspiring designers. The aim of the workshops is to notice that when you see something for the first time it seems to be important, but only later when you use the object that you realise you missed the initial essence of the designed object. He encourages designers to be ‘without thought’ a state he describes as being “unconscious of our movements and the environment that surrounds us”.

To Naoto Fukasawa design means ‘to be aware of our living nature, a pure element in a larger environment’. Creating an object that is situated in its normal environment in a natural state is one that he enjoys. To design as it challenges people’s perceptions as “thinking needs time, feeling doesn’t need time”.