Plustic Minustic – Another misspelled name…? But no! The Tokyo-based collaborative centering around Koji Takenaka and Takahide Ishii gave an explanation on their website about new energy being born out of the friction between two opposite things: “The power which attracts others, the power which attracts each other…” That is most probably why they like to mingle the fields of architecture, product and graphic design in a quite playful way. PingMag reports once again on the Tokyo Design Premio in Milan and sat down with Plastic Minustic’s Koji Takenaka.
Written by Jacqueline Felber
Close-up of the “Tablet Chair:” cushion parts serve as modules. Nice!
So, you are an architect doing product design – how come?
As a child I always had the drive to create. When I grew up, I realised I would need the knowledge it takes to become a creative professional and so studied architecture in Tokyo.
What are your biggest creative influences?
After my first degree in Tokyo I went to study at the prestigious Domus Academy in Milan which was a rich experience. People came to the school from all over the world and the wealth of ideas that rose from that was surprising. We worked collaboratively with people from very different backgrounds. I realised that design has no frontiers, be they cultural or ethnic – and this experience is important in how I view life today.
How do the two of you work together with other collaborators?
When we design we have a very strong sense of teamwork which makes us both stronger as designers – and the outcomes are much richer… Also, we work around themes and share our differences when they come up. I think the encounter of different views, namely two opposites as a plus and minus pole, creates new currents. We emphasise human communication, relations of attraction and magnetism, which are all a part of everyday life. With this keywords in mind we create, design and produce.
Close-up of the hospital’s new portal. Plastic!
You just exhibited at the Tokyo Design Premio in Milan. What was the experience to be on such an international catwalk for design?
Superstudio Piu’s Art Space was a great location! On the whole, we welcomed the chance to share opinions between designers and consumers. For us, it was certainly a rare possibility to get direct feedback.
You also showed your brand new Gemini furniture, made from high-tech plastics. You didn’t chose plastics only because of your brand name, did you?
Gemini is a a ‘design plot’ at this point of time. It involves a special relation of light with polyacetal resin. And we are still studying this complex relation…
“Gemini”, maiden not included. Makes a good elbow rest!
I see, so innovation in terms of using new materials would be part of your creation process?
Technique and ideas are of the same importance to us. Through technical processes, new ideas are born and vice versa. They both grow with respect to one another.
Regarding the Tokyo Design Premio: How do you feel about Japan’s cultural status?
Though Japan has excellent designers and architects, only a small number of them go to work abroad or collaborate internationally. But I am positive that this is changing and, also, Japan will spread a handful of vital ideas around the world. At the same time, unfortunately, the richness of craftsmanship and technical expertise is decreasing. Eventually, other cultures will benefit more from our culture than from our know-how.
The “Doppio” sketch: A new take on the love seat.
This adjustable double chair allows you to sit with someone of any height.
How do you see the future in design in, let’s say thirty years?
If we weigh changes in a time frame of thirty years, maybe innovation in itself will not change dramatically. But systems will, as it did with computers. We will have to be more aware of communication issues especially. It is important to consider what will remain with the world in thirty years when designing in the present tense. We tend to think of future generations when we design, how they will communicate and feel, and want to design meaningful objects in this respect.
The major parts of the Plastic Minustic team: Takahide Ishii…
… and Koji Takenaka (the cat isn’t a Plastic Minustic member yet).
Well done! Thank you so much, Plustic Minustic. We want more of your cuddly “Tablet Chairs” and play around with that ball modules!