Esin Creative Lounge Vol.4
Kotoko Koya
23rd October, 2015

Kotoko Koya is a little different from previous Creative Lounge guests in that she is not a designer herself, yet has become very knowledgeable and influential in the world of design, both in Japan and internationally. Kotoko is Japan manager for D&AD, the UK based foundation famous for its design and advertising awards. In parallel she represents a number of well know designers including Neville Brody. In many ways she acts as a bridge between Japan’s creative industries and the rest of the world.

Kotoko’s talk covered many areas. She knew nothing about design when she started her career – and had to learn quickly. One of the first people she represented was graphic designer Ikko Tanaka and travelled with him and for him extensively.

She was joined in the discussion by Toshiya Fukuda (777 interactive) and previous Creative Lounge guest Naomi Hirabayashi. Both have been D&AD jury members and discussed how difficult and challenging it was to be involved in the competition judging – to maintain dialogue with only limited English skills and make an impression. Maybe confidence has a lot to do with it – as an example, Kotoko shared her experience of meeting Neville Brody for the first time at a club. She simply went up and started talking to him. It took some time after that to build up a level of trust before she eventually became his representative.

The conversation ended with a discussion on the meaning of design and how that differs between Japan and the West. In Japan, design is often seen as exterior decoration, but outside of Japan, designers are more concerned with fundamental structure of things. Two hours of insightful conversation to mark our last Creative Lounge for 2015.

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Esin Creative Lounge Vol.3
Norio Nakamura
2nd October, 2015

Norio Nakamura’s work is unobtrusive, but his intellectual point of view makes it distinctive and instantly recognisable. What is the source of his inspiration, and the secret behind his approach to graphic design?

Norio began his career at Sony Music Entertainment, where he was soon transferred from the design department to the planning department. There he produced graphics for Meiwa Denki (a Japanese art unit) and PlayStation games and was able to demonstrate his real talent.

Since he became freelance he has worked on various personal experimental projects, including ‘radical advertisement’ where he created corporate adverts without asking – design thinking which extended well beyond the existing framework.

He referred back to an experience where he dramatically changed people’s perception of a poster by simply moving it away from the restroom, as an important moment in his career. It made him become conscious of the physical aspects and context in design, as well as the hard logic. The true greatness of Norio’s work is in how he redefines the nature of a message and gives it a totally new perspective. He values the idea of ‘instinctive comfort’ in his work and his simple yet inimitable style continues to attract many people all over the world.

Norio also shared his boyhood memories of being an idol fan with a personal photo of himself while he was at high school. Throughout the talk he was unpretentious, and impressive. “We are experiencing the start of a new era,” he said “This is a wonderful opportunity to start something new.”

For our fourth event coming up on Friday, October 23rd, we’ll be welcoming D&AD Japan Representative, Kotoko Koya. Sign up from here


Esin Creative Lounge Vol. 2
Naomi Hirabayashi
4th September, 2015

What is the secret of Naomi Hirabayashi’s design work? With the help of a wide range of visual materials Naomi shared with the audience, the conversation began to give us some answers. We learnt about her interest in the functional beauty of military goods and everyday German products, her strict time management, and even an interesting story of a Karate dojo.

In the first half of the conversation, Naomi told us stories from her early career; her presentations during job hunting and struggling as a low-level worker at Shiseido. Her first big break was winning a D&AD Yellow Pencil, and that gave her the confidence to be a freelancer.

Some of her most notable work comes from her editorial role for women’s magazine “GINZA”. Even though she had zero experience in magazine editing, she turned the magazine to be one of the top women’s magazines in Japan.

Other work discussed included her packaging design for DoCoMo and her art-direction work for the hardware store “GENERAL VIEW” – a diverse range of work that is always exceptional.

She finds inspiration in old design materials and everyday objects. Her military fascination extends to her visits to historical war places including the Stasi prison hospital wing and the secret basement in Tempelhof airport near Berlin.

She said, “when you go to a first-class restaurant, I’d recommend not to look at what’s on the table in front of you, but look up and observe the staff and their service.” The fundamental element of design process is to dig deep into the world. It’s not about making things look pretty.

“The fundamental element of design process is to dig deep into the world. It’s not about making things look pretty.”

For our third event coming up on Friday, October 2nd, we’ll be welcoming graphic designer, Norio Nakamura. Sign up from here


Esin Creative Lounge Vol. 1
Seiichi Hishikawa
24th July, 2015

Esin Creative Lounge is a series of intimate talks hosted by Toru Yoshikawa, Esin Creative Leader and art director. Each month, Toru welcomes a world-class creative practitioner to discuss their personal philosophies and creative processes, to share what motivates and inspires them and to give their insights into the creative economy.

The first Esin Creative Lounge was held on July 24th when Toru’s guest was filmmaker and art director, Seiichi Hishikawa.

Seiichi is accustomed to taking the role of director, cinematographer and editor for most of his film work. Using his creative talents, a single snapshot can be developed into a script for his fictitious cinema. Toru asked what was behind his amazing creativity. In his reply, Seiichi talked about his unique path and his way of life.

Seiichi was born and raised in Keihin Industrial Region, and raised among the craftsmen and manufacturers. Unlike other creators, he chose not to go to a university art school. Instead, he started his career in the General Affairs division of the CBS/Sony Group. Many people were surprised to hear how, starting from such a position, he was able to carve out his unique path as a world-class creative practitioner.

When he first moved to New York City, he was alone with just 900 USD to cover his expenses, yet he persisted in filming in many dangerous areas of the city. “I was so ‘innocent’ at that time,” Seiichi laughed, “everything seemed possible”.

The audience enjoyed listening to Seiichi’s ‘behind the scenes’ stories about famous creators and what led to his winning the Triple Crown at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in 2011 where he was ranked above many well-known, world-class directors. He also told a story about how he had once lost a big job opportunity because of his uncompromising approach which sometimes comes into conflict with Japanese commercial customs. Eventually, however, after the client discovered what had occurred and why he had stuck to his creative decisions, they approached him directly for a new project.

Two hours of conversation were filled with the Seiichi’s revelations about his work, his philosophy and his creative process, which inspired the audience and helped them feel closer to understanding ‘applied creativity’.

Naomi Hirabayashi, art director and graphic designer will be the featured guest at the next Esin Creative Lounge (Vol. 2) on Friday September 4th.

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