I recently wrote a short article on what I believe to be the truly important aspects of product story telling. In the article I mention how the design, development, materials etc…are a huge part of the story. The journey is part of the process. This is what I believe to be the true story of the product.
Hiroki Nakamura has been someone i’ve looked up to for quite sometime, as he’s someone that values the art of story telling through his products. Every season Hiroki writes a dissertation detailing the story behind his latest collection. I believe last season was about degradation, and how time and usage effects products. He wanted to create something that became even better with age. This season, Hiroki struggled a little. He eventually however came to the realization that his journey through the year, having traveled everywhere from America, to Italy, Japan and England, the people he’d met on his travels, the team behind his products, these people, these experience, were the story.
Read Hiroki’s dissertation on his latest collection, below.
Once every six months, I’ll put together a season collection to express what I currently want to create. Presenting the collection as an exhibition, linking the seasonal themes and ideas with the products, my vision is brought to life and communicated to an audience. In that sense, there is a significant importance when considering the concept for each season. At times, the ideas or themes will come together first to drive the entire design process. On other occasions, they will be recognized during the developmental process. Though rare, this season is an example of ideas not coming forth spontaneously — much to my own anguish.
In fact, it was already early winter, with fabric designs and material development nearing completion, the collection pieces beginning to really take shape. I was assailed with worry, thinking “This isn’t good – less than two months left and nothing’s coming to me.” With the time running out, I eventually confided in my wife. “Well, the design part’s pretty much done. If there’s any searching left, perhaps it needs to be done within yourself?” “Perhaps so,” I replied, calming myself down. It was then we both decided to look at some photos we’d taken over the last few months. Though originally intended for a separate project, they vividly rekindled my memory of the design process.
It all began with my inspiration trip to the UK in July. Then, there was that August road trip over to America’s West Coast. Also in August, was the Los Angeles kick-off meeting with the design team. Ah, then there was that gathering in Paris to discuss development of a special fabric. And next — a brief trip to Seattle, Washington. September saw me at the Arno riverside in Florence, deciding this season’s color palette with the team. I then went on yet another road trip to speak with a European supplier, followed by an excursion to Florida in search of further inspiration.
And how could I forget that wonderful team meeting nearby Italy’s Lake Garda, where the mock-up was done? Come November, I had a photo-shooting with our Tokyo team in California. From there, it was just a short hop to go discover the Sequoia National Park. In Japan, the sales team and I presented The Traveling Trailer event in Sendai and back in Tokyo, atop the tatami mats of my atelier, we had a design meeting. And then finally one more, again in Los Angeles.
Looking through a mountain of photos and contact sheets, each facet of the design process — and the moments of inspiration therein — sprang back to life, making me aware of the unbelievable wealth of stories I had amassed.
Indeed, I had spanned the entire globe four and a half times in a simple matter of months. And so I wondered — could the journey my team and I shared somehow be communicated to our audience? Though the snapshots, taken with a compact 35mm camera, were far removed from the realm of fancy or artsy — the faces and scenery captured along the way were all too authentic. I have fond memories of the moments buying and listening to old records and CDs — staring at the album artwork while completely engaged in the artists’ soundscapes.
Whether in the liner notes or back covers, the photos and images featured were intimately genuine. So I asked my wife if we could use the photos to tell the story of this season’s collection — to which she delightfully agreed… “Dissertation on revealing the practice.” I hope in sharing this exceptionally real design process, our customers can continue to find even more enjoyment from our products. Thank you.
– Hiroki Nakamura
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