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Experts Discuss the Future of Japanese Product Design


Nov. 18, 2016

On Thursday, November 3, 2016, guests converged at the Official Residence of the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles for a peek into the future of Japanese product design. The Consulate General of Japan hosted a panel discussion featuring University of Tokyo professor, Shunji Yamanaka; GK Design International, Inc. President, Norman Kerechuk; and independent product designer, Mariko Higaki Iwai. Yamanaka and Kerechuk presented their portfolios and philosophies while Higaki Iwai moderated the panel.

In the panel discussion, Yamanaka described his relationship with industrial design over the years and highlighted his research on improving human prosthetics and modes of mobility through prototyping. In looking to the future, Kerechuk explained that “design will only support the values of a society,” and predicted that any repetitive/robotic motion will likely be automated in the future.

When asked about Japanese design, Yamanaka was hesitant to offer a concrete definition, stating that he had never thought of any of his work as “Japanese” design. On the other hand, Kerechuk explained that attention to detail was characteristic of Japanese design. Both agreed that as long as there was Japanese culture, there would be Japanese design, although they did note that Japanese designers are now all over the world and it would be difficult to pinpoint what products were actually Japanese. Higaki Iwai agreed with the two veteran designers, but also posited that perhaps there is a need for branding Japanese design in order for Japanese designers to take pride in their work.

For more information about Shunji Yamanaka, click here:

For more information about Norman Kerechuk, click here:

For more information about Mariko Higaki Iwai, click here:


Presentation by Professor Shunji Yamanaka Presentation by Norman Kerechuk
Panelists in discussion (from left to right):
Mariko Higaki Iwai, Shunji Yamanaka, Norman Kerechuk
Panelists with Consul General Akira Chiba


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