Professor Shunji Yamanaka Presents at ArtCenter College of Design
Nov. 18, 2016
On Friday, November 4, 2016, students, faculty, and other guests sat in for a lecture by University of Tokyo professor, Shunji Yamanaka at ArtCenter College of Design’s Los Angeles Times Media Center, a special event made possible by a collaboration between ArtCenter College of Design and the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles in cooperation with JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles. The lecture which offered a glimpse into Yamanaka’s portfolio as told through a series of vignettes, opened with short remarks from the president of JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, Yuko Kaifu, and was moderated by independent product designer, Mariko Higaki Iwai.
Yamanaka spoke about his career which began at Nissan Motor Design Center where he designed the Infiniti Q45. Yamanaka then explained how he became an independent industrial designer producing concepts for watches, mobile phones, furniture, robots, and notably the interface of mass-transit smartcard machines now ubiquitous in Japan and other countries. Yamanaka focused the latter part of his presentation on how he became interested in improving upon the design of prosthetics, especially for athletes. Rather than simply drawing multiple iterations of the various design concepts, Yamanaka looked toward prototyping to allow for real-world testing.
Yamanaka’s most recent work focuses on using 3D-printed protoypes of mobile robots. His 3D-printed designs aim to challenge two ideas: that machines are usually assembled piece by piece and that 3D printers are for static objects. It was evident that those two concepts could now be debunked from Yamanaka’s presentation, with his prototype robot model accompanying him to help make the point.
After the lecture, Yamanaka was on hand to take questions from the audience. ArtCenter’s students eagerly awaited their turn to ask the professor about his work and any practical advice he may have had for them.