Inspiration from the streets:
Drifting moods, flowing thoughts
In Perspectives, we visit people who are experts in their fields,
interact with diverse ways of thinking, and learn through creation.
Our guest for Volume 4 is the movie producer Genki Kawamura. Starting with “Densha Otoko (Train Man)” in 2005, Kawamura has produced hit after hit, with movies such as “Kokuhaku (Confessions)”, “Moteki (Love Strikes!)” and “Kimi no Na wa (Your Name),” and made his debut as a novelist in 2012 with “Sekai kara neko ga kieta nara (If Cats Were to Disappear from the Earth).” Since then, he has been expanding his artistic horizons to include picture books and advertisements. Having interacted with the thought process of a hit maker who grasps how people feel and continues to build a generation, creative director Yasuhide Hosoda took to the streets to capture the invisible “collective unconscious” and snap some photos.
Taking to the streets
to get closer to people
After listening to Kawamura, I felt that my work has a lot in common with his, from the perspective of "grasping, or capturing, how people feel." Whether it’s a design that I've handled up to this point, or a design that I'm working on for the future, I think it comes down to getting closer to people. As a designer, this is something I've always felt to be a challenge. That’s why I go out into the streets. The market for something, whether it’s a product or a service, isn’t in the office where I work. The vast majority of things are going to be used by people in the course of their daily lives. If you think about it like that, you can get higher accuracy by putting your ideas into the market and testing them there. That’s why I want to always emphasize focusing on the streets and people’s minds.
Yasuhide Hosoda, Creative Director at Sony Corporation
Design verification out
in the streets
Several years ago, when I was in charge of a product design, another designer from the team and I took two sketches, Idea A and Idea B, and set out into the streets. We compared the people coming and going with the sketches of a product geared towards those young users. We looked at one person, and then another, and wondered if they would use the product. We considered which of the products would fit the place we were at. When you’re out in the market and you look at a sketch you made in the office, there are definitely times when you think that it doesn’t really fit. About two years ago, I came up with such a wonderful design that I personally thought it should be stored at the MoMA. However, when I confidently told people I met in the street about the design, they didn’t get it at all. I then discarded the entire design and started thinking about it again from scratch. I learned that even if you think a design is wonderful and worthy of a prize, it doesn’t mean that people will want it. In the past, when I was talking with people from a Silicon Valley venture business, the phrase “design verification” came up, which means proving that your design works by finding out how third parties perceive it. I felt that Kawamura talking about how he “always holds 200 review meetings in his head” is close to this, with his anecdote that he verifies his work over and over in his mind until it gets released to the public. Kawamura reviewing things in his head is one method of design verification. Personally, I go out into the streets to check if my designs work.
People pull their feelings
along with themselves as they come and go
The “collective unconscious” is the mood that hangs in the air of the streets, and the thoughts flowing through them—it's what the atmosphere of an era feels like, and you definitely can’t look it up on the Internet. The photos I took in the Shibuya streets show very ordinary people. The streets are full of events at the individual level. They can be events like company employees and students having been told something by someone, or people who work in shops thinking that the day's customers were nice. People pull these small feelings along with themselves as they come and go. I feel that within the collective unconscious, things such as the small feelings each person has, as well as the unintentional, unfiltered thoughts when they snap out of their daydreams, are all mixed together. Their true and instinctive feelings, not the faces they put on in public, have accumulated in the streets and are floating around our feet. That’s what I picture with these visuals. I imagined what it would look like in a future where the feelings flowing from people were made visible in the streets.
Friday night: Waiting at the light 11:54 p.m.
Next to the pedestrian bridge: Wandering aimlessly 8:24 p.m.
Meeting: Shibuya 6:28 p.m.
Going home after a shift: Convenience store 2:15 a.m.
The work at Sony Design goes beyond getting a passing grade. It's the same as “a strawberry atop a shortcake,” which was mentioned in a section of Kawamura’s book “Shigoto (Work).” where he had a conversation with Shigesato Itoi. By having a strawberry on top, the cake is more enticing and looks even more delicious. You can get close to people by focusing on their thoughts wandering without destinations, and using those thoughts as hints to imagine future stories. Design is an enjoyable job where I am held accountable, in the sense that it's a designer's job to grasp trivial things wandering the streets—the collective unconscious—and turn those things into the unexpected.
Movie producer and novelist
Creative Director at DBD Office,
Creative Center, Sony Corporation
Layout by Editing Department, AXIS
Text by Junya Hirokawa