Interview with Jun Yasumoto
Interview with Jun Yasumoto, Japanese and French industrial designer living and working in Paris.
TB: Hello Jun, how are you?
JY: I am fine thanks.
TB: Can you introduce yourself?
JY: I am a Japanese and French industrial designer living and working in Paris. I have been working for Jasper Morrison since 2002, and at the same time, I developed my own practice by working for my own clients.
TB: How did you start? What is your philosophy?
JY: I grew up in the 80’s in Tokyo, during Japan’s most prosperous times, and I was very receptive and fascinated by all these new products and cars that I was constantly exposed to. There were all these nice things from Sony, Yamaha, Canon, etc., which looked very exciting to me and I quickly understood I wanted to create such objects. At 18 years old, I moved to Paris to study design at ENSCI – Les Ateliers in Paris. After graduating I started working in Jasper’s office in Paris, where I mainly have been working on furniture projects. One of the things I learnt there and which is central for my approach to design is that an object, and more specifically a piece of furniture, should have a presence, a character. Nowadays everyone wants to design simple things, but what’s difficult is to give a character to a shape. There are many recipes for designing a simple object, but there are none to give it a presence.
TB: Would you like to talk about one of your recent projects?
JY: I recently presented during the last Salone in Milan a family of shelves and consoles called Piani, which I designed for Fucina, a small high-end steel furniture company from the Brianza area. For me it has been the perfect example of a fluid and fruitful collaboration with a manufacturer. Sometimes, the design process happens to be very enjoyable, with immediate understanding from both sides, and things seem to roll out quite naturally. Here I would put this mostly on art director Maddalena Casadei and Fucina’s owner Mr.Lidi’s credit. On top of it, the pieces that Fucina produced had a manufacturing quality that I had never seen before for steel. What’s actually pleasing is that when a collaboration is that fluid and enjoyable, it often translates into the object’s general expression.
TB: What is the major challenge while designing and creating a new product?
JY: I would say that despite the fact that there is a lot of work and efforts put into the design process of a product, I always try to make sure that this tension is not perceptible at the end. Being able to have enough distance with the object you design while you are working on details that are sometimes below the millimeter scale is a crucial point. To contain a lot of attention and work within a relaxed looking object is what I try to aim for.
TB: Do your French and Japanese cultures influence your work?
JY: I guess it does, but I grew up in a very good mix of the 2 cultures, so when I design something I never think « this is coming from my French (or Japanese) side ». Usually I notice those eventual influences afterwards, when I have the product sitting in front of me. But now that I talk about it, I wonder if Italy hasn’t got an even stronger influence on me!
TB: What are your biggest influences in design?
JY: Jasper Morrison is beyond an influence for me. I learnt pretty much everything about designing furniture at his contact, and observing the way he works helped me building my own approach of the profession. Then I would say it’s a mix of a lot of things, random objects or images I come across in my daily life, Vico Magistretti’s lighthearted approach, Danish furniture from the 20th century, some childhood design fantasies such as Marcello Gandini’s cars, etc.