November 17, 2007

Featured designer: Naoto Fukusawa

The leading industrial designer in Japan, Naoto Fukusawa is best known abroad for his surprisingly ethereal doughnut-shaped humidifier. If sustainable products can be broken down into the eternal and the biodegradable, Fukusawa's fall into the first category: His commitment to innovative, multifunctional, classically minimalist designs means that consumers can make do with fewer objects. A former designer for IDEO, he launched his own company, Plus Minus Zero (also spelled ±0), in 2004, and continues to design products prolifically for other companies, including the popular Infobar phone for KDDI, and furniture for B&B Italia.

His guiding metaphor, according to a fascinating profile in Metropolis magazine, is an umbrella leaning against a wall, its end held in place between two tiles. Based on that image, he's developed a philosophy of "without thought": products that are ingeniously simple and intuitive. And there's more and better to come: the NYT announced that Fukusawa is working with Matsushita to develop “intelligent walls” — modular panels, each with a functional purpose such as lighting, heat, or sound.

(images via Metropolis)

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