Products by Naoto Fukasawa

Tokyo-based designer Naoto Fukasawa is well-known for his meticulous attention to detail and keen observation. His latest design, Asari Chair by Herman Miller, is a harmonious marriage of beautiful sculpture and everyday function.

Fukasawa was born in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, in 1956 and graduated from Tama Art University in 1980. His career began at Seiko Epson, where he designed products such as wrist TVs and mini printers using micro-technology.

In 1989, he joined the San Francisco design firm ID Two, the predecessor to IDEO. There, he worked on several products related to Silicon Valley’s computing and electronics industry. He was also involved in the development of a design language and design concept for Apple.

In 1996, he returned to Japan to start and head up IDEO’s Tokyo office. In addition to acting as a design consultant to many major Japanese companies, he also held a series of workshops for young designers called “without thought.” The idea behind them, says Fukasawa, “is that people think that design is something that appeals to their emotions, but in fact people are linked to things every day in their environments, unconsciously, without even being aware of it. This ‘unthinking’ state makes actions smooth. Whereas, if we think closely about what we’re doing, our actions become awkward or wooden. Designs that make us feel this kind of simplicity don’t stand out, but entwine with people’s actions and with the environment, too.”

It was during the first workshop that Fukasawa came up with the idea for a wall-mounted CD player that was released by MUJI to global acclaim. In 2004, it was selected for the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“Design means observing objectively.”

- Naoto Fukasawa

He established Naoto Fukasawa Design in 2003, counting the INFOBAR mobile phone and +0, an electrical household appliance and sundries brand, as early successes.

Fukasawa was awarded the Isamu Noguchi Award in 2018. During his time in America early in his career, he became impressed by Noguchi’s forms, basing some of his artistic pursuits on the concept of “hari,” or “well balanced tension.”

“We smile at the chair and the chair
smiles back.”

Fukasawa’s connection to Noguchi and intrinsic belief that beauty is function are evident in his launch of the Asari Chair by Herman Miller. Combining the sculpture-like form of his design with Herman Miller’s ergonomic prowess, the chair is unlike anything else on the market.

Fukasawa still enjoys working with young designers and currently teaches or lectures at several institutions, including Musashino Art University, Tama Art University, and Tokyo University Graduate School.