Learning through a dialogue
with ISSEY MIYAKE designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae
Weaving essence into a vision
The Perspectives series follows Sony designers into a wide range of fields, where they glean new insights
from experts and experienced veterans with diverse ways of thinking.
This edition shines a spotlight on Takayuki Kitahara, a communication designer with a focus on product communication and corporate branding, who paid a visit to the ISSEY MIYAKE headquarters in Tomigaya, Tokyo.
There, Kitahara met with Yoshiyuki Miyamae—a leading member of the ISSEY MIYAKE design team since 2011—to get
unique perspective on exciting innovations in the manufacturing world, born of a union between design and technology.
That initial encounter sparked an ongoing dialogue,
one that has helped Kitahara develop new knowledge and valuable insight.
Designers do more than
just give shape to ideas
Communication Designer Takayuki Kitahara
Most of my work centers on product communication, the process of conveying products and services to the public. Over the past few years, I've also had the opportunity to get involved in corporate branding. Looking back on everything I talked about with Mr. Miyamae, the biggest thing I've gained is a fresh perspective on the roles of design and creativity.
I think that this perspective is inevitable for me because of how the process of creation goes beyond just making things—just like companies have to do more than simply manufacture and sell their products, designers are transitioning into an environment where they need to go beyond simply giving shape to ideas.
It's all about seeing the bigger picture, the deeper questions: why we're making the product in the first place, what kind of story we should build around the concept, and how we should communicate that narrative. Design is becoming an increasingly vital piece of illuminating the essence of things in new, captivating light.
Collaborating for a new value
Mr. Miyamae said something that really grabbed me. "I don't do any sketches myself," he said. "Expressing my ideas too much will end up in limiting the team's collective creativity." When directing a designing team, Mr. Miyamae wants his team to design things that go beyond his imagination—and that focus on liberating creativity, I think, is what lets him get the most out of the team.
Creating a piece of clothing is a multi-step process. You start out with raw materials, which you then turn into thread. From there, you have to decide how to weave or knit the thread together. That sets you up for the last stage, turning the fabric into a piece of clothing. If any one component of that process strays out of alignment, you can’t get the final product you’re aiming for. It mirrors the weaving process; every element is its own strand, and the final product is the composite of every thread. The people on Mr. Miyamae's team take ownership of their respective tasks, investing themselves in ensuring that their strands fall in line with the bigger vision.
In today's world, there's no such thing as manufacturing without collaboration. That was a big takeaway from my conversations with Mr. Miyamae: appreciation of the importance to bring personnel together within the company, outside the company, and across different sectors—engineering, planning, sales, and more—for a shared goal.
A selection of Miyamae's fabric designs for ISSEY MIYAKE
—a cutting-edge material—
resonate with a wider audience
One of my recent projects focuses on Sony's new material, "Triporous", which contains massive quantities of unique nanopores and micropores, which adsorbs odors and a variety of different substances. How can Sony spread those benefits to a broader audience? To reach out on a B-to-B level, and further to the general public, we had to do more than just lay out the technological features and scientific functions. No matter how powerful or groundbreaking a technology might be, to get people to understand how special the innovation is, you need to capture the key features and present them in a simple fashion.
Sony's Triporous™ is a naturally derived porous carbon material made from rice husks
Triporous has a versatile scope of applications in fields ranging from fibers to filters
We wanted the promotion of Triporous to resonate with the audience so they can understand and get interested in it. Therefore, we emphasized on phrases like "An innovative Material for Purifying Water and Air" and the raw material, rice husks, and designed our websites around these characteristics to tell the core characteristics which made this material unique.
Sony has an array of other technologies in its repertoire. Through effective communication, I know that we can showcase the wide-ranging functionality and extraordinary promise of those innovations on a global stage—and help turn them into powerful business drivers for users around the world.
The essence is always the same:
Making clothes that move people
Some clothing manufacturers might have specific targets in mind when they tackle new lineups. Maybe they want to make clothes that fold up into nice, compact sizes to save space. Maybe they want to put the environment first and deliver a set of eco-friendly wear. For Mr. Miyamae, though, there's only one ideal worth thinking about: creating clothes with an emotional impact. Clothes that people can't wait to wear out on the town, clothes with looks that get people talking and spark communication—what matters to Mr. Miyamae is how people feel about what they wear. With the user experience firmly at the foundation of Mr. Miyamae's approach, the designs take on features like travel convenience and environmental friendliness as extensions of that central perspective.
We adopted that same kind of approach in designing the communication for Triporous. Sony products and services only become sources of value when people actually use them. Communication has to set its roots in the user perspective, always keeping real-life usage scenarios in mind.
These days, it's a pretty rare occasion when something completely new emerges—but that doesn't stop Mr. Miyamae from taking up the challenge. He doesn't just focus on creating things that are unique for their own sake, though; he's not after surface-level appeal. He cares about the sustainability of manufacturing, engages with the technologies, rolls the process all the way back to material development, and seeks out novel fundamental concepts to create what today's world needs. Hearing him talk about how he embraces all the tasks at hand, I found myself identifying with that commitment to creativity on a deep, powerful level.
ISSEY MIYAKE INC.
Senior Art Director
Communication Design Group
Editing and layout by AXIS editorial staff
Text by Junya Hirokawa