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Interview with Akiko Kanna

Home > Designer Interviews > Akiko Kanna

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Akiko Kanna (AK) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Akiko Kanna by clicking here.

Interview with Akiko Kanna at Tuesday 1st of May 2018
Akiko Kanna
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
AK: I feel like I aways wanted to be an artist but didn’t know exactly which area of art i was most passionate about. I started playing piano when I was 5 and so I did have an idea of being a pianist since an early age but I guess I didn’t have enough passion to continue. After that, I started studying fine arts drawing and then with this skill I came across to becoming a Graphic Designer while in college in London. I remember I was really excited and open-minded because I could get access to most subject areas through design.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
AK: StudioKanna is a graphic design studio specialized incorporate identity and print design. I graduated with a B.A. in Graphic Designfrom Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design.I worked as editorial designerat British style magazine Dazed and Confused, then joineddesign studio North,famous for corporate identity work. Since setting up my own studio, my approachis based on finding simple but meaningfulsolutions for communication needs. I am also interested in pursuing self-initiated projects,collaborating with others, organizing exhibitions,and pursuing design solutions forregional developmentwith local communities.

FS: What is "design" for you?
AK: My idea of design is how to most effectively communicate with people.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
AK: I enjoy Corporate Identity works most, because I can think about design in a wider vision.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
AK: I really appreciate the work from two schools, Bauhaus and HFG of Ulm. These classic legendary schools always remind me the principles of design and what beauty of design should be, combining simplicity and better functionality at the same time.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
AK: I started with a Corporate identity project for a friend of mine’s company.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
AK: I like mixing and matching different interesting materials, environments and technology.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
AK: When I hear good feedback from clients.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
AK: “Simple communication”

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
AK: I am really excited at the beginning of a work, I try to explore as many opportunities as possible.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
AK: I always get lots of confidence and that makes me feel really good.

FS: What makes a design successful?
AK: Finding the solution with taste in a simplest way as possible.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
AK: “Simple communication” comes first for me, because in my opinion good design doesn’t need to tell too much.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
AK: I feel like a designer contributes to society mostly by making communication easier thus improving the way people understand each other.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
AK: I think design will focus more on originality and on the contributions of the individual rather the improvements by technology or software.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
AK: My last exhibition was the charity event “1-2-3” in London. Hopefully I can collaborate with Italian designers in Italy in the future.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
AK: Usually I draw my inspiration from what I see or feel everyday.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
AK: My style of design always aims to express "simple but meaningful solutions for your communication needs" and I try to convey the idea without many descriptions.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
AK: I am living in Italy now. Before that, I have lived in London and Tokyo for a very long time. I learned many design directions and styles through cultural differences. Every experience contributed to my style and creativity, adding depth to my originality.

FS: How do you work with companies?
AK: I always try to be as professional as pebble, trying to understand the company’s mission, identity and needs before starting a design plan.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
AK: For a big company - find a designer that can build a solid concept.For a small company - find a designer that has more character and enjoys originality.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
AK: Every project is different, but I guess I try to find a good concept looking from different angles and aspects.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
AK: (1) Original 1972 Munich Olympics A0 Swimming Poster(2) Eames Plastic Side Chair(3) Uten.Silo(4) Elephant stool by Sori Yanagi(5) Eames Hang-It-All

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
AK: Ideally, morning coffee - make a plan for a day - start work - have lunch - start work - finish early.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
AK: I suggest to try working with people or studios that share a similar style of yours and learn how they deal doing business with clients. It is very valuable if you wish to have your own studio in the future.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
AK: Positive - I never get bored as every work is different from the previous one.Negative - You always tend to have critic eye on design whenever you go and whatever you see.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
AK: “Simple communication”

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
AK: Problem solving is really important, also adding character and personality to the design in a balanced manner as required by the client.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
AK: My go-to tools are Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and some others. And of course my collection of design books.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
AK: I try not to be carried away with continuously doing the almost same thing. Which means if I find myself in a creativity loop I try I have a break and approach the problem from a different angle, increasing my productivity.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
AK: It depends on the project, but usually in 1-2 weeks I can find the direction I would like to pursue. After that it really depends on the client so I can’t really say.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
AK: I get asked a lot, how do I feel about cultural differences and how these experiences effect my design style.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
AK: I guess my works for big companies, such as Coca-Cola Japan or Dunlop.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
AK: I had the pleasure of doing business with Coca Cola Japan, DUNLOP, Toyota Motor Europe, Panasonic Mobile Communications Co., Ltd, Saga Prefectural Government.Some more recent clients are UNIVERSAL MUSIC LLC, UDS Ltd., Phaidon Press Limited, Sony’s Fashion Entertainments.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
AK: I guess I like a design work which encompasses different media, not just on a 2d computer screen, for example environmental graphic which somehow interacts and connects with and to people in a tangible and sometimes unexpected way.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
AK: My goal is to create a overseas branch for my studio.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
AK: I mostly work by myself, but sometimes I can work as team specifically for a project.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
AK: I have some works-in-progress but I guess you’ll have to see the finished product when it’s ready.

FS: How can people contact you?
AK: The best way of contacting me is by sending me an e-mail.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
AK: I guess this will do for now.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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