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Interview with Misaki Tanaka

Home > Designer Interviews > Misaki Tanaka

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

Interview with Misaki Tanaka at Thursday 19th of May 2022
Misaki Tanaka
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?
MT: I am not what we call a "trained designer. I make my living by standing in the field of social issues, listening to the voices of those involved in the issues, creating the necessary solutions on the spot, working with those involved to find solutions, and creating solutions. I did not want to be a designer, but rather I became a designer in the broadest sense of the word by continuing to create what was naturally necessary.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
MT: SOLIT is a company started to realize an all-inclusive society in which diverse people and the global environment are taken into consideration. We develop all of our products and designs using inclusive design methods that involve the parties involved in diverse issues from the planning stage.

FS: What is "design" for you?
MT: I believe that design is a "function" that has the power to move people's hearts and change their behavior. We must not forget that it is sometimes a double-edged sword. Depending on how it is used, it can change society and create a better future, but I also think it is a "dangerous thing" that can also be used in a political and violent way.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
MT: I like to design works that expand the possibilities of people's lives, that enable them to do things they could not do before, and that are tied to solving social issues!

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
MT: By my definition of "design," I would say that "human" itself is the most beautiful, delicate and diverse design. Even without using things or creating unnecessary things, I believe that human beings are the ones who have the full potential to move people's hearts and influence their words and actions.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
MT: Our first product was "clothing that anyone can wear. That was the award-winning "SOLIT.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
MT: Of course, I like graphic design, architecture, and digital design, but I also like design for "dialogue" and "communication" that is warm and rich.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
MT: It's when the people you deliberate with involve a diversity of people and include a diversity of values and ideas!

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
MT: No matter how beautiful it looks, we always make sure that it is optimal for the "user. For this reason, we try to involve social minorities and users in the development process from the planning stage.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
MT: It's like flying into a world you don't know like you're on cloud nine!

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
MT: At first, it is "peace of mind" that is produced by using all of my power to the best of my ability. After that, it is a feeling of joy and a desire to brush up still more.

FS: What makes a design successful?
MT: I think it is "keep asking questions. Are you sure you want to do this? Is anyone really happy with this? Is this really good for the earth and the future? And, "Is this really good for the earth and the future? Like this.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
MT: Whether it takes into account diverse people and the global environment is a criterion of good or bad for me.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
MT: Even if there is a client or if we are the main designers, we must always check to make sure that we are not hurting anyone or anything, and sometimes we have a responsibility to point out or stop the client.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
MT: I believe that everyone is a designer in the broadest sense of the word, not just trained designers. I believe that from now on, people will be required to confront unanswerable questions through dialogue with a wide variety of people, rather than simply moving their hands and manufacturing.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
MT: So far, no exhibitions!

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
MT: All designs start from the site of social issues or from the voices of those who are involved in the issues.

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?
MT: Basically, we use the "inclusive design" method. We design through dialogue with diverse social minorities and those who feel challenged.

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?
MT: I live in Tokyo, Japan. Japan's history and culture are based on Eastern thought, so I think it has a great spiritual influence on me. On the other hand, there are many aspects of the culture that are not conscientious about new things. This often makes me feel suffocated.

FS: How do you work with companies?
MT: We have decided that we will only work with companies that want to solve social problems. We try to visit the site together and engage in dialogue on an equal footing.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
MT: Very difficult question.... No matter how much experience you have or how many external evaluations you have received, I believe there is "chemistry". I think it is important to start by getting to know each other, exposing yourselves to each other, before once you get into a business relationship!

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
MT: Basically, we use the "inclusive design" method. We design through dialogue with diverse social minorities and those who feel challenged.(Same answer with 18)

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
MT: Usually I use Note+Pencil, and Mac book air / iPad+Pencil. And My idea come up in Bath room with coffee;) so that's my design items!

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
MT: I wake up in the morning, make a pot of coffee, open the windows and let the light in. After that, I return emails and Slacks at the cafe and talk with my friends and discuss the future. Then from there I do some design work and spend the evening relaxing and reading a book!

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
MT: It would be nice to have the opportunity to interact with diverse people and get to know diverse entities, not just the already finished design!

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
MT: Along with being able to create opportunities to change society and create a better future, this is a heavy responsibility.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
MT: Don't be fooled by something that only looks beautiful!

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
MT: Don't assume everything!

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
MT: mac book, i Pad, Note, Pencil, i Phone, that's all!

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
MT: The team decides on a general schedule, but we allow plenty of time, especially since the design is not created immediately at a set time.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
MT: The shortest takes a week, the longest takes about a year.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
MT: Where do you get your ideas from?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
MT: Meeting people with values and ideologies you have never encountered before.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
MT: NPO/NGO organizations, Social Startups, and the Company who want to solve social issues with us.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
MT: This is a time for everyone to engage in an exciting dialogue prior to the production stage.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
MT: I want to focus on solving diverse social issues through design! I believe that is my mission.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
MT: Always done by teams. Some are graphic designers, some are members who do words and PR design, and others have their own strengths.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
MT: The "SOLIT!" garment that we entered and won an award for this year was created with the involvement of diverse people from the planning stage, which is what we value the most!

FS: How can people contact you?
MT: Mail or social media is better;)

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
MT: I am Japanese, a woman, not a trained designer, a startup, and a person in the field of social issues. This intersectionality has created many barriers at times. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a world that I can see because of this position.


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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