--Mr.Nagoya, you were raised up in this area?
(Hideyoshi Nagoya, CEO of h concept) I was born at a hospital in Kanda, in the family of a brush factory that lasted for over hundred years. I'm a genuine shitamachi (old down town) person who went to Senso-ji Kindergarten and grew up bear Sumida River.
I studied space & interior design at university. I also was an assistant for Danish designer Per Schmolcher during my university years, who worked for display designs for prestigious retail stores. He was a gentle, modest man, and would keep smiling whenever I made mistakes. "Nagoya-san, it's the surrounding air, atmosphere that accentuates something" He would always say.
After graduating school I worked at publicity department for a large retail store, but I quit because my father asked me to join the family business. It was a very traditional small factory run by the family, so I tried to adapt what I learned, design in particular, to increase the sales and let the business last.
My family had this idea too, but when factories make products they do it because "they have the machines to manufacture it": But do the consumers really need it? I wanted to design products that people would really want, so along helping my family business I designed for household goods making company. Through these projects, I met fantastic product designers and felt respect for them, and started to feel I should show thankfulness to them. That is the main reason I started my own company "h concept" and own brand "+d (plus dee)" .
"+d" is a creators' platform that realizes designer's message toward world through product design.
--Besides "+d", do you have any other design activities you are in to?
I have been involved in "Monozukuri Collaboration Project" run by Sumida Ward since the beginning. One of the most impressive projects was making a Nikki candy with a candy factory. They told me their Nikki candies were the best and proud of it, so to prove their handmade qualities, we made three ranges of taste; mild, medium, and strong.
"Factory Robot" was a fun one too. When I went to a metal factory, I found a tiny metal robot standing on the factory director's table. He just made it for fun, but at the moment I saw it I thought "This is it!". But we made it a bit handsome and in shape (laughs) with a product designer, and designed a metal craft kit you could assembly in about 30 minutes from a single metal board.
These days, hotels are chosen not because of pricing, but for the staff's friendliness, and the story behind it. In the same way, we thought we need a place to share the stories of our own brands and products we give design consulting to. This is why we opened our design product shop "KONCENT".
--The products displayed inside the shop are designed in a sophisticated manner, but also has humor that makes customers smile.
When you say "designed products", you get this posh and highend feeling, but we want to communicate in a more down to earth, humanistic way, being true from the bottom of the heart. We want to share friendliness and humor to the people through our products.
I think this is what you call the "shitamachi attitude". People living in this area is likely to think "I want to create what's worth owing the right money" or "We want to look into each other's eyes and talk straight forward."
--Do you also design products?
I am not a designer, but I do think I am designing. I overview the whole creative process, while product designers work on specific details. I think we have a good balance and relationship to make the best.
What I am interested about is who uses / how they use the products rather than who made it. The products come to life when it is actually used. To realize this we have designers and factories as supporting roles, and through collaborating them I believe we could make inspiring products.