Jan. 2015

Making Myself an Empty Vessel Making Myself an Empty Vessel Making Myself an Empty Vessel

Okazaki Yuka/Designer, Hara Design Institute

I think that if I accept unknowns and chance encounters, they will lead me to something at the end.

Okazaki Yuka

Designer, Hara Design Institute

Okazaki Yuka was born in Tokyo in 1987 and completed a Master’s degree at Musashino Art University. She has been working in the Hara Design Institute at Nippon Design Center since 2012. In addition to work for exhibitions including Architecture for Dogs and the Takeo Paper Show “SUBTLE”, she also works in package design and signage design. She is a winner of the 61st Asahi Advertising Award.

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Hello. I am Okazaki Yuka. When I was in my third year of university, I was introduced by a senior classmate to a part-time job where I helped with work at the Hara Design Institute. As I worked in a supporting role assisting the institute staff, I felt that their flexible way of working that was unrestricted by clients, media, or means of communication was a good match for my personality. After completing graduate school, the institute was hiring and I applied and got the job.

At the Hara Design Institute, I have been responsible for basic graphic design for signage designs, package designs, paper sample books, and other projects, and have also been involved with several exhibitions including Tokyo Fiber Senseware, HOUSE VISION, Architecture for Dogs, and SUBTLE. The exhibition work was not limited to the usual range of designer duties. I performed many different functions as needed at the time, such as acting as a go-between for the participating creators and exhibition directors, space design, installation checks for devices and other equipment, book design and editing, and overall project progress management.

The 2012 Architecture for Dogs exhibition made a particularly large impression on me. Because the number of staff involved was small, as an assistant I was involved with all of the functions mentioned above. Director of the institute Kenya Hara says, “When a designer can create designs, that is only to be expected; when a designer can do other things, then he really becomes a person.” Through this experience, I feel that I am now more capable of successfully launching a project and returning it safely to earth. Of course, my abilities are still limited and there is still much room for me to develop further.

In all things, I have no strong preferences or attachments, and I think of myself as being an empty vessel. In my work as well, I accept whatever my antennae encounter. As I allow myself to be pulled along without protest, I arrive naturally at a destination. When producing designs as well, I value the chance encounters and unknowns that I unwittingly produce whenever I move my hands. As a result, my solution to a given problem often deviates from the solution that was requested. However I am fortunate to be in an open-minded environment where people will may find my solution interesting. This makes me very happy. My everyday work is mostly centered on exhibitions, and I do none of what is called “client work” at all. With no precedents to refer to, and having to think up even the methodology by myself, I suppose my daily work could be described as “hard”. However it is precisely because of these unrestricted conditions that I am able to enjoy myself. A while ago, the same was true of my graduation project in graduate school. For this project, I went to libraries and secondhand book stores and collected hundreds of mathematics, physics, biology, art, and other drawings of any and all kinds and collected them in a single volume. I felt that rather than making something that led to a particular conclusion, I had created a collection of materials for the purpose of long and extensive thinking.

Beginning from this April, I will go to the Danish design company Kontrapunkt for training. This is the continuation of an exchange program in which employees of Nippon Design Center and Kontrapunkt spend six months at the other company. When studying abroad, I do not set any specific objectives to achieve. To the contrary, I think that if I make myself an empty vessel and wholeheartedly accept everything I encounter, then it will lead me to something at the end. People often talk about “journeys to find themselves”, but in my case this is more of “a journey to lose myself”. Without any destination to arrive at, I only decide the direction to continue walking in. In the end, maybe I just like to go on thinking.

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