Dec. 2015

Realizing, Not Designing Realizing, Not Designing Realizing, Not Designing

Yanai Sato/Art director, No. 4 Production Studio

I feel like my work is to fill in something that I am trying to make appear.

Yanai Sato

Art director, No. 4 Production Studio

Born in Niigata in 1976, Yanai Sato grew up in Saitama and graduated from the Department of Design at Tokyo University of the Arts, and also from the Tokyo University Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies. After working in an editorial office, she joined the No. 4 Production Studio at Nippon Design Center in 2007. She says that her hobbies include gardening, but she does not spend that much time at it. She considers a lawn more attractive when it has some weeds in it. She has received awards including the DDA Display Design Award and DSA Space Design Award.

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I am art director Yanai Sato. At Nippon Design Center, I work primarily on jobs for Mitsukoshi Isetan. This year is the seventh year of the Christmas Campaign that I have worked on since the beginning. During the first five years, we hired the Finnish writer Klaus Haapeniemi, and this year as well I created a new plan for the Christmas campaign that recently launched.

The 2015 Christmas motif was the Finnish folk dance called Jennka. Jennka was a big hit worldwide, and is a dance done with everyone joined together. I was inspired by this style of dancing that joins people together, and created a simple plan that contained the meaning of “joining the world together through dance” and “joining Mitsukoshi and Isetan together”. At the heart of this plan is the selection of the creators who express the plan in video and graphics. I searched the world for creators who I thought were suitable and approached them directly. At the same time, it was also important that people were actually doing the Jennka dance, so the use of live action video was part of the plan from the beginning. We filmed in a wide range of locations including parks and in front of a Chinese restaurant, and I did quite a lot of Jennka dancing myself together with the rest of the dancers.

I originally decided to attend an art university because of my interest in landscapes and spaces, and the works from my university days were primarily installation-type works. I feel that more than the objects and materials and such, I was more interested in making real something that was already there.

When I first started working and became involved in design, I thought that I would do “design”, complete with the quotation marks. Now I do not think that way, and I see design as a something which is there that I want to make appear – that I want to realize, and I think my work is to fill in that something so everyone can see it. I feel that this connects seamlessly with everything that I have been doing ever since my student days at art university.

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