The zesty Japanese creative’s ingenious yet simplistic concepts are captivating and inspiring in equal measure

DEC 20, 2019 | By Sakshi Rai
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Cabbage chair was crafted as a challenge to use discarded pleated paper, a byproduct of pleated fabric production. It was part of the XXIst Century Man exhibition curated by Issey Miyake in Tokyo; The Tokyo Tribal furniture collection features stools, chairs, tables and shelves for Singapore based design firm Industry+. The compact and simplistic design is made using bamboo rattan, solid oak and volcanic sand plaster; Key-calendar, designed by Sato and produced by I.D.E.A International, builds on the expression of opening a new door everyday, with key slots for each day and month of the year; Fadeout-chair, made for Museum of Arts and Design, NY, appears to float atop its clear acrylic legs
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Soft Pond is a range of small crystal trays fashioned for Atelier Swarovski Home. Inspired by the saturation and deepening of hues as seen in water bodies, the trays comprise gradually tapering layers that create a gradient effect; Suzu is a set of five, dark blue porcelain lids in different sizes for Sèvres. These produce clear ringing sounds on touch; Thin, steel rods of varying heights that resemble a prairie field were conceptualised as fixtures for the iconic Bilbao bag at the 24 Issey Miyake store in the Japanese capital

A trip to the Milan Design Week in 2002 as an architectural student was Oki Sato’s first exposure to the unrestricted spirit of participating creatives and their playfully designed products, graphics and exhibitions. After graduating from Waseda University in Tokyo, an eager Sato returned to Italy in 2003 to showcase creations from his newly launched firm.

The brand, christened Nendo— Japanese for clay—accurately depicts the Tokyo based designer’s flexible design approach. In fact, a piece of advice by Italian designer Luca Nichetto to “not overthink design” is one he cherishes to this day. So, Sato colours outside the lines and remains unconfined by any one style. His brand focuses on creating simple yet well thought out solutions for everyday situations.

He is renowned for his collaborations with boldface names such as Kartell, Swarovski and Isse Miyake to develop furniture, interiors and accessories that have a minimalistic appeal. This fluidity however does not trickle into Sato’s personal life. A creature of habit—he loves his standard white shirt and black pants, drinking coffee in his favourite mug and most of all, looks forward to walking his dog Kinako.