point of view by pablo deferrari
You see the Japanese make it known that they have no interest in borrowing from their centuries of rich history to influence their designs fit for the western world. I know this because we had a very old Japanese cutlery firm named Seki come out to our University to sponsor a project for our Industrial Design department.
And while some of us were busy taking a crash course in Japanese history to impress our guests and fuel our designs for them, they wanted no part of it. What they were after concerned our bits from our short but trend-setting history to come up with a design language they would run with and manufacture. It took that speech in broken English by a Japanese executive dressed in pink and green golf pants, neon orange Polo shirt, and bowling shoes to understand their shtick...after that, I knew everything about them.
That's when the game changed...forever. Designers were now expected to stuff 10 pounds of shit into a 1 quart sushi rice container. The idea was to provide the customer with "the look for less" version of luxury cars from Europe, and they won the game, temporarily, with cheaper manufacturing tactics and materials, a reduction in labor force, and sheer volume. And designers like myself know that one of the hardest things in life is to produce savvy, innovative designs at rock-bottom prices...a hard position to be in.
"...the Japanese employ groups of pimple-faced, video game playing dweebs with chronic masturbation syndrome and an addiction to Red-bull..."
When all was said and done, their killer product was launched in 1978 to an eager audience who dreamt of owning a Porsche, but couldn't swing it on a bank teller's wages.
Luckily, for the moment, the Japanese employ groups of pimple-faced, video game playing dweebs with chronic masturbation syndrome and an addiction to Red-bull, who still live with their parents to design their latest cars. They're given carte-blanche to create shapes that mimic video game characters looking all the world like Transformers on steroids or Hello-Kitty with headlights and tires. At the end of the day, they're given a pat on the head for originality when other members of their game-playing ilk buy these cars in droves.
Am I a Luddite? Sure, but I know good, timeless design when I see it...