At the moment I'm in the middle of my second semester of a master's program at a design school in Japan. It feels like I'm living the dream that drove me to decide to learn the excruciatingly difficult language that is Japanese, almost 10 years ago. The more time I spend studying design in Japan, the more I feel that I've found my "design tribe." I keep discovering more designers and more philosophies here that closely embody my own unspoken beliefs about design. My latest interests are in the concept of Super Normal design coined by Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison, as well as the humble everyday products created by Sori Yanagi, who seems to share a similar approach to design.
I had heard of Super Normal design several years ago in passing, but recently as I've been thinking more about what kind of work I want to do after graduation, I started thinking about it again. I made a trip to our marvelous design campus library, which has a surprising number of volumes in English, and picked up a stack of books that caught my interest. One of the them was a small, picture-heavy book (my favorite kind) written to accompany Fukasawa and Morrison's Super Normal Design exhibition (2006) entitled Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary. I read it cover-to-cover in a day, and found that I agreed completely with the designers' belief that objects need not be unnecessarily reinvented just to attract attention or in an attempt at self expression.
I was particularly struck by the simple beauty of Morrison's door handle, adapted from a classic coach door handle. It just goes to show that new is not always better, and sometimes all that is needed is a simple adjustment or an update of materials to make a classic design useful for today's lifestyle.