Dissertation on revealing the inspiration




I'm often inspired by old objects, bits and pieces found in various places. What may be precious or valueless, trendy or unfashionable- these things really don't matter. The important thing is to expose oneself to a variety of references and archives, and to encounter something that moves you.

One day, whilst perusing at a flea market, I stumbled upon a peculiar antiques booth that really caught my eye, something I had seldom seen before.
Every antique piece collected by the booth's owner had its own special charm; from driftwood, wood carvings, old fabric from a yogi (kimono-shaped comforter), to bowls - all amazing items, all beautifully aged. In each one of these items I could sense this man's distinct aesthetic, his special eye for beauty.
While viewing his booth's goods, I curiously overheard a conversation between the booth owner and a rather academic-looking customer.

"This item, it's from the Edo Genroku period, isn't it?"asked the customer.
"I'm not really sure to be honest."replied the gentle owner,"I wasn't there at that time so I do not know. I leave those matters to scholars like you to study. I am simply selling things that move my heart."

While it is sometimes fun to theorize through logic and analysis, those ways of understanding our surroundings alone fail to allow a chord to be struck within us.
That unique intangible that you can't quite comprehend with your head - where does that feeling come from?
I want to design products that evoke an emotional connection.

Trying to think of some of the inspirational objects that I had felt a strong emotion with over years of collecting, I carefully selected then laid them out on boards together.

An old brass stencil set bought at an antique mall in Los Angeles; a pencil-sketched drawing of a cowboy by an unknown artist; a Nishijin-ori fabric swatch folder book discovered at an old bookstore in Kyoto; trade beads originally found by the Colorado River; a colorful spark plug from the 1920's; hand carved wooden toy boots from somewhere in America; necklaces I made for my wife and daughter from shells I picked up on the shores of Miyako-jima; a handmade banjo..

I didn't really know what attracted me to these objects at first, but it wasn't simply their physical form or appearance. Each item has moved me in a different and profound way.

Rather than rationalizing with my head, it's more of an interpretation of a feeling inside myself. That's how my design process starts - looking within my heart.

"Dissertation on revealing the inspiration"

Hiroki Nakamura