We are bringing you the exclusive interview with young American designer/craftsman Jonah Takagi who lives in Washington DC, USA. We were talking about his latest products as well as about his inspiration and contemporary American design scene.
Takagi was born in Tokyo, but he raised in New England. After that he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002. Since then he has designed and made furniture and lightning with a lot of attention to details and crafts. He collaborates with Matter, Roll and Hill and others. Jonah is passionate bass guitarist too.
1. Why is your latest design of the table named Market Research?
The table was named for the wide range of first impressions that people have when viewing the piece.
2. What was your inspiration for the design of the table?
One night in Brooklyn, several friends and I managed to find ourselves in an amazing machine shop that fabricated and repaired gigantic diesel engines for ocean going vessels. The tooling was immense and the forms were fantastic. The Market Research Table's silhouette was inspired by a particularly elegant end mill.
3. Are you inspired by the modernist American design?Are You interested in it? I mean the decorators and craftsmen like Edward Wormley, Harvey Probber, Phillip Lloyd Powell and others. I think your work is like a contemporary continuation of this style.
I am certainly familiar with these designer's work and I enjoy it; however, I am not a student of it. If my work appears to be a continuation of modernist American design, I am proud to carry the torch.
4. The table is characterised by a very nice connection of materials. Why these materials?
The Market Research Table is a study in materials, opacity and continuity, the joining of three very different materials, combining them harmoniously. Marble is a very special material. It has a glow, much like flesh, and absorbs the smallest amount of light into it's surface, diffusing it and creating a wonderful warmth. The ash wood was chosen for its distinct, iconic and unrepentant grain, the machined aluminum, for its cold precision.
5. Your light Subdivisions is inspired by the street lightning. Is the everyday inspiration important for you in your whole work?
From material handling to industrial safety, lab equipment to medical models, I find myself focusing on unintended aesthetics. The strict hierarchy of manufacturing imbues the objects with beautiful details that are largely dictated by how it was fabricated and ultimately, its function. These moments and forms are raw and under worked, subtle and telling. Examining these features and objects can reveal a hidden lexicon that can be exploited to great effect.
6. Your work is a part conceptual and lyrical and part functionalist. What is your opinion on design-art movement? I think that your work is ideal combination of art and design maybe.
The conceptual/lyrical/functional hybrid is a function of my personality and my reality. As a designer, I am constantly vascillating between extreme boredom and anxious inspiration. I want to do everything all at the same time. One moment I might address pure functionality, in the next moment I may want to create something that will make my 6 year old neighbor smile.
I view the art/design movement as an opportunity for designers and artists to create objects outside of the confines and compromises of mass production, CE listing, ADA compliance and strict functionality. Nothing more, nothing less. It has created an existence in a narrow void between art and design, that in some ways, struggles with an identity crisis. Is art-design just sculpture viewed through a different lens?
7. Do exist some typical characteristics of the young american design? Is it something what can not have any other designs in the world?
I think that the new design in America is a reaction to this country's changing roll in the world. Between the economy, foreign policy and multinational corporations, American's are beginning to look inward and are making more considered choices about what they buy, eat and design. The increased interest in "heritage" brands, the DIY scene, Slow Food, etc. doesn't seem new or shocking, it all seems fundamentally American, a new pioneering spirit and a more thoughtful interpretation of self reliance.
8. Who are most important persons in American contemporary design? (including gallerists, curators, bloggers, retailers and designers of course)
I will throw a few out there in no particluar order. There are several small manufacturers and boutiques that come to mind, several of which I am fortunate to work with. Matter, Roll and Hill, Council, The Future Perfect, Areaware, KIOSK...
There is only one American blog that I read regularly, it is called SightUnseen. They report on international design and art from a distinctly American perspective. In terms of designers, Leon Ransmeier is a favorite, so is David Wiseman, Lindsey Adelman and Matthias Pliesnig to name a few.
Thank you for the interview!