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Survey on the actual situation of Japanese design archives

what is going on?Design archives of these people


Yoko Uga

Industrial designer


Interview: December 19, 2017 16: 00 ~ 17: 30
Place: Uka Design Institute
Interviewee: Yoko Uga
Interviewer: Yasuko Seki (Mr. Shigeru Omora)
Writing: Yasuko Sekiko



Yoko Uga

Industrial designer

Born in Tokyo in March 1932
1955 Graduated from Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Engineering, Chiba University
    Joined the Riken Optical Industry (currently Ricoh) Planning Office, later to the design department
1957 Matsushita Electric Industrial (now Panasonic) Joined Design Research Department Central Research Laboratory
1963 - 64 JETRO As an overseas design student,
      Enrolled in Hornsey college of Arts & Crafts UK
1965 Established industrial designer Yoko Uga Laboratory
Reorganized into Uka Design Institute, Limited Company 1992
2005 year dissolution of laboratory

Associate Professor, Department of Life Design, Musashino Art University Junior College,
Part-time lecturer, Department of Industrial Design, Chiba University Industrial College Department,
Member of the Japan Industrial Designers Association, Executive Director, Vice President,
Member of the Japan Design Association, Director etc

Yoko Uga



Many Japanese industrial designers are in-house designers belonging to companies.Together with the growth of Japan's economy after the war, they are increasingly committed to corporate management in addition to product design such as cars and home appliances, as well as various areas such as business planning and branding.When Yoko Uga graduated from Chiba University and took the first step as a designer, Japan is indeed under the backdrop of economic recovery, a variety of industries have emerged and at the same time awareness of Japan's unique products and design development It was a period of time.In a column published in "Special Issue on Design Studies", Uka stated as follows. "Japanese design activities began with the opening of the Meiji era and continued to explore their own way gradually, while devoting themselves to imitating in Europe and the United States.However, it can be said that after the Second World War, the Japanese design movement began to become full scale.It was in 1951 that Raymond Rowie came to Japan, designing the package of the Nippon Monopoly Corporation's piece and making the topic of design the first general.Then, in the decade from 1960 to the year of 1960 ..., the design activity in the '50s can be considered as the era of Japan's pioneer. "
As a pioneer of working women and female industrial designers, Uka has also contributed to improving and establishing its position while walking in parallel with the development of postwar industrial design.After graduating from college, Uka, who gained experience as an in-house designer and became freelance after studying in the UK, started designing the scientific magazine of Gakken, and designed it in 1952, while designing kitchen supplies, spectacle frames, etc. We also actively participate in the activities of JIDA (Japan Industrial Designers' Association), which has influenced a lot of design archive related projects that JIDA is working on.



· Mainichi Newspaper organized the 6th New Japan Industrial Design Competition (1957)
 (Challenge: National Television Special Selected First Minister of International Trade and Industry Minister Prize) Co-producer: Hideyo Tsuruoka, Hiroshi Ishikawa
· Push button type tape recorder RQ-302 (1958)
 Matsushita Communication Industry (now Panasonic Mobile Communications)
· National household foot stepping sewing machine (1960) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (present Panasonic)
· Appendix design of the scientific monthly magazine "Science of ○ Year" (1965 ~ 1972) Collaboration with Gakken KK
· Grill pan "Yotei · Hi Black series" (1974) Hakamada Metal Industry
· Nikon Frame (1990) Nikon
· Nikon Pendant Loupe (1994) Nikon



· Craftworks News 1971 Vol.39-2 Contribution: "Design Lifecycle" - From its Actual Survey -
· "Theory of Industrial Design" and History 1 (1983) Japan Publishing Service
· "Nippon Product - Testimonies of Designers, 50 Years! "(2005) Art Publications Kazuo Kimura co-supervised by others

Yoko Uga works



Design was a new job,
I was able to work freely

Pioneer of female industrial designer

- Mr. Uga is the first generation of working women after the war, and at the same time it has opened up a place for female designers to be active.What made you aim to become a designer in that era?


Uka then the school system was revised to 6, 3, 3, 4 system, graduated from the former high school girls school in 5 years, graduated from a new high school in plus one year.Even now, it has not changed much, but Japan was a considerable male-centered society at that time.Since I was a second daughter in my second child, I grew up being told that "It would have been fine for boys" from a young age, I always thought "I will not lose to boys".Both my mother and my sister went to the upper school and I intended to go on to graduate course, but I was not able to decide what course to go on.In such a case, in 1951 the Department of Industrial Design was founded at the Faculty of Engineering, Chiba University, and I felt that I could take a job that can be active even for women if I learned here, I took the exam.Nonetheless, I did not understand what the "department of industrial design" was.


- Do you feel that you first touched on the design after entering university?


It is UGA .At that time Japan was in the process of pursuing the rebuilding of the industry while taking over the defeat of the defeat, the awareness of the design of the product, now the design is beginning to bud.In 1951, Mr. Konosuke Matsushita visited the US, invited Mr. Yoshiichi Mano from Chiba University to seek a core person for Matsushita's design, and in the following year the Japan Industrial Designers Association was founded, The Ministry of Industry has established a good design product selection system.Because it is such a time, demand for female designers was born, as women's eyes are also important in home appliances and the like.


- Well, on the other hand, what was the design education of the university?


I think that how to teach industrial design to Uga students, trial and error situation about design education.In such circumstances, Professor Shinji Koike learned the theory and history mainly from overseas design information, original form from Mr. Masaki Yamaguchi, was a part-time lecturer, later appointed Matsushita Electric Industrial Design Director Professor Masano Yoshikazu taught sketches and how to use paint through industrial design exercises.I remember being impressed by the teacher 's demonstration.


- How were you during your school days?


Interest in the economics, law, psychology, etc. was mainly attracted by general liberal arts subjects for two years after entering Uka .There are subjects jointly with other department students, two of the 180 engineering departments have women.In the special subjects, teaching using Dr. Koike's lecture using Nicholas Pebener's original book "William Morris to Walter Gropius" was fresh.In exercise, I believe that Mr. Yamaguchi's form composition, sense of balance and beauty sensation training was made.In the 3rd year there is a factory training system, and each student learns at a freelance office, etc., during summer vacation.Since there was an industrial craft laboratory under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry at Shimomaruko in Ota Ward, I was carrying out various experiments, guidance and support activities related to design development, so I got a practical training in the functional laboratory where Mr. Katsuhira Toyoguchi is the department head I received the unit.Others remember that the design department decomposed reference materials made in foreign countries to practice drawing.


- After receiving such education, it began to aim for industrial designers.


Since Uka back then industrial reconstruction was a major goal, I was pursuing how to produce good products efficiently in large quantities, but after passing through a laboratory practice experience in a functional laboratory, I was also able to develop gender and various physique I thought it was important to create products that can be adjusted and products that can be used without inconvenience.


- After graduating, joined RIKEN Optical Industry (now Ricoh).What kind of work did you do in the assigned planning office and design department?


Uka's then Ricoh had a camera department and a photosensitive paper department, and the designer was a direct report director of the project manager.I am a senior senior Mr. Hiroku Nonaka with 2 people, designs and named products, such as event display and venue design, corporate mark and logotype design, car hanging, product package, instruction manual , Designing advertising cars and cameras, designing copiers of new releases, etc., I was able to do anything, every day was so much fun and I was crazy about it.
Meanwhile, since 1955, the JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) "Research Institution for Overseas Dispatch of Industrial Designers" a researcher system based on the public recruitment examination, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry from the following year the "invitation system for foreign designs etc" was established The first time to be invited was the designer of four Adams principals or less, at the Art Center College of Design in the USA.I wanted to participate in the workshop by all means, I took a course with permission from my boss.There were a lot of people active at the time there, and I was able to gain valuable learning opportunities.


- The Ricoh era is very fulfilling.


Two years have passed since I joined Uka Ricoh, my boss, seniors, colleagues and my work also were blessed, but on the other hand I began to think more about product design in earnest.At that time, at Matsushita Electric, the concept of design comprehensive center was planned, learning the design center of GE in the USA, and there is a story that "designer of women is necessary", and Mr. Mano who moved from Chiba University served as a design director In order to change jobs from the edge that he was.


- I was able to change jobs to Matsushita at a good timing, and it was a privileged situation.


Uka Anyway I think that a female designer was required.However, as I joined the company, the design comprehensive center concept was gone, designers were assigned to each business division, and it was supposed to design closer to manufacturing.The central laboratory design department of the head office to which I belonged was to receive the work of a department not assigned a designer in a new business etc. I was in charge of designing a wide range of products including refrigerators, tape recorders, sewing machines and so on.


- Because I am a woman on work, have you ever felt inconvenience?


Uka back then, the design was a new job.Therefore, I thought that there were few constraints of the "male society" and the precedent, I was blessed with the surrounding people, and consequently I was able to get a very good job as a result.However, it was considerably lower than the men in terms of salary and other aspects of treatment, so in the Ricoh era he asked the reason directly for the top of labor and accounting, and at Matsushita Electric, together with colleagues of labor union contracted with the company I have also asked for improvements.


- After that, I will study abroad in the UK, but what kind of things did you learn?


UCA In the UK, RCA (Royal College of Arts) is known as a graduate school of design, but there are problems with the procedure and the timing of entrance examinations, I enrolled as a graduate student of Hornsey college of Arts & Crafts, I got advice from my instructor.
Prior to Wedding, Professor Shinji Koike advised us to investigate British design promotion policies through the activities of CoID (Council of Industrial Design) and Design Center, we got a letter of introduction to Sir Paul Riley It was.Thanks to that, while attending school, I was able to meet directly with the manager of each section of CoID and got an explanation, and I was able to deepen the understanding of its policy, role, method and so on.CoID is the first institution established in the UK under the umbrella of the Ministry of Commerce as part of the national design promotion policy.The exhibition hall was established in the center of London as a design center in 1956.After that, in the 1950s and 1960s, institutions that used to model this place were established in Europe and North America and Australia as well.Japan's "Japan Design House" and "Osaka Design House" are also in line with that trend and were established in 1960.
CoID is constantly undergoing design selection at the Technical Committee, and selected items are exhibited at the Design Center.The exhibition method was unique, and the selected product group was presented in a coordinated manner like a living space.In the Design Index section inside the design center, information on selected items (release year, price, designer name, manufacturer name, etc.) currently being produced and sold was cardized and everyone was able to browse and use it.Through these experiences I felt the length of design life of British products, the interestingness of British conservatism and innovation and the depth of British design, and after returning home I led to the survey of Japanese G mark products with the same theme is.


- After returning home, it did not belong to the company, it was independent.


Uka After returning home in February 1965 and establishing the industrial designer Yoko Uka Laboratory as free, in August of that same year, together with KAK, we worked on the design of the appendix such as the science magazine "In parallel with that, in September we introduced part-time lecturers at Musashino Art University and Junior College Department by introduction of Dr. Kentahe Toyoguchi, a full-time lecturer at the same life design course the following year, and then as an associate professor, we also focused on educational activities.One of them was the "Cutting-edge Lifecycle of Design" at the craft news issue No. 2 issued in 1971, surveying with students in an effort to investigate the actual condition of Japan in the "life cycle of design" that was a research theme in the UK. From the survey of its actual situation - "was announced.The surveyed subjects were G mark selected items (447 products including automobiles, household appliances, household goods, etc.), but when compared with the UK, I was surprised by the shortness of changing the design every year instead of the epochal period of the then mini skirt.There is a consultation at a later date, from Poland in 2013, I read this article in Russian translation, but I have an inquiry to read in the original text, and I was impressed that over 40 years passed since I was interested in such things Did.Although the story returns, the school conflict was flourishing at the time of assistant professor, and I also quit college as I thought.


- Did you name the laboratory rather than the design office, do you have any reasons?


Uga Since I was interested in not only designing products but also research activities that basically think about the background of the product and required functions and analyze it collectively in data and graphs, I made it such a name maybe.


- After that, it was organized as a Uka Design Research Institute Limited Company in 1992, but what is the representative work of Mr. Uga?


Uka organizations have turned into a corporation, but I think that they have long relationships with clients without changing the design stance and work making as an industrial designer.Gakken's work got a voice from Yoshio Akioka of KAK. Since 1965, over the course of 72 years, the associates of the office also increased, and worked on designing tableware and other items from cooking goods such as grill pan.Nikon's work began in 1973, when the first eyeglass frame company of the company was designed, it started from fundamental research, especially senior eyeglasses have thoroughly studied the feeling of wearing and so on, ultra compact with a simple structure · It has become a long-selling product by realizing super light weight.After that we also progressed market research for senior eyeglasses, usually suggesting a pendant type loupe like a necklace etc, also to long seller.In addition to that, we have continued work such as weight scale and other health equipments, various living goods, survey research etc. from the industrial designer Yoko Uga Laboratory era.


- Mr. Uga said from the young age that "I wanted to design for easy-to-use products that can be adjusted to cover body shapes and sex", but I'm just saying the design for those in the position of senior or feminine It was developing.


Uga That's right.This idea is also a consistent design theme since university.For example, in glasses design, we have not only proposed a fashionable design, but also investigated the differences in the skeleton between Westerners and Japanese people, and have tried to ease usability, fit, small and lightweight.


About the design archive


- Well, I would like to ask about Mr. Uga's design archive, which was a pioneer of a female industrial designer, but what is the current state of products, drawings, sketches and materials?


UGA is as you can see. (Many cardboard boxes are placed randomly in the room) There are few materials of the Ricoh and Matsushita periods, and materials such as sketches and drawings before 2005 that broke off the office are included in a cardboard box for each project for the time being However, it keeps it as a dossier without leaving it untouched.Even after dissolving the office, there are also inquiries from clients, and we have not been able to organize it as an archival of things that I will publish each time.I am at a loss before the huge amount of materials I put in the box, but I feel like I have to manage somehow.Now I have started to work with JIDA, beginning with Mr. Odori and others, I have to organize only the data related to JIDA that has been involved for many years.


- Mr. Uga is also involved in publishing business and design archive as a member of JIDA?


Ugo As a memorial project of JIDA's 50th anniversary in 2002, "Testimony of Nippon Product Designer, 50 Years", published from Art Publishers, was supervised by JIDA members including Mr. Kimura Kazuo and Mr. Odora and compiled it .


Okinawa Through this activity I heard from Uga-san and Kimura-san various stories about the early stage of product design, the state of JIDA's inauguration and the big name people, there is fun different from the editing work, It became support of.


- Although I also read, I think that it is a valuable book as an archive, full of epoch making and episodes indispensable in the history of industrial design.


Editing work was tough with Uka's time's sketches, drawings, photographs and so on, but it is "Design Success Story filled with the origin of manufacturing and hints" as suggested in the sub title, and suggestions for future design I think that it became rich in things.


- It is now a web magazine, but the previously published magazine "Industrial Design" is also valuable material to talk about Japanese design history after the war.Also, the "JIDA Design Museum" opened in 1997 and the "JIDA Museum Design Selection" project which will select the excellent industrial design of the year that will celebrate the 20th year of this year can be called just design archive business.I am planning to interview JIDA's design archive project and upload it to this website so I would like to see the details.By the way I was talking about organizing the data on JIDA in the past, what kind of thing is it?


The museum committee will undertake the arrangement of the historical materials of JIDA which had been kept in the Uka Secretariat for a long time and decided to treat it as secondary material in the museum activity.Many work has involved not only the Design Museum Committee member but also many student volunteers and it has been running for more than 10 years.


Orokawa Currently list making is almost over.They include manuscripts of JIDA institution magazines, many design world conference materials, snaps, but also pictures and sounds.It is valuable to know the state from the design ingestion period in Japan.Later, I would like to expect from future people how to utilize this material and lead to new research and discovery.


- Mr. Odora is occasionally coming to Mr. Uga's workplace, but is there also helping to organize materials?


Okinawa I am mainly going to arrange materials related to JIDA that is kept in Uga's office together with the members.Mr. Uga is a researcher's skin, so not only design data but also organization organized by JIDA has been objectively analyzed from various perspectives, such as trends and trends in the number of members.I am creating these chronological charts and graphs so that they are visually easy to understand.


- Even in this survey, many designers say that priority is given to the task at hand and it is said that it will not be easy to handle the archiving.However, you can only select yourself by choosing materials.I feel that Mr. Uga's experience, which has experienced the early years of industrial design in Japan and opened up the way as a female designer, is valuable, so I hope that somehow we can summarize it.Thank you for today.



Censure: Yasuko Seki



what is going on?
Design archives of these people

There is also the possibility of changing subjects of survey.

The subjects (individuals) to be surveyed have been selected, including those who have already died, referring to the 2006 Asahi Shimbun publication "The Great Masters who have designed Nippon".

* Is a person who has died.




Let's talk about Shiro Kuramata

Symposium held

Shiro Kuramata (1934-1991) is a legendary designer who was active in the 1960s and 1980s.
His character and his work continue to fascinate people all over the world.
Thirty years before his death, he held a symposium to connect the design of Kuramata to the younger generation from the past to the present and the future as "Introduction to Shiro Kuramata".


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