Quirky Japanese designer Takayuki Fukuzawa is on a mission to make people smile.
A graduate of Tokyo’s Nihon University, Fukuzawa started designing his own unique brand of “humourous art and design” products not long after entering full-time employment as a home designer. After bringing smiles to exhibition attendees’ faces and realising that he might be on to something, he quickly established his own company, ekoD Works (pronounced “eco doh”), and hasn’t looked back since.
Japan’s Excite News sat down with Fukuzawa to pick his brains about his unusual product line-up, the meaning behind the company name and the runaway success of his mercilessly cheeky “Wild Idea Mapping red Bra T-shirt”.
- Playing with words
Despite being written in Roman characters, Fukuzawa’s company name is actually far more Japanese than it may first appear. Quizzed about the peculiar moniker, the fun-loving designer discusses his creative mission and explains just how integral the notion of clowning and fun is to his brand:
“First and foremost, I had the idea that I want to present humour to my customers and in return receive smiles back. So essentially what I’m doing here is working as a professional clown!” he laughs. “I work to produce items that will resulting in people saying to me ‘Oh, you made some new idiotic thing!’” he adds with a smile.
Although probably a mystery even to native Japanese speakers, Fukuzawa’s company name, ekoD, actually makes the word “dohke” (or 「道化」 in Chinese characters) when written backwards, meaning “buffoonery” or “clowning”. This kind of a word-play is a trend that runs right the way through the designer’s product line-up, with the name of almost every item he sells having some kind of double meaning.
▼Suitably well-dressed Fukuzawa explains the thinking behind his now famous t-shirt
- On the creation of the t-shirt
They say that the best ideas are often the simplest, and Fukuzawa’s red bra t-shirt design is certainly far from a high-brow product, but the final design didn’t come overnight.
“I received a ton of comments and criticism about the initial designs;” he admits “When I showed [the t-shirt] to my friends they’d say things like ‘the breasts are still lacking something,’ or ‘it’s a funny concept, but they need to look more realistic.’”
After several redesigns and a lot of experimentation with regard to the perfect position for the breasts on the shirt, Fukuzawa discovered the key to making his mammaries more realistic, saying: “The contours of the lower breasts and the various shadows are important, but even more so is the deep ravine between them.”
After perfecting the design, Fukuzawa took a batch of shirts along with a handful of other products to design festivals and exhibitions around the country, including the now prestigious Tokyo Designers Week 2012, to see what the general public made of them. He admits, however, that he was at first more than a little apprehensive about showing the shirts to female customers:
“I received a ton of praise from men, but for a long time I worried what women would say. But once I lifted the lid and showed them, it turned out that the girls were actually the ones who took to the design the most. One woman actually said ‘This is great- from now on I can turn my bee-stings into boobies!’ haha.”
▼The long-sleeve version is is very popular with the ladies
“I estimate that they’re about a D-cup,” Fukuzawa said when Excite News quizzed him about the size of his t-shirt’s hefty lady pillows. “Although they’re not based on a precise measurement, whenever I show the shirts to women I tell them ‘pop this on and you’ll go up to a D…’”
From the exhibition hall, Fukuzawa’s design quickly moved into online stores, with his biggest break coming when he struck a deal with pop culture specialists and bric-a-brac retailer Village Vanguard to sell the t-shirts via their mail-delivery service. Much to Fukuzawa’s elation, despite retailing at a handsome 3,600 yen (US$40) each, they were an instant hit. “The entire stock sold out just three days after going on sale,” Fukuzawa recalls, “I actually had to do another quick production run!”
- Bringing humour into the home
But there’s more to ekoD Works than just cheeky t-shirts. A quick visit to main distributer Minne’s online store reveals a whole host of bizarre creations including a nose-shaped adapter for a wall outlet, mouth-shaped vases dubbed “Chu-lip” (a play on the Japanese word chu meaning “kiss”) and, in a world away from recent efforts seen earlier this week on RocketNews24, flower-shaped earphone jack inserts.
▼A powerful nose and no mistake
▼A cumbersome but charming way of keeping your earphone jack clean
▼ Mouth-shaped “Chu-lip” pots
Fukuzawa’s most bizarre creation, though, is without a doubt his Karesuimingu collection. As ever a play on the words, the name is a blend of the words 「枯山水」 karesansui meaning “dry landscape gardening” (as seen in Japanese temples and landscape gardens), and the Japanese pronunciation of the word “swimming”. The series features heads and legs emerging from “dry pools” of gravel, withe gravel forming water-like ripples around them.
As charming as these designs are, we’re not sure how well they’d go down with visitors to Kyoto’s Ryōan temple…
For more on Takayuki Fukuzawa’s alternative art style, take a trip over to ekoD Works’ official website. We’ll definitely be paying a visit in the near future to see what else he can come up with!
Source: Excite ニュース