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Welcome to Norm’s very first Meet an Artisan! Today, we have with us Shota Kumiji, founder of Kumiji Design. Mr. Kumiji focuses on minimalism in metalwork. He specializes in taking metal – a material that can sometimes convey a feeling of cold – and transforming it into something warm and inviting. Today, we’ll get to learn more about Mr. Kumiji and his work!

Mr. Kumiji received his master’s degree in product design from Hosei University. He then started working for an architectural hardware design firm, participating in projects like renovating and repairing historical Japanese buildings. During that time, the sustainable nature of metal intrigued him, and he also discovered that working with metal was surprisingly complex, varied, and deep.  “For example, the longer you own a piece of metal, the more the material itself shifts and changes over time,“ he says. In his view, this maturation causes the metal to become even more beautiful, and that is the reason he chose to focus on metal work.

He emphasizes that the point at which he finishes working on a piece is just the beginning of its beauty. For example, with brass works, the way brass changes over time is particularly beautiful compared to aluminum or stainless steel. As the years go by, and as you watch the material change, there’s an almost profound quality to brass. Brass is also one of his favorite materials; “even when small, it can substantially change the vibe of a room. This makes brass a very attractive material.” Later, after leaving this firm, Mr. Kumiji joined another company where he focused on product design. From there, he founded Kumiji Design, a minimalist lifestyle brand.

While similar metal or minimalist works may feel cold, Mr. Kumiji's works are the opposite; they match perfectly with any environment. The <Disk> Aluminum Minimal Clock is a wonderful example of minimalism; aside from its three clock hands, it features no other components. Mr. Kumiji found himself dissatisfied with some of the work he was seeing on the marketplace. “Once, I tried to purchase a wall clock, and I couldn’t find one that I liked. They all had redundant or unnecessary aspects to their design,” he says. “As you remove unnecessary components, it creates space for the viewer to better appreciate the material itself. It’s hard to fool someone with poor quality when the design is simple and clean. Simple design also enables the viewer to see the true beauty of the item, because there are fewer distractions.” 

As a result, he started working on pieces that didn’t have any unnecessary components. This eventually became Kumiji Design’s philosophy: harmony with your daily life, showing full appreciation for the material, and adopting a minimalist design philosophy. “Right now, I think lifestyle goods focus too much on aesthetics. I believe the quality of a design should be evaluated by how well an item meshes with your daily life; whether it’s in harmony with you, not just whether or not it’s an outstanding product by itself.

As a lifestyle brand designer, his inspirations come from any aspect of his daily life, such as cooking, cleaning, watering flowers, doing laundry, eating meals, taking walks, or taking baths. “Inspiration can come and go in a flash, so I try to consciously pay attention to every moment, especially moments that make me happy,“ he says. Japanese-style is also an indispensable element of his designs; for example, the concept of Washitsu (a traditional Japanese style tatami room), “which emphasizes minimalism in all things.”

Mr. Kumiji enjoys seeing a work go from an initial concept to a complete product. “There are many obstacles and difficulties in this journey. So, when I finally arrive at something I’m happy with, it’s really a great moment,” he says. Every designer has the goal that one day they can start their own physical shop; Mr. Kumiji is no different. “This shop will not only sell a good variety of products from Kumiji Design, I also hope its aesthetic will reflect my design philosophy.”

 

More of Kumiji Design's Collection

Interviewed by Yuwen W
Words by Yuwen W & RP
Photos are shoot & provided by Mr. Shota Kumiji

 


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