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Report on the Final Review

The Reasons for Selecting “Raw Stationery” (AATISMO) for the Grand Prix

The award winners for the KOKUYO DESIGN AWARD 2016 were announced on 30th November. 10 works passed the primary selection from the 1,307 works submitted from 44 countries throughout the world (929 entries from Japan and 378 from overseas). In the final review, the creators of each work made a presentation in front of the judges with a question-and-answer session. As a result of the vote by the judges, 1 work was selected for the Grand Prix and 3 works for Merit Awards.

This year’s theme was “HOW TO LIVE”. What is really necessary for our lives and lifestyles in these contemporary times when we are surrounded by so many things? First of all, we posed such a big question about how we live and what kind of lifestyle we have.

“We are developing our business mainly in stationery and office furniture. Nowadays, the way of working is dynamically changing and from now on the way people work and the way they live will become even more closely connected. Under these circumstances, we wanted to further expand the KOKUYO DESIGN AWARD theme last year of “Beautiful Lifestyle” and to seek design ideas that included daily life and way of living.” (Hidekuni Kuroda, Representative Director of the Board, President and CEO, KOKUYO Co., Ltd.)

It was the 14th time for the award contest to be held since 2002 and this time it was a big challenge for the DESIGN AWARD to decide the theme; it is also a fact that we were worried about what kind of works would be submitted. However, all of the entrants tackled this difficult theme seriously and submitted ambitious works that focused on new ways of living and lifestyles.

Returning tools to their original materials

The Grand Prix winner this year “Raw Stationery” is a work that makes pencils, erasers and rulers into long rod-shapes. We are asking for new possibilities for stationery to be more like “raw material” that users can cut to their preferred length, enabling them to find ways of using it freely, just like the commercial materials sold at shops like DIY stores.

In his presentation at the final review, one of the creators of this work, Keita Ebizuka, talked about the concept. “In response to the theme of the contest this time, we reviewed the relationships between tools, materials and people. The beginning of tools and stationery originated with the picking up of a branch from a tree that had fallen on the ground and trying to draw on the spot with it. People selected what they themselves required from the things surrounding them and sometimes they added something to it with their own hands and used it. In other words, human beings created tools from materials. What we are proposing this time is to try and return the tool to its original material. This does not mean in any way going back to olden times but because we are surrounded by so many things these days, we may be able to gain a fresh perspective by looking at stationery and tools as ready-made materials. We thought that would make a good starting point.” (Mr. Ebizuka)

The pencil is 8mm in diameter and 90cm in length. You can cut it to the length that you want to use but Daiki Nakamori says, “Personally, I want to sketch with it so I cut it short to be able to grasp it easily in my hand.” “Alternatively, like Henri Matisse, you can keep it long and hold it as it is to sketch with. As it is wood, you can shave it down to make it easier to hold, carve your own personal seal into it or add color to it.” (Mr. Nakamori) The eraser is a cross-sectional square shape of 12mm square and can be cut as required. “As well as that, you can use it by cutting it diagonally and carefully smoothing it down or you can stick pins rolling around on your desk in it. You can easily cut it and the corners are perpendicular so you could use it as a model for construction or for a study.” (Mr. Nakamori) “And the ruler is a cross-sectional equilateral triangular shape with 15mm sides and made of aluminum. “Although the measurement scale is engraved on one side, you can make your own ruler by engraving your own original measurement scale on another side. You can also use it as a card holder by inserting notches in a vertical direction,” Mr. Nakamori continues. By the way, Mr. Ebizuka was wearing a “measure accessory” made by cutting the ruler short, drilling a hole in the center and threading a string through it.

When this product is being sold in a DIY shop, it is envisaged that there will be a cutting service or that a number of different lengths will be developed. Cut lengths can be placed in a paper tube and kept near the desk. The two creators concluded their presentation with the words, “The uses that we have just mentioned are only a few examples. These are materials so the number of applications for the materials are as many as the number of users. That is the special feature of this work.”

A suitable answer to the question of “HOW TO LIVE”

After that, they responded to the questions that the judges had about specific production methods, such as, “Is it possible to make them in the same way as existing pencils?” or “Is it possible that the pencil lead will not break even when it is so long?” On the other hand, the judges gave their positive opinions, one after another, about the possibilities that they could foresee in this work, such as “In a world where everything is becoming more convenient, conversely, this kind of inconvenient thing that requires one action is good because it gives rise to the imagination. I think it may become very convenient depending on how it is used and who uses it.” (Mr. Ryosuke Uehara) and “It can be used wisely, depending on the idea of how to use it and it may be unexpectedly pleasing for children. They probably have never seen such a long pencil or eraser.” (Mr. Kinya Tagawa)

Review by each judge

“The message that stood out about going to buy stationery as raw materials was innovative. While the work kept to the basics of the circular, triangular and square shapes, and pencils, erasers and rulers, it makes us wonder what will happen next. This question in itself establishes this as a work of art.” (Mr. Yasuhiro Suzuki, Artist)

“Consideration of the concepts and tools is very sharp and cool. I think that there is also a tendency now to reconsider the use of materials in buildings etc., but this has been successfully incorporated into the product and is a response to a society overflowing with so many things. We had a few questions during the review about how the user would cut the item when using it or how to manufacture the pencil but the content was so good that it overcame any of these doubts.” (Mr. Kashiwa Sato, President, Art Director and Creative Director of SAMURAI Co., Ltd.)

“In a world where everything is becoming more convenient, conversely, this kind of inconvenient thing that requires one action is good because it gives rise to the imagination. The presentation was good and the sheets, video and images showed actual examples and were easy to understand; I felt that the level of perfection overall was high.” (Mr. Ryosuke Uehara, President, Art Director and Creative Director of KIGI)

“The works that appeared this year were the kind of works that never appeared for the theme used last year. For the first time I felt with surprise, “This is it!” It may not be the kind of thing that is a best seller but I think the way the idea and viewpoint is handled stands out, and the innovative way of thinking make it suitable for the Grand Prix. (Ms. Yoshie Watanabe, Art Director and Designer of KIGI)

“After getting a simple and clear picture of the theme “HOW TO LIVE”, the creators focused on the users and “how to use it.” The answer to the number of uses lies in the number of users, so it could reach 1000 or even 10,000, it is a product with a ripple-effect, just like the media.” (Mr. Kinya Tagawa, President and Design Engineer of takram design engineering)

In the deliberations after the presentation, voting by the judges took place. Less than 10 minutes from the start, all of the judges cast their votes for this work “Raw Stationery” and it was decided as the Grand Prix. Each of the judges evaluated highly the “way of thinking” in this work and judged it as “the most suitable in response to the theme this time”. In contrast to previous years, the Grand Prix was decided smoothly during the judges’ deliberations without any of the judges feeling confused or having intense discussions. Also, both of the creators talked of their joy at the awards ceremony. “There were many things that the judges asked about the work itself and through the things that they told us there were many new things that we noticed.” (Mr. Nakamori) “I was happy because I am never usually praised this much. As this was a concept that the two of us have talked about for so long, it was so nice that we could receive this award.” (Mr. Ebizuka)

Talking about their joy at receiving the award, Mr. Daiki Nakamori (left) and Mr. Keita Ebizuka (right) from AATISMO