For Door to Asia 2018, I would like to start from the word “Living the Dream”. Basically most of us, designers, work hard with the romance that our design can somehow change the world, according to many stories of legendary design, creating impact to the society, from mid of20th century. While in the present, I never see any chance how the design can slightly change the world — in better way. What I see is most of our designs could change the world by commodification every single thing, from tissue paper to belief, top-up unreal value to product byproduct, be a trustful equaliser and powerful speaker for capitalism. Then we, designers, could fill both ego and the leftover profit, spurting out from the gap of economic inequality which we have conspired with the investors, to our bank account. I am afraid to believe that design nowadays is the tool to make things off balance, instead of the tool to find the balance but it seems to be in this way, in any case.
The truth is, even I believe in fundamental of design, I had completely lost faith in design career. If my heart was a room, the dream of changing the world is packed in a suitcase, put at the far corner of the room, that I intentionally forget the key and passcode. However this whole story was before I attended DTA program. To be honest, I think I almost miss the chance to participate DTA program since I was very busy with community fieldwork at the time when the call-to-entry email was sent to me. It took about a week for me to check the inbox and reply.Fortunately, DTA team is so generous enough to wait for my response even we never know each other(anyway I think it was not quite a good first impression at all, sorry…) After a casual orientation I ever take with Miki-san, I at last be the one of the participant.
At first, I didn’t think I was so blessed to join the program. It supposed to be just a cool trip to unknown city with unknown design colleagues from 8 countries for 10 days. In fact, the program was intense, in a good way. In my life, I never do such exact things in exact timing like 10 days in DTA program. Everything was designed, well-crafted, from food we eat to people we meet. There are many times that I think to myself that our organiser, whoever who plan all this program, must be hard-working fundamentalist humanist monster who is very delicate to human touch as well as very legit to universal rule — or so-called ‘designer’.
About the location, scenery of Rikuzentakata is too good to be true — big mountain, pile tree forest, land, gulf and sea. While story of the city is too sad to be reality as well, since the first day in Rikuzentakata, I was shaken by the physical evidence left from the big disaster we saw in the city. It was such difficult feeling inside, neither happy nor melancholy, to express the city’s unique beauty. Even the city itself is easy to be falling in love, people are more lovely. It took me only a few conversations to acknowledge the gut of Rizukentakata’s people. While surrounding with problems, their willpower to stay in the city and stand by each other is truly amazing. Their pure spirit has made such impact to me, still. I have experienced with community projects for 3 years but I never touch the strong passion to survive, to grow up like people in this city. It was the first time I feel blessed because I come here to work as a designer which mean I am allowed to
create something — make a path from problem to possibility — with these strong-minded people.
As I said in above paragraph, the program was intense. However, it was well-planned and amazingly full-supported by DTA core team. Therefore I could paid all my attention and intention only to design work. 7 days in Hakoneyama Terrace and 3 days in homestay with Suisen Sake Company will be one of my favourite memory of my life. As a team, I was very lucky to have 2 wonder women with me — my design partner Yuni-chan and co-ordinator Shiori-chan. They are so talented, supportive, sincere, hard-working, pure and quirky. We quickly got in the same pace which I could ask no more from them. While our client from Suisen, Yuki-san and Yasu-san, who in the end become good friends, are very pure and honest. Without their passion for people and hometown, our final design proposal could not become something solid.
In my opinion, design is the way of creation between this and that. At the beginning, it would start with a single dot, then another dot comes after, then another after another and the dots becomes a line. Design is relation, there is no way design can solely achieve with a person or thing. It requires connectivity and I think DTA has the simplest structure to delicately weave people, organically between different kind of language, culture, belief, gender, into the one big pattern. It was such a pleasure for me to be there — as a participant, as a designer, as a free human and as a witness of the real power of design — the power of relationship.
I know everything is temporary, yet I hope everything happened there will stay a little bit longer, at least in our memory. See you again.