12 Kashiwa Sato (Art Director)

Kashiwa Sato (Art Director)

Art director Kashiwa Sato has undertaken many projects, from the branding of companies and facilities including a kindergarten, to creating the concept of a hospital. We interviewed Sato at the National Art Center, Tokyo-a museum whose logo mark and signs he designed. Sato has written books which notably contain words such as "cho seirijyutsu" (the art of being ultra-organized), "designpedia", and "creative thinking". Sato is known for coming up with logical solutions for various problems, and people in a wide range of fields put faith in his philosophy of design. We asked Sato what he would do to turn Roppongi into an area of design and art.

photo_taro hirano / text_tami okano / edit_rhino

I would first think about making an impact

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Artist duo and married couple. They once wrapped up the Reichtag, the German parliament building. The photograph is of the Museum of Fine Arts Berne which was wrapped up with 2,430 square meters of cloth in 1968. On Nov. 18, 2009, Jeanne-Claude passed away. A special exhibition titled "Christo and Jeanne-Claude" was held at the 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT in her memory.

Since I work in branding and communication, I'm always thinking about things that have impact. If the aim is to turn Roppongi into an area of design and art, you should first think about doing something which is easy to understand and which will have an impact on people.

For instance, you might turn the large facilities like Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown into works of art. There was a pair of contemporary artists called Christo and Jeanne-Claude who wrapped up large buildings such as the Pont-Neuf Bridge in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin with cloth. Many people from all over the world went to look at these works. Perhaps there might have been other ways of doing something artistic with buildings on that scale, but the point I want to make is that you should deal with almost ridiculously huge things.

A large-scale work that can be seen from the sky

Putting aside for a moment the question of whether or not it is feasible, you could perhaps create a giant human figure sitting on top of the National Art Center, Tokyo or something big clinging to the Mori Tower of Roppongi Hills. It should be something that can be clearly seen from afar. I'm sure that if people looked down from the sky and saw this monster-like object in the streets, it would have an impact on them. It would be interesting if this something is not cheap or artificial, but a work of high quality.

I think people are drawn to gigantic things. In Odaiba, there's the life-size Gundam which has attracted many visitors. I think people are also visiting the Sky Tree because in a way, it's a huge work of art. When you make an impact that is easy to understand, you can make things happen. For example, people who had not been interested in Odaiba before will start going to Odaiba, or people will start talking about the Sky Tree and its neighborhood. You need to make an impact if you want to get the attention of people who are not interested.

Nothing happens unless you get people's attention

Unless you manage to stir people's interest, things don't get exciting. From my own experience in working in branding and advertising, I've come to see that a "phenomenon" will not occur unless you succeed in getting people to pay attention in some way. But getting people's attention is not easy. The important thing is to send your message across to the outside of your realm. I've been fortunate to work in a wide range of areas such as fashion, automobiles, and food; I've learnt that it's necessary to make a far-reaching impact outside of each industry. Otherwise you will never make news.

So if you want to make Roppongi an area of design and art, you need to leap outside the boundaries of the art world and the design world, and create a phenomenon that will appear attractive to the general public. I think some mistaken notions probably still exist that art is incomprehensible or that design is artificial. There are probably also many people who don't like art and design. Maybe this is because until now, information has been targeted to the people within the industry. In order to attract more people to Roppongi and make it an exciting place, you must think of doing things that will interest people who don't like art.