People | 20 QUESTIONS

Designer Takeshi Nishio prefers 'cute' to 'cool'

by Ayako Nakano

Staff Writer

Name: Takeshi Nishio
Age: 34
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Designer, owner of design office Days
Likes: Imagination
Dislikes: Twiddling my thumbs

1. You’re originally from Nagasaki Prefecture. What’s great about Nagasaki? It’s a prefecture surrounded by mountains and the ocean is full of delicious food. There are also so many picturesque sceneries around.

2. What sort of things do you design? I design a wide range of things, from houses to shops to exhibition space. In addition to spatial design, I also do product design, including furniture.

3. How would you describe your own designs and its features? I try to come up with a design that has a necessity by considering all the terms and conditions given to me. I am also conscious about how visually comprehensible the design is. For example, my Crazykiosk design was for a pop-up shop inside a gallery. My client wanted products stacked up and they had a limited budget, so I decided to create a kiosk-style display area rather than a shop confined in a space. Instead of bringing in all the shop fixtures and furniture, I used cardboard to create boxes, some of which were also used as containers for delivery purposes.

4. What’s the strangest request you’ve had in your line of work? I was asked to design a pop-up restaurant that would run for one night only.

5. Whom in Japan do you most respect? The great manga artist duo Fujiko-Fujio (of the “Doraemon” fame, whose real names are Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko). I admire their incredible endeavor and imagination in creating manga.

6. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? “かわいい” (“kawaii,” which means cute, lovable or adorable). I like the term because it has more sense of affection than “かっこいい” (“kakkoii,” which means cool or sophisticated).

7. What song best describes your work ethic? The album “Vision Creation Newsun” by Boredoms suits my work ethic because it encourgaes me to challenge things that have never been done or seen before.

8. What do you enjoy most about your job? The moment an imagination takes form and becomes an actual creation, resonating with people and bringing empathy. It gives me joy when I’m able to satisfy the clients and contribute to boosting their sales.

9. What do you think you’ll be doing in 10 years time? I hope I will still be using my own hands to create.

10. Is Japan cool? No, I don’t think Japan is cool. There are many people in Japan who are cool, but just as many who aren’t.

11. What is your biggest regret? Having worked in a company for four years for the sake of getting life experience.

12. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? “One.” I have no clue what awaits in my life and this title will allow for “Two,” “Three” and so on.

13. What’s the most outrageous/exciting thing you have ever done? When I was 20 years old, I just bought myself air tickets and flew to Europe for two weeks. Looking back, I can’t remember how I secured accommodation or how I got by during those two weeks.

14. What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you do now? I love my job so I’ve never really thought of doing anything else. That said, if there was anything else that did pop up that really interested me, I’d like to give that a try, too. I believe all jobs require a creative mind.

15. How do you relax when you aren’t working? I enjoy good food, listen to music I like and sleep well — in a place other than my house.

16. What would you take to a lonely island with you? A sleeping bag. Having lots of sleep helps me refresh my mind and that will help me to think about various things that may occur.

17. In a word, what is “design”? A concept with love.

18. If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be? I’d be Charlie Brown from “Snoopy,” because he’s always positive and surrounded by wonderful friends.

19. You were in Taiwan for two weeks in September with an artist-in-residence program. How was that? It was stimulating to realize that concepts I was considering, without the notion of the outside world, can actually resonate in a different culture. I’ll probably visit Taiwan again next year to do some workshops.

20. I hear you will be going to Germany next year. What will you be doing? I’m going to attend the international consumer goods trade fair, Ambiente, which is held in Frankfurt. I plan to showcase my new furniture designs there.

For more information about Takeshi Nishio and his work, visit