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Kinya Tagawa’s techno-progressivism to create a better (digital) world at #DI2020

Capture d’écran 2020-02-04 à 14.30.28Design Indaba can’t wait to host perennially restless design engineer Kinya Tagawa at #DI2020. The award-winning founder of design innovation firm Takram works in fields as diverse as software engineering, product design and interactive art, and tackles everything from moon rovers and cars to government data visualisation tools and camera lenses with his multidisciplinary team. His passion for prototyping sees him pushing the boundaries of what is possible – he has spoken about reinventing the design process and has positioned Takram at the forefront of the industry’s evolution.

Creative yet practical, his experimental design brings fresh artistry to the engineering discipline. His forward-thinking studio, which has offices in Tokyo, London and New York, is well known for integrating technology into each and every project, whether working on graphic design or product design. The underlying ethos of the business is what Tagawa calls ‘pendulum thinking’ – an ability to navigate any pair of seemingly opposite ways of thinking; design and engineering, thinking and making, abstract and concrete, etc.

Tagawa, who graduated from the Department of Mechano-Informatics at the University of Tokyo and also completed an Industrial Design Engineering course at the Royal College of Art in the UK, is becoming well known for his ‘products of the future’ – but he is adamant that equal credit must go to the many people and organisations he works with, which take these products from concept to actualisation. These include the LEDIX (a visualisation of Japanese economy traffic for Teikoku Data Bank), HAKUTO FLIGHT MODEL (a moon rover prototype), Home Shrine (an installation designed for Swarovski that allows a crystal to mediate between human and machine intelligence), Shenu (a concept for future water bottles) and NS4, a user interface for TOYOTA’s concept car.

Takram’s Tagtype Garage Kit, a keyboard for inputting data in the Japanese language, is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Originally conceived as part of Tagawa’s research for his bachelor thesis, it was intended to make typing a whole lot easier for the disabled with product design by Shunji Yamanaka (Leading Edge Design) and software design by Jun Homma (FLX Style).

Tagawa’s broad-ranging talent and training have been instrumental in establishing Takram’s reputation for innovation excellence. Alongside MoMA’s recognition of his earlier work, Tagawa has led Takram to extraordinary successes – the firm has won several major international awards, including the Microsoft Innovation Award Grand Prize (2007) and a Red Dot Award for product design (2009). He was named as a visiting professor for the Royal College of Art (RCA) from 2015 to 2018 and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship with the RCA in 2018. He is also a member of several design-related committees of the Japanese Government.

What does he have lined up for #DI2020? Without revealing too much, expect a presentation involving augmented reality and a powerful way to leverage data – plus loads of visionary thinking. Want to find out more? Book now for the Design Indaba Conference, which will be held at the Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town from 26 to 28 February 2020. The conference will also be broadcast live via simulcast to major cities around the country, allowing design devotees in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Potchefstroom to take part in this must-attend event.

Tickets for the Design Indaba 2020 are available through

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