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The Life of a Designer, Vol. 2: Ms. Asako Koyama Tells us About Her Everyday Life

6/8/2016 Interview Last modified 1 year ago

In this series of “The Life of a Designer,” we ask DRAFT designers involved in the development of D-BROS products about their daily lives. We unravel their daily lives based on simple questions that we ask. In this second volume, we talk to Ms. Asako Koyama.

–The response to the first volume with Mr. Kouta Sugiyama was great, so now we’re happy to continue with volume two of “The Life of a Designer.” Today we ask about the daily life of young, pop designer Ms. Koyama. Let’s begin!
Koyama: Thank you.

–Is there anything that you do without fail when you first arrive at the office in the morning?
Koyama: First, I make my drink. Up until awhile back, I was drinking burdock root tea but I’ve run out so now I just drink water. After I make my drink, I check my e-mails and start working.

–What’s your desk like?
Koyama: I think it’s messy (laughs). The room’s neat so I think I have to keep things orderly, but before I know it, little things pile up, and I seem to have more and more stationery and office supplies.

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–What’s your desktop wallpaper?
Koyama: A picture of Hawaii that I took during my time off. It’s been the same wallpaper ever since I joined the company. I tried to change it once, but I felt restless so I changed it back to the Hawaii picture.

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–What do you do when you take a breather at work?
Koyama: I go to the kitchen. Someone’s usually there; sometimes there are snacks lying around. I go in to brew some tea, look at the white board with everyone’s schedules on it and see what people are up to. The room I work in is so quiet that I can hear the ticking of the clock, and while it helps me work quickly, it’s not a place where you can just talk to anyone. So when I want to talk to somebody, I go to the kitchen.

–How do you gather information?
Koyama: I really like watching TV. The moment I get home, I turn the TV on, and that’s how I get all kinds of information. I also go to bookstores often. I’m not good with social media, so basically that’s how I stay informed.

–What TV programs do you like?
Koyama: Variety shows (laughs). I love the comedic duo NINETY-NINE – I used to listen to their radio program before. That’s why I’ve also been watching their TV program from way back.

–When you’re in love, does it have an effect on your work?
Koyama: It doesn’t. I don’t think my work changes much (when I’m in love). My days are quite matter-of-fact.

–Do you use a notebook at work?
Koyama: I use one a lot. I use it to initially record things during meetings. I summarize all the things that people say during the meeting in my own words in my head, so I’m always taking down notes. Sometimes, when we’re talking about work for clients, words that I don’t know come up, things like lots of technical terms so I write those down too to organize things. After those meetings, I look back at my notes when I’m meeting with the art director in order to proceed with my work.

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–What do you always keep in mind while working?
Koyama: To have a “high level of energy.” Although it may not seem like it. When I was a student, I had a teacher in cram school who was athletic, so having a high level of energy was probably ingrained in me by him (laughs). He even influenced me to start going to bookstores. He once told me to read all of the art books from A to Z at the bookstore “logos” in the basement of Parco in Shibuya. So I went on weekends, and I really did read all of those books. Of course there were some that I just browsed through, but I did read all of them.

–What are you reading now?
Koyama: It’s not a book, but a comic. It’s “Yukibana no Tora” by Akiko Higashimura. I borrowed it from a colleague, and I’m hooked. I’m also reading “Inferno,” the latest in the series by Dan Brown, the author of “The Da Vinci Code.” I like subjects like the FBI and the state. I also like the movie “Die Hard.” When I was in kindergarten, my dream was to be an FBI agent (laughs)! I’ve been watching American TV shows at home since I was little, and because of those shows, I really wanted to be a policewoman.

–What kind of music do you like? What’s in your iTunes?
Koyama: It’s kinda embarrassing, but I like ARASHI. It’s not like I specifically like their music, but I try to look for songs where you can feel the excitement running through a city. When I have to work through nights, my work really progresses when I listen to ARASHI! The band’s a big help during all-nighters.

–Is there any place that you always go to or any event that you always attend in a year?
Koyama: Recently, I’ve been going to Hawaii every year. I usually take my summer vacation in September. Every year, September is a busy time for me, so I wrap up my busyness. It’s a tiring time, so instead of choosing to go to Europe to absorb things which seems taxing, I go to Hawaii to take it easy. But instead of the beaches of Honolulu, I recommend driving a car to a beach I once went to where there aren’t many people, and relax there.

–Who do you respect?
Koyama: As you’d expect, my parents. When I first started working, I realized how amazing my father was in waking up early everyday to go to work. I used to live by myself, but I’ve gone back to my parents’ house so I have a real appreciation for my mother.

–What places in Tokyo do you like?
Koyama: I like the observatory at Mori Building. I have this unusual liking for high places, and I really like looking at faraway things from a high place. I also like Tokyo Tower a lot, so when I see Tokyo Tower right in front of me when I’m at the observatory, I get really excited. I can also see faraway Landmark Tower and Disneyland from the observatory, and I like looking at places by discovering where they are when I’m up there.

–When do ideas come to you?
Koyama: Ever since I’ve returned to my parents’ house, my commute has gotten longer, so I mostly come up with ideas during my commute. They come while I listen to music, while looking at the train advertisements, while observing people when I change trains, and I think, “so this is how they move.” That’s why my commute’s rather fun.

–What made you become a designer?
Koyama: I attended a high school wherein not many students went to art universities. That’s why I wasn’t really thinking of going to an art university, but because I wanted to make things, I thought of architecture. At the time, I was mostly studying physics and chemistry. One day, I asked my mother to buy a physics reference book. When my mother browsed through the book, she wondered if that was what I really wanted to do. That day, she asked, “Isn’t art university really the place that you’d like to go to?” So that’s when the idea of going to an art university came up. Since that day, I worked at getting into an art university. So if my mother didn’t say that, I would have probably studied architecture. In order to go to art university, I went to cram school, and little by little, I started to think that graphic design was interesting. At university, I didn’t specialize in anything particular. For four years, I studied 3D art, drew pictures, did graphic work, so it was good that I was able to study all kinds of things. So the reason why I became a designer was probably my mother’s question.

–Design-wise, what kinds of things would you like to work on in the future?
Koyama: I’d like to do something for the town that I grew up in. Also, I like liquor so I’d like to work on something to do with alcohol.

–Has anything that our company president Miyata said left an impression on you?
Koyama: About 1-2 years ago when we were having a meal, I remember him telling me, “get into things” and “race through (life) for the time being.” It was quite apt considering my personality. Since then, I’ve been trying to “get into things” by not saying no to things, and by trying to have an attitude of doing anything and everything!

–Lastly, can you recommend a nice place for lunch in Ebisu?
Koyama: Up until recently, I’ve been going to a salad place called “Crisp Salad Works” where the customers are stoic-looking foreigners and chic madams. I’ve been going there because the food looked healthy, and I’ve been cleansing my body by eating there for lunch. Although I’d eat snacks when I get back to the office.

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–Thank you!

 

Asako Koyama
Designer
Born 1987 in Yokohama Japan.
Graduated from Tokyo University of the Art.
In 2013, Joined Draft co,ltd.

 

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About the Author

Chi-na Lee

Editor
Born 1982 in Tokyo Japan.
Graduated from Hosei University.
In 2014, Joined Draft co,ltd.