–For the third volume in “The Life of a Designer,” we talked to Mr. Katsumata, who isn’t a graphic designer but a design engineer. Thank you for allowing us to interview you.

Katsume: Thank you too.

–Is there anything that you do without fail when you first arrive at the office in the morning?

Katsume: It’s not that I do it everyday without fail, but I often buy my drinks before I go to work. I like the milky tea in plastic bottles. I buy the “Gogo no Kocha” and “Kocha Kaden” brands of milky tea every day. I buy more during lunch time and in the early evening. I drink about 2-3 bottles per day.

–What’s your desk like?

Katsume: I try my best not to put stuff on my desk. Instead, I keep all sorts of things in all sorts of places. I keep my tools and materials under my desk, electronic parts in a shelf for parts, equipment and cables in another shelf – my work tools are dispersed all over. But I do have a mountain of paperwork on my desk.

–What’s your desktop wallpaper?

Katsume: I’ve set my wallpaper to the darkest gray plain wallpaper that’s in the default Mac wallpapers. It would have been good if it were completely black, but it’s difficult to distinguish a completely black wallpaper from when there’s nothing on the screen, so I chose the gray closest to black. I don’t think wallpapers have any purpose anyway, so I think it’s good to have a clean, streamlined one without images or patterns.

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–What do you do when you take a breather at work?

Katsume: A breather…I was hoping that there would be a good way to take a breather at work. I don’t smoke so I don’t go to the smoking area, so it’s probably just going to the convenience store. But I don’t think I have that many chances to switch off.

–You design different things compared to what many of the graphic designers at DRAFT work on. Could you tell us more about what you mainly do?

Katsume: My title is “design engineer,” but it’s difficult to explain what it entails. It might be good to think about it in terms of the word “media.” For example, a graphic designer is someone who uses the computer program Illustrator and designs what’s printed on paper. In this example, in order to use the medium that is paper, the computer is the tool that handles the paper. But in my case, I use the computer itself as a medium. In this case, the tool is programming. I do programming to make pictures come out on the screen, to make sound come out of the speakers, and to make motors move. In using the computer as a medium, I can create new media. I think that creating these things explains what I do.

–How do you gather information?

Katsume: I get a lot of information from social media like Twitter and Facebook. Recently, I’ve been using Twitter not to tweet, but to gather information. I follow about 350 people who are mainly in design and engineering. I don’t think it’s a lot of people though.

–When you’re in love, does it have an effect on your work?

Katsume. I don’t think it really affects my work.

–Do you use a notebook at work?

Katsume: I do. I use Rhodia’s graph paper notebook. I used to use the back of a Creator’s Diary but I like graph paper so now I’m using a Rhodia notebook. I often use a notebook to organize my thoughts, but I don’t think I use it to store what I’ve written or drawn.

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–What do you always keep in mind while working?

Katsume: I’d like to create interesting things. Don’t you (laughs)? Not the kind of interesting that’s superficial, or consumable – I’d like to create something that’s fundamentally interesting. It’s the same whether I’m creating something at work or during my own time, and it’s something I try to keep in mind.

–In light of that, what’s the most interesting things to you now?

Katsume: Right now, I’m interested in the post-screen world. I’m thinking what’s the next medium after the screen – whether it’s a computer screen or a smart phone screen. A screen is convenient in the sense that it can display a lot of information at a time, but I think that recently, users have been tie-bound by this, so I’m thinking about the next medium that’s more yielding to people.

–What are you reading now?

Katsume: It’s connected to what I was just talking about. I’m reading “The Best Interface is No Interface: The Simple Path to Brilliant Technolgy” by Golden Krishna in my Kindle.

–What kind of music do you like? What’s in your iTunes?

Katsume: I only have about 3000 songs in my iTunes. I like the bands Lamp, Kukikodan, and Sayonara Ponytail. Around 2014, the times that I’ve come across good music increased, and since then I’ve been attending concerts often.

–Is there any place that you always go to or any event that you always attend in a year?

Katsume: If it’s local travel, I go when the idea of going strikes me. I like Hokkaido so I go there often. Last summer, I went to Shiretoko (in Hokkaido). Also, I’ve been going to the Zenkoji Temple in Nagano Prefecture for my first shrine visit of the New Year these past 2-3 years.

–Who do you respect?

Katsume: Two people – Prof. Masahiko Sato and Prof. Masaki Fujihata  who were my instructors at graduate school. Since my graduate school days up until today, they’ve steered me toward the direction I’m headed, and their influence on me has been enormous. I think that I’ve learned about the fundamental approach to technology and expression from the two of them.

–What places in Tokyo do you like?

Katsume: Probably Haneda Airport. I like airports, and I’ve been casually going to them often since I was in high school. I like the atmosphere of an airport – the scale is quite huge, right? The airport itself is huge, the runways are wide, the sky is wide – it’s scenery that you don’t find in Tokyo. I like traveling, and in this sense, the places that I like are airports.

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–When do ideas come to you?

Katsume: I’m always coming up with ideas, 24-7!

–What made you become a designer?

Katsume: I first encountered HTML when I was in middle school. I then made my own website which was interesting to do. When you tinker with HTML and the style sheet, colors and their positions are immediately applied, which was interesting to me. I didn’t really like the art classes at my school, but because it was fun creating a website using HTML, I thought of proceeding along that route. This was the initial catalyst that made me think of becoming a designer.

–Design-wise, what kinds of things would you like to work on in the future?

Katsume: I want to be involved in post-PC, post-smart phone work. I think that their time is coming, and I’d like to design the ways people interact with computers and how computers should be in the post-PC, post-smart phone era. I think it’ll be interesting when the time will come when people are throwing their smart phones out of the window.

–Has anything that our company president Mr. Miyata said left an impression on you?

Katsume: It was around the time when I’ve just joined DRAFT. Mr. Miyata said, “This guy’s an otaku (geek).” (Laughs.) He said something like, “If he gets lost in something, he could do something (great).” I’ve just joined the company, and I remember thinking, he’s been watching me closely.

–Lastly, can you recommend a nice place for lunch in Ebisu?

Katsume: I recommend Curry House 89 (Hachiku). Mr. Miyata once took me to this place, and it was really good. The servings are huge. But there are days when it’s closed, so check first.

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–Thank you!

 

Yuichiro Katsume

Born in 1983 in Tokyo. Graduated with a degree from the Department of Architecture, Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. Graduated with a degree from the Doctoral Program in Film and New Media Studies, Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts. Joined DRAFT in 2014.

 

 

▼”The Life of a Designer” archives
Vol. 1: Mr. Kouta Sugiyama
Vol. 2: Ms. Asako Koyama

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