Awakening the Raw Material: A Dialogue with Masanori Oji

Interview with Masanori Oji

It’s 3pm on a pleasant Tokyo afternoon, our train intercom prompts us that JR Kawagoe station is approaching. We were told to wait at the station for a ride that will bring us to the studios of Oji & Design. Once we debark, we are quickly greeted by Oji Masonori waiting just outside the train station. This unexpected warm greeting from the creative director himself, immediately tells me that he’s the kind of guy who’s considerate and thoughtful. Much like his designs.

We found ourselves at his home which connects to his studio. His family, a wife and son, exude the same warm feeling that greeted us at the train station. After the grand tour of his workplace, we chat over green tea and naturally hit it off when talk of our favorite materials comes up.

When it comes to his guiding principles, Oji shares the same philosophy we do about retaining the spiritual essence of the material. “I think about producing items that have that sense of connection, as well as a sense of the raw material they are made from,” he states. An idea he terms, ‘living products’. This affinity towards designing objects that age well is especially evident in the beautiful brass objects he designed for Futagami, the renowned Japanese brass company.

With these beliefs, we feel like Oji & Design is a studio with one of the clearest points of view coming out of Japan and we have a strong feeling that he will continue to be a leading voice as part of the next generation of outstanding Japanese designers. With copious amounts of awards already under his belt, and plans to open up a shop called “Kumu” with his friends , we predict he is well on his way to leaving behind a legacy as everlasting as his ‘living products’.

The interview was conducted in English and Japanese. Both languages are published so as to not lose anything in the translation for native readers.


Written by Stevenson Aung

Stevenson Aung

April 18, 2013

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