A self-proclaimed “collector of old stuff,” designer Yota Kakuda finds inspiration in vintage objects found in junk shops and flea markets. He is constantly gathering vinyl records and inexpensive antiques because “the stuff that survives throughout history must be a strong object.” He holds a special appreciation for mingei, meaning “handcrafted art of ordinary people” in Japanese, as his mother owned many of these simple, utilitarian pieces—such as ceramic bowls, wood carvings, and textiles—when he was growing up.
Kakuda, who was born and bred in Japan, moved to London in 2003 to gain international experience. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2007 and working with Ross Lovegrove and Shin and Tomoko Azumi, he began designing for Muji, where his experience cemented his passion for elegant everyday objects. His creations for Muji include a set of sleek stainless steel knives and a surprisingly elegant silicone jam spoon.
A beautiful level of simplicity characterizes Kakuda’s designs. Out of his entire body of work, 33-year-old Kakuda is most proud of Tenon, a collection of timber furniture, including a chair, armchair, step stool, and side table, that slots together via mortise and tenon joints. He loves this project not only because it harks back to traditional craft, but also because it has allowed him to “focus on that certain set of challenges that comes with evoking older techniques from today’s perspective.”