The Dwell 24: Kazuki Guzmán

The Dwell 24: Kazuki Guzmán

By Dwell
The Chicago-based designer is using his Japanese heritage to reimagine hammers and mallets.

Kazuki Guzmán has called many countries home—Chile, South Korea, and, most recently, the U.S. But the traditional craft of his native Japan led Guzmán to devote his Chicago-based practice to how technology might augment and sustain ancient art forms—"how they could cohabitate," as he puts it. 

This May he unveiled a series of reimagined hammers and mallets, some of which combine patinated 3D-printed steel heads with lathed or CNC-machined handles. It’s design by way of anthropology: "When we lose these traditions," Guzmán says, "we’re losing part of our history and part of ourselves."

Learn what Guzmán wishes all non-designers would know, plus read more of his responses to our Q&A, below.

An alternative hammer design by Kazuki Guzmán

Hometown: Yokohama, Japan

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I design domestic objects. My current work focuses on mingei, Japanese folkcrafts, as a methodology for an appreciation of handmade culture.

What's the last thing you designed? A collection of hammers.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Playing with my sons.

How do you procrastinate? Playing with my sons.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? I would like to redesign making tools such as saws, planes, clamps, and so on. I feel like modern tools are engineered but not necessarily aestheticized or designed all the time. I see this as both a frustration and an opportunity.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Charlotte Perriand and Sori Yanagi.

What skill would you most like to learn? Working with textiles: Weaving, stitching, upholstery, etc.

What is your most treasured possession? Kokeshi, which are traditional wooden dolls from Japan.What'sr earliest memory of an encounter with design?Alexander Girard and his textile designs. I had a collection of t-shirts in middle school that I loved and would always wear, later realizing that all the graphics were designed by Girard.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? The messy, ugly-pretty designs. However, it's highly possible that I am actually secretly in love with these aesthetics and just being jealous because I can't bring myself to work in these ways.

Finish this statement: All design should...serve a purpose, whether it be physical or emotional.

What’s in your dream house? Slides and swings.

Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn a new skill while in quarantine? What was it? I'm trying to learn how to skateboard for the first time at age 32.

How do you think the pandemic will affect residential design in the future? What about workplace or commercial design? That's a hard one to predict, but it would be funny if everyone started using materials that are easily cleaned and sanitized.

How can the design world be more inclusive? By looking outside of the industry and mindfully listening to the makers who have yet to access to the design world.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? That the design industry is not always a fancy, luxurious one. There are so many designers working tirelessly to make ends meet. 

You can learn more about Guzmán by visiting his website or on Instagram

The Dwell 24 2020

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