With an eye for divining the essence of objects, Naoto Fukasawa has emerged as one of Japan’s most influential designers. The typical Fukasawa product is not strictly minimalist. It’s what it needs to be and nothing more: intuitive, approachable, a delight to use. Fukasawa, 61, spent a formative period of his career in California, joining the brainy design firm IDEO in 1989. In 1996, he returned to Japan as head of its Tokyo office before founding his own studio in 2003. In addition to creating for companies from Boffi to Samsung, he is on the board of Muji and art director of Maruni Wood Industry. His work has garnered him numerous awards, most recently the Isamu Noguchi Award from the Noguchi Museum.
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