Founded in 2006, takram design engineering is a creative and innovation firm based in Tokyo. We offer innovative concept, product, and experience design for a variety of businesses and institutions around the world.
takram consists of a group of talented ‘design engineers:’ creative professionals fluent in both creative design and technical engineering. Our expertise in both design and engineering allows us to translate the capabilities of new technologies into fascinating new experiences and to uncover new technological possibilities by observing everyday life through the vantage point of design. Bridging the gaps between design and engineering, between the physical and the conceptual, and between the virtual and real, we turn abstract ideas into applicable concepts and tangible products. Our uniquely interdisciplinary creative processes help our clients to identify innovative business opportunities that will fuel transformation and growth.
Today we are in the midst of a shift from the “one-product, one-function” era to a new era of sophisticated, multi-functional services and platforms. In this increasingly complex business world, we can no longer rely on a traditional, vertical division of labor. Today’s design challenges demand interdisciplinary collaboration, vertical integration of labor, and innovation in the production process. At takram, we firmly believe that the people drawing blueprints for new products and services must also understand business, technology and creative processes, and integrating these perspectives to create products of a higher level.
Our activities at takram encompass design and engineering but are not bound to the conventions of either discipline. The scope of our projects ranges from hardware to software, from architecture to digital art, and from organizational communication to education programs. takram is an ever-changing experiment in search of higher plateaus; we thrive on the synergy of different talents and professions and are driven by a passion to bring new meanings and values to everyday life.
With our expertise in both design and engineering, we are able not only to envision a new product concept but also to rapidly render that concept into a real product. By integrating the entire path of product development, our unique prototyping method generates optimal design and experience through rapid cycles of prototyping, testing, evaluation, and redesigning. Rapid prototyping automatically generates more prototypes within a given timeframe. Creating and recreating functional prototypes throughout our creative process, we bring only the most sophisticated and effective solutions to our clients.
Storyweaving is a creative method wherein design concepts—the stories we use to envision our products—are continuously refined and reinforced throughout the course of product development. Just as a product is never simply determined by its story, neither is the story a static reflection of a product: by putting the will to narrate (abstraction) into dialog with the will to create (physicalization), we allow product and story to evolve in tandem, perfecting one another. Our cross-functional “storyweaving” process facilitates this evolution through workshops and interviews with management and project members.
At takram, rather than responding passively to the client’s requests, we begin a project by redefining and reframing our client’s thoughts and ideas. We specialize in reorganizing thoughts and ideas from different functions within an organization. In so doing, we see the client’s vision and values in a higher resolution, allowing us to discover new perspectives and innovative ideas. Our clients are driven to deliver the best possible experiences to their customers and consumers; we assist them in creating those experiences by integrating their vision with our expertise in design and technology.
Kinya Tagawa, Director, Design Engineer
Kinya, co-founder of takram design engineering in 2006, is an award-winning design engineer experienced in a wide range of products including hardware, software and interactive art. His prominent works include the tagtype Japanese character input device selected as the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MOMA), the afterglow laser drawing system, and a series of mobile interface designs for NTT Docomo. He holds a B.Eng. in Department of Mechano-Informatics from the University of Tokyo, an M.A. in Industrial Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art in UK, and is certified as a “genius programmer” by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. He is assigned as a jury of following design awards; D&AD(UK), Good Design Award(Japan), Dyson Design Award and Kokuyo Design Award.
Kotaro Watanabe, Director, Design Engineer
An award-winning design engineer, author, and entrepreneur, Kotaro lived and worked in different parts of the world, such as Athens, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Brussels, among other places. Whilst still in Keio University SFC, Kotaro co-founded Surroundings Co., Ltd., a company that attempts to promote new lifestyles and values through innovative furniture and stationery design. After partaking in government-funded fellowship programme in EU countries, he joined takram in 2007. An author of ”Storyweaving,” Kotaro delivers lectures and workshops worldwide; he is currently a visiting faculty of the Hong Kong Design Centre’s Institute of Design Knowledge (IDK), and one of his representative works, furumai, was exhibited in 2010 at the National Design Museum Triennal in Manhattan, as well as other international venues. He speaks and lectures in Japanese, English and French. His latest book “Storyweaving 2″ is to be published before summer 2013.
Hisato Ogata, Director, Design Engineer
With takram since 2012, Hisato is an award-winning design engineer whose multidisciplinary abilities span from hardware to software and from art to science. After working LEADING EDGE DESIGN corp., Hisato founded ON THE FLY Inc. in 2010 and produced a number of influential works including the notable on the fly navigation design. A recipient of the Good Design Award in 2004 and the German iF Product Design Award in 2005, his work has most recently received acclaim at the Media Arts Festival held by the Japanese National Agency of Cultural Affairs in 2012. He holds a B.Eng. in Department of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tokyo, and Media-Master degree from the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS).
Kaz Yoneda, Associate Director, Architecture
With takram since 2012, Kaz’s works include Shenu exhibited at dOCUMENTA(13), takram Omotesando, and News from Nowhere exhibition in Chicago. Born, raised, and educated in the West, Kaz is a relative newcomer to Tokyo. Prior to takram, he received B.Arch (hons thesis) from Cornell, and after 2-year collaboration with Tokyo architecture atelier, attended Harvard for M.Arch 2 (hons). During this period, he lived, studied, and worked worldwide; particularly the sojourns in Argentina, China, Italy, and Switzerland were invaluable experiences. In 2011, appointed to spearhead the Toyo Ito+Harvard GSD Studio in Tokyo. In 2013, invited as Studio Unit Master for the Adaptive Morphology Studio at the University of Tokyo with Yusuke Obuchi. Kaz brings expertise in architecture and urban design to takram while also exploring theories and wider application of design discipline, such as object and furniture design.
￼Awards and Accolades
- Microsoft Innovation Award Grand Prix, 2007
- red dot award: product design 2009
- red dot award: honorable mention 2009
- ELLE DECO Young Japanese Design Talent, 2009
- Good Design Award, Japan, 2011
- Permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA)
ICON – an innovative magazine on fashion, style, beauty & entertainment
“Whether they’re making smartphone apps or art installations, the rising stars at inter-disciplinary practice Takram Design Engineering always have one foot in the future.”
dezeen – the world’s most influential architecture, interior and design magazine
“Takram is a design engineering firm of the new age that features a multilateral development approach employing design and engineering perspectives.”