Welcome to Spectrum Tokyo

Who would of thought that the meaning of the word “design” would change so drastically in the course of time?

“Design” used to be a realm of weirdos

Until recently, “design” was often seen as a right-brained, intuitive, visual craftsmanship from the business side. It was a non-reproducible and illogical process, and the “designer” who worked on it was a kind of godly existence that could only be attained by those who had graduated from art schools. Although they were deified, their illogicality made them somewhat untouchable in the business world, which is a market based on the supremacy of logic. Just because you’re a designer you get a privilege of not wearing a suit.

On the other hand, because of this, “design” or “designer” could not become mainstream in business for a long time. This was probably because in business, it was important to be logical, reproducible and accountable for what you do.

Design is becoming generalized

However, as the digital age progresses and environmental changes intensify, the problem-solving aspect of design has come to attract attention. The popularity of the terms “design thinking” and “UX design” must have been a beacon of hope for business people who were struggling with complex issues.

Design thinking revealed its limits, and as the term “UX Design” became common to even the non-designers, we can say that design has certainly come to be recognized as the mainstream of business in the last decade. It has actually become popular for modern companies to have a Chief Design Officer (CDO). A survey shows that more than half of the companies answered that they will “increase investment in design organizations”.

Despite design suddenly becoming mainstream, I think the word “design” still holds the promise of something creative, something that “creates something out of the blue”, or something that is sort of “magical”.

Diversity of design

Through these changes in environment and expectations, how have “design” and “designers” changed? And how are they changing (or maybe not changing)?

We hope that Spectrum Tokyo will be a place that sheds light on the various possibilities of design.

“Spectrum” refers to the seven colors of light that can be seen when light is broken down using a spectrometer; It’s said to be “seven colors”, but in reality it is a collection of countless colors of light, each with ambiguous boundaries, that change continuously.

I think we humans have a tendency to want to define and label the unknown, and feel comfortable with them. Like saying “Marketing is XX” or “DX is XX”, and so on. It’s like defining a rainbow as having seven colors when there’s so much more.

The word “Spectrum” maybe will chide you with a smile.

I hope that Spectrum Tokyo will show us new possibilities for those of us who are tempted to feel at ease by trying to define Design in an easy way.

In times where we are taught to focus on a narrow target, we are ready to embark on a challenge to vast diversity in design, and hope you can hop on into the loop too.

Written By

Keishi Fukui

Keishi is CEO of Flying Penguins Inc., a UX design firm in Tokyo. Before Flying Penguins, he founded Shu-gensha Inc., a long running IT consulting firm and OTS Orchestra Inc., an open technology development team. He also serves as an advisor and CIO/CTO/CDO coach at several other companies.


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fest partner DMM.com LLC fest partner TOYOTA Connected Corporation
fest partner Gaudiy, Inc. fest partner note,inc.
fest partner STORES, Inc. fest partner Ubie, Inc.
partners Design Matters

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