"My sketches are really awful"
- Nendo's Oki Sato

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In our second movie filmed at the opening of the new Camper store in New York, Japanese designer and Nendo founder Oki Sato admits to Dezeen that he is not very good at drawing, but that his sketches are an important first step in all of his designs. Update: this interview is featured in Dezeen Book of Interviews, which is on sale now for £12.

"We created an interior by copying and pasting a single product" - Oki Sato
Oki Sato, founder of Japanese design Studio Nendo

"I'm not a good sketcher," Sato says. "But it's really the story that's the most important thing for myself. When I meet a new client, if I can't come up with a nice story for them then it's really difficult for me to proceed with that project."

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Sketch showing Sato's idea for the interior of Camper's New York store

Despite his limitations as a draughtsman, Sato says he still starts every project with a sketch, because he believes it helps him to convey the story behind the design in the most simple way.

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Camper's New York store by Nendo

"The process is fairly basic," he says. "I start from rough sketches, stupid sketches, and then we move to renderings and models. I have a feeling that when you're a good sketcher, when you draw pictures and sketches in a very beautiful way, it makes the story a bit blurry."

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Sketch of Nendo's Drop bookshelves for Cappellini

He continues: "Since I'm not good at [sketching], it helps me. [They're] really awful sketches, but it has to be something that everyone can understand and I think that's important. The simpler the sketches, the better the story is I think."

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Nendo's Drop bookshelves for Cappellini

Once he has sketched out his initial ideas, Sato says that it is also very important for him to make models of his designs.

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Sketch showing the idea behind Nendo's Splinter furniture collection for Conde House

"We make a lot of models," he says. "We have three rapid prototyping machines in the studio which work 24 hours a day. We're considering buying one or two more because it's really important to see the form physically."

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Nendo's Splinter furniture collection for Conde House

Nendo works in a wide range of disciplines, designing large interiors like the new Camper Store in New York as well as tiny products such as Data Clip, a USB drive shaped like a paperclip. Sato says that he approaches all projects in the same way.

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Sketch of Nendo's Bird-apartment

"I enjoy designing anything," he says. "Whether it's a paperclip or a big interior, it's basically the same for me. I'm just addicted to design and I just enjoy whatever it is I'm doing."

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Nendo's Bird-apartment

The key to good design, Sato believes, is simplicity.

"A good idea has to be something that you can tell your mother or a small child who knows nothing about design," he says. "If she thinks it's interesting, I think that's good design."

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Sketch showing the idea behind Nendo's Osaka Camper store interior

Watch our interview with Oki Sato on Camper's New York store  »
See all our stories about Nendo »

"My sketches are really awful" - Nendo's Oki Sato
Nendo's Osaka Camper Store interior
  • http://squawktalk.tumblr.com Jes

    Um. I LOVE his sketches, but are these the initial ones or are these all polished sketches done after the fact? Just curious.

    • videozem

      It's called post-rationalism.

    • Veda

      These are what his initial sketches look like, and you just have them randomly show up on your desk on little post it notes. (I used to be a designer at the Nendo office).

  • JoshuaV

    He may not be good at sketching a finished product but he’s great at simple diagramming, which is way more important as a designer.

  • sam

    I’ve seen much worse.