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Waka Waka

Los Angeles, lookatwakawaka.com
L.A.’s Shin Okuda marries spartan plywood and the stripped-down aesthetic of his native Japan with of-the-moment furniture shapes.

What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
For me, American design centers on consumer needs — mass production, competitive pricing. As a Japanese-born person, I think the American Dream played into design concepts like car design and the Kitchen Aid. The Eameses were brilliant in how they mass-produced for a higher design aesthetic. I think of Nike and Apple as American Design now — it’s all about what these products will deliver to your life and lifestyle.

What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I’m trying to work on a core collection of chairs, from my archive to my current cylinder/half cylinder series, and also more space design projects. I just worked on a store in Tokyo which opened this summer. I really enjoyed designing furniture pieces for a specific theme.

What inspires your work in general?
I look at many books. I enjoy Japanese architecture theory, furniture designer monographs, and old interior magazines, to look at what came before. A combination of all of these gives me an idea of how I can create furniture pieces that would work in a variety of spaces. I also enjoy working with Kristin at IKO IKO because it allows me a lot of creative freedom. I can design collections that have an immediate home, and ones that reflect my ideas clearly.

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