The Road of My Cyber Physical Hands

Feature Story

Renowned Japanese designer Dai Fujiwara presents his latest Hong Kong exhibition THE ROAD OF MY CYBER PHYSICAL HANDS. Expect to see some of his never-revealed early works and be inspired by his Iatest design ideas. We hear from Dai about the concept behind his exhibition and ask for his advice for future designers. 

It’s no easy task keeping up with Dai Fujiwara as the man tends to put his hand to many things in the field of design. The Tama Art graduate is known for his multidisciplinary works for cross-industry firms and breakthrough innovations in his own design company. The former vice president of the Miyake Design Studio now takes on multiple roles both in the industry and academia. Currently, he serves as director of the MUJI to GO project and Shiseido’s open-innovation lab, as well as researcher at the Institute of Industrial Science of the University of Tokyo and professor at Tama Art University, just to name a few.

Fujiwara’s upcoming exhibition in Hong Kong puts the designer’s past and recent works side by side, and forms an inspiringly diverse collection. The exhibit invites visitors to see how the designer’s younger self influenced and grew into the Dai Fujiwara we come to know today. The exhibition, titled THE ROAD OF MY CYBER PHYSICAL HANDS, is also a conversation between the present and the future. “This title envisions our future,” says Fujiwara, “the fusion of cyber and physical. The two will intermingle in our daily lives and create a new lifestyle.” Using the idea of “hands” as the navigating tool, the exhibition showcases Fujiwara’s long-time fascination of human hands as well as his continuous research and exploration in the “future hands”: technology. Speaking of the curatorial direction, Fujiwara says: “I wanted to know what would exist and what wouldn’t change over the next century or two.”

In the exhibition, one will discover Fujiwara’s renowned Issey Miyake project A-POC was actually rooted in the designer’s early hand anatomy research as a university student. Visitors will also be astounded by his latest apparel creations made from drone-painted fabric. There have been voices of concern over how technology might eventually replace labour in the design process. However, Fujiwara tends not to shy away from technology innovations in his work, and rather looks at it from a critical point of view. He says, “Technology creates a production environment exceeding human capabilities. Looking back in the past, it seems that the pattern has been repeating. This is human nature. People learn, and that experience creates a new world. Conversely, I think more individuals and groups will oppose the evolution of technology.”

Fujiwara continues to involve himself in designing for a wide range of genres, but it is always the people that are at the core of his designs. “In a diverse society, we focus on people-centred work. I am still studying communication through this experience.” Fujiwara admits, “Fortunately, my work is still growing.” Over the course of his career, Fujiwara has produced sensational designs for fashion and lifestyle companies, but when asked about his favourite product genre to design for, Fujiwara firmly answers: “Public space art service for people with mental and physical impairments.” In his namesake company, Dai, in addition to textile and product design, Fujiwara puts in ample effort to explore innovative design solutions for educational institutions and communities. As to what inspires him, Fujiwara says it always comes down to two sources, “Contact with beautiful things, and contact with problematic sites.”

A former art school student, an industry leader, and a professor, Fujiwara’s career achievements remain an aspiration for many young adults at the beginning of a similar path. As an expert who has seen so much and done so much, Fujiwara’s advice for design students of today remains genuine and simple: “People who want to be in art are usually weird. When weirdos come together, most of them eventually become ordinary people. Don’t be afraid to be an ‘unusual person’. There is no value in doing the same thing as others. Thinking and acting differently creates value, but it is very lonely and painful. Your own experience allows you to build yourself.”

The exhibition will be a powerful example of what accumulated individual experiences can turn out to be. Packed with thought-provoking works and ideas conceived in Fujiwara’s creative mind over the years, the exhibition brings visitors on a journey to experience, study, communicate and be inspired.