Kazuo Tanaka

Kazuo Tanaka graduated in 1983 from Tokyo University of the Arts, majored in industrial design. He is president and CEO of the GK Design Group, a comprehensive freelance design office in Japan founded in 1952 by Kenji Ekuan. Kazuo Tanaka has been elected president of the Japan Industrial Designers Association (JIDA) and taking on many kinds of activities since 2013.

In 2007, he was elected member of the board of directors of the World Design Organization (formerly Icsid) and has been active, also as a regional adviser, in many international programmes. Kazuo Tanaka has also been serving as a board member of Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP), as a member of the Study Group on the Relation between Industrial Competitiveness and Design and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). He also has been involved as a juror in many international design promotion activities and was awarded the Good Design Award Prime Minister Prize, the SDA Grand Prize and many other awards.

Kazuo Tanaka

Red Dot in an interview with Kazuo Tanaka

Red Dot: What characterises Japanese design?
Kazuo Tanaka: From a formative viewpoint, Japanese designs are simple and exquisitely worked. From a wider aspect of value, innovation is emphasised to improve society.

How do products become real classics?
The revival of hardware designs is noticeable in Japan today. Lives will be enriched in a real sense with high quality hardware designs, not only through solutions to problems and new services. The value of a classic approach enhances design. For this, however, a highdimensional integration of tangible and intangible things into a design is required.

What is the significance of design quality for a company’s economic success?
We need to satisfy consumers with innovative systems and services and products with a high design quality. In recent years, the value of innovation has become more enhanced, but economic success for business corporations cannot be achieved with this alone. A comprehensive point of view and an uncompromising and severe eye for design quality are indicative of business success.