Oki Sato and Nendo, the "spinning top" of Design

Oki Sato, the founder of Japanese studio Nendo, is one of the most prolific designers in the world. "If I focus on only one or two projects," he explained a while ago to Dezeen, "I can only think about one or two projects. When I start thinking about working on close to 400 projects, it relaxes me. It's like a top; when it is spinning very fast it is stable and when it starts to spin slowly it starts to get wobbly."


Nendo was founded in Tokyo in 2002, the year Sato graduated in architecture at Waseda University. The name means clay in Japanese. 



Despite his studies in architecture, Oki Sato focuses on design at first. The inspiration comes in Milan, during a visit to the Salone del Mobile. So it is no coincidence that in 2005 Nendo opened an office also in Milan, a city in which Oki Sato feels at home. "With 3D printers," he explained, "communication is very simple, I can create a prototype and send it to the other side of the world".


In Japan, the idea of designing objects, furniture, houses in a free and flexible way, with a playful and irreverent spirit, almost like a child does with plasticine, is revolutionary but proves to be successful. As well as in the rest of the world: among others, Nendo and Oki Sato are awarded the Wallpaper* Award for Designer of the Year, the Maison & Objet Designer of the Year award, the Good Design Award, the Red Dot Design Award and the Honorable Mention the Compasso d'Oro, as well as a number of ELLE DECO awards.



No wonder, however, considering that Oki Sato calls himself a "nerd", an "otaku", "a design addict." One that, to balance the hectic pace of his work that makes him travel constantly, has a strong adversion to change in his private life. Sato took revenge from life, as he is now paid to stare at a white wall with a blank look on my face in search of his next inspiration, when as a child he was punished by teachers for this very attitude.


This year he will turn 40 and his approach is incredibly versatile. With Nendo, he signed a variety of projetcs, including an earthquake survival kit, an ice cream for Häagen-Dazs and the logo and uniforms of the rugby team of Waseda University. Minimalism characterizes all hiss projects, and his cheerful personality makes him a perfect host of TV and radio programs in Japan. After all, "design should surprise people, make them happy, give them a thrill."


Nendo's creations are often the subject of exhibitions. And maybe even of some concern: last year, the curator of The Space in Between retrospective at the Design Museum Holon in Tel Aviv, Maria Cristina Didero, stated: “When Oki Sato is 70 we’ll need a whole plaza to display everything he’s done.”


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