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You x Us: Kuni Kawauchi

5 Questions with UXUS' Lead Designer
3 October, 2023
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We asked Lead Designer, Kuni Kawauchi, to talk about his path to design, sources of inspiration, and what shifts he feels are shaping the creative landscape.

Q: What cultural shifts or trends do you see shaping the creative landscape in the coming year?

Kuni: We've been witnessing a cultural shift towards localism. The rise of social media platforms has, in many ways, reshaped how people connect and interact with each other and their physical surroundings. Users are seeking more authentic experiences online and IRL, gravitating toward content that reflects their cultural and unique geographical backgrounds. Platforms are adapting to this by promoting local events, businesses, and creators, thereby fostering a sense of belonging within specific communities.

Cultural relevancy was a key pillar in our recent project for the Adidas A3 Beijing store. Our design approach was rooted in a deep understanding of the local customer's desires, specifically catering to the demands of the discernable consumer at Beijing Sanlitun North. Through a curated high-end fashion experience, we amplified the brand's story and relevance within the vibrant local district.

Q: What is an unexpected source of inspiration that has influenced your work?

Kuni: Instead of solely focusing on traditional design elements like furniture or architecture, I often turn to unconventional sources that provide fresh perspectives and stimulate creativity. If I'm developing a restaurant, I don't start by looking at tables or furniture design references. Instead, I immerse myself in the world of gastronomy. I delve into the shapes, colors, and textures of food itself. I explore how different cuisines and culinary traditions evoke emotions and cultural connections.It allows me to bridge the gap between the functional and the emotional aspects of design, resulting in spaces that not only serve their functional purpose but also resonate with the people who inhabit them.

Q: UXUS stands for 'YOU X US' co-creation. Talk to us about how you collaborate with clients to create the future together.

Kuni: When collaborating with our clients, we start by deeply understanding their vision, objectives, and the stories they want to convey through their spaces. We believe that spaces are powerful storytellers in themselves. Whether it's a retail environment, a hospitality venue, or a workplace, each space has the potential to communicate a unique narrative. We engage in a collaborative and iterative process where we listen attentively to our client's aspirations and ideas. We encourage them to share their personal and brand stories, drawing inspiration from their journeys, values, and identities. This initial dialogue forms the foundation of our design journey.

Turrell Kuni

Q: Everyone's career path is individual. What led you to become a designer?

Kuni: My path as a designer has been deeply rooted in my passion for creating tangible objects that resonate with others. I view spaces as living canvases where stories come to life, where connections are forged, and where emotions find expression. Designing spaces is, in essence, the art of storytelling through architecture and interiors.

I remember as a student, I visited James Turrel's House of Light in Japan and was instantly moved. We stayed in the building one night and watched the ever-changing colour of the sky through the night... time completely melted away. I was captivated by the idea that a well-designed space could not only be aesthetically pleasing but could also evoke specific feelings and responses from those who interacted with it.

Q: What motivates you?

Kuni: Simply put, the FUTURE.

About Kuni

Kunihisa is UXUS's senior lead retail designer. With over 20 years of architectural and retail design experience, he has created flagship consumer experiences for Adidas, Nike, Wrangler, L'Occitane, Sephora, Bloomingdale's, GANT, McDonald's and Volkswagen Group amongst others during his time at UXUS.

Image Credits:

1+2: House of Light by James Turrell & Daigo Ishii
(L) credit: Daigo Ishii + Future-scape Architects (R) credit: Echigo-Tsumari Art Field

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