Q&A: Robert Nakata, Designer, 72andSunny

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Robert Nakata
72andSunny, Amsterdam, designer Robert Nakata talks about Bugaboo style and 2005 print and design trends.

Creativity Tell us about the Bugaboo go book project.

Bugaboo Go Book
Bugaboo Go Book
Robert Nakata The go book is the heart of a retail-based campaign to launch two product evolutions of Bugaboo's successful Frog stroller: the Gecko and Cameleon. Bugaboo started with two design principles: a minimalist approach for the essentials-only parent, embodied by the Gecko; and a customization approach for the parent who wants choice, manifested by the Cameleon. Presenting these principles equitably accounts for the symmetry of the two-sided go book design, with the Gecko presented against silver because of its more exposed, stripped-down design, and the Cameleon shown against a variety of colors, due to its ability to interchange the fabric colors. Both products, like the Frog, can be configured in a variety of ways thanks to their modular design and the accessories available for each of them—which explains the number of panels on each side that only begin to show the variants.

C What accounts for the unusual accordion-like design?

RN The reversible accordion fold book as a continuous ring of panels was motivated by three factors. 1) The ring book design represented a continuous journey, part of Bugaboo's overall story as a mobility company and in visual sympathy with its logo. 2) In addition to being a catalog, the go book could also be used as a compact, encircling retail display piece for a stroller—particularly useful for the European retailers with typically smaller spaces than their North American counterparts. 3) It's a printed piece that we hope is as innovative as the products themselves.

C Tell us about your sense of the design scene in 2005.

RN I don't really have a sense of any particular design trends. The ubiquity of information—and consequently the ubiquity of visual history—has led to a conceptual mish-mash of vernaculars. Digitization has blurred the technical distinctions between image-generating fields like painting, photography and illustration. As in recorded music, it seems more like anything goes—everything is defaulting into visual equivalents of implicit or explicit sampling, mashing and/or homage, which creates a constantly shifting visual landscape with no specific coherent style rising above another. In an environment where a singular look cannot establish itself, the shifts become motivated more by reactions to immediate surroundings rather than a linear succession of styles.

C Which causes a general sense of confusion in the consumer, and diminishes the impact of design and advertising, perhaps?

RN Despite this congestion, I would suggest that print is becoming more impactful—not so much for any overt style but more for the openness of its interpretation. Bad media tries to simulate real experiences, defining everything outside of the person and leaving almost no space for inner, personal interpretation. By comparison, print's seeming limitations become its potential strength; print can be the relative quiet in the storm of media overkill.
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