Manager of the Advanced Design GroupYoshihiro Katsumata

Design—Giving Not Just Shape, but Vision

Yoshihiro Katsumata


Joined Yamaha in 1993. Primarily responsible for electronic musical instruments and audio-visual equipment. Worked on products such as Disklavier Pro 2000, MusicCAST, and MODUS. After working on advanced projects, he moved to London in 2005, where he helped launch Design Studio London. Returned to Japan in 2008, where he currently acts as manager of the Advanced Design Group.

The impact of the KATANA during junior high

My father was an industrial designer, so I was familiar with the notion of design from a relatively early age. Because of my father's work, we had various design magazines and charts around our house, which I read instead of picture books as a child, thinking that design seemed kind of cool. It was after that, in junior high, that I became fully aware of design as a profession. There was a reason for this-a KATANA motorcycle, with its striking new design, parked in a lot near our house. I still remember to this day how it looked. The KATANA with its unique form shone in the setting sun, and the once familiar parking lot was somehow transformed into a special place. That had a big impact on me. I also understood in a schoolboy's way that design was all about producing this sort of impact. After that, I wanted to be the one doing the producing, and my admiration for industrial design deepened.

Dreams of a fusion between technology and handcraftsmanship

As I studied to become an industrial designer, my interests naturally expanded to include the fine arts, as well. I began to think that perhaps the essence of the impact that the KATANA had on me lay within the fine arts, handicrafts, and modern art. It was for that reason that I kept one foot in the field of modern art while at university, even as I dreamt of a career in industrial design.
One example of a work I produced in collaboration with fellow aspiring artists was entitled Hanatsu ("Releasing"). It consisted of three "walking desks," constructed by attaching automatically moving electronic legs to desks, then allowing them to roam free within a room. While I was fascinated by experimental works like this, it was the profound impact I felt from the graduation project of Soichiro Tanaka, one of my older college classmates who joined the Yamaha Design Laboratory, that led me to finally decide that I was more interested in industrial design. It was a musical instrument that attempted to fuse high technology with handcraftsmanship, connecting tradition and innovation, with a warmth possessed only by instruments of artistic expression. I thought to myself, "This is what I want to create." It was seeing that graduation project that made me want to become a designer of musical instruments, as well.