General Manager of Design Laboratory
Manabu Kawada

Today's age demands an artistic aesthetic even in design

The fundamental tenet of industrial design adhered to by Japanese manufacturers is the idea that "form follows function." Through its practically designed tools having functional beauty and added cost value, Japanese-style design has succeeded both in industrial and in commercial products. However, I feel that since around the latter half of the '90s artistic value has also come into greater demand. This is because Japan is beginning to lose out to products from newly developing countries in terms of cost value alone. Therefore, design identity, that is, a company's unique style of expression and originality, has become increasingly important-assuming one already offers practicality, functionality, and a reasonable price, of course.

What is the Yamaha Design Philosophy?

The individual designers at the Yamaha Design Laboratory enjoy relative autonomy as creators. The tradition of immediately placing new hires in charge of a product of their own reflects this respect for the designers' individuality. Another such reflection is the adoption of English as the official language of the Laboratory, so as to be able to employ foreign designers and share thoughts with them.
Meanwhile, in order to keep our designs from being purely individual works, we have adopted what we call the Yamaha Design Philosophy as a set of fundamental ideas shared by everyone at the Laboratory. The philosophy consists of five basic concepts: "Integrity," "Innovation," "Aesthetics," "Unobtrusiveness," and "Social Responsibility." While each of these concepts is important, the concept of integrity is especially so. Designing with integrity doesn't mean simply designing an object that looks like the real thing. In fact, making an object's outward appearance similar to the real thing might be the exact opposite of design with integrity. So original as to seem crazy, yet actually quite rational when you think about it-reaching this level of design requires a deep understanding of people, tools, and culture, not to mention one's own unique perspective. The notion of unobtrusiveness might also be a key concept unique to the Yamaha Design Philosophy. It means that, since the player is the primary actor in a performance, the instrument should not stand out more than necessary. It also means that, in order to create an instrument that will continue to be prized throughout a lifetime, one should avoid designs that follow current fashions too closely or are too showy. This design philosophy was laid out at the 100th anniversary of Yamaha's founding in 1987, more than 20 years ago, but I hope to carry it on as a fundamental definer of Yamaha's unique style.

Opera Piano