Redefining living well and making it happen:
FUTURE LIFE FACTORY
- Ryota Uchida
Entered the company in April 2009. In charge of design of air cleaners and electric fans as well as design of beauty and health products such as hair dryers and oral care goods. Currently not working on product design and leading the new team “FUTURE LIFE FACTORY”. From Shiga Prefecture.
- Hwayoung Kang
Entered the company in April 2008. Has mainly worked on audio equipment such as LUMIX, wireless speakers, CD players and headphones. Now apart from product design and struggling to achieve a new mission to visualize a future life with design as a member of “FUTURE LIFE FACTORY” with Uchida. From Kyoto Prefecture.
What kind of place is the FUTURE LIFE FACTORY?
Uchida: The FUTURE LIFE FACTORY is a group of Panasonic designers dedicated to creativity. It’s not like we’re creating specific consumer electronic products or digital devices. Our mission is to redefine what it means to live a better life and then work to make it happen. We’re working to strengthen the foundations for design going forward by striving to function as an open innovation hub.
Kang: The key features of our organization are freedom and flatness—lack of hierarchy. We were all product designers working in various departments on various products before coming together here. Our seven-member team works flexibly under the leadership of the Design Centre Director. The determination of what we can create here in the FUTURE LIFE FACTORY is pretty much up to us.
Product design background
Kang: I’m in my 10th year in the company. Before joining this team, I was involved in making LUMIX compact digital cameras, CD component stereos and digital devices. To be honest, I was quite hesitant when asked to join the FUTURE LIFE FACTORY because I joined Panasonic to be involved in product design and development, which I really enjoy. But then I realized it wasn’t such a good idea to focus narrowly on product design and that there was a broader opportunity here.
Uchida: I’m in my 9th year in the company. Before this I had worked mainly on the development of air purifiers, humidifiers, fans, oral care and Panasonic Beauty personal care products and then later on design concepts for Panasonic Cooking products. While engaged in that work, I always felt that it’s important that we designers focus on a vision for the future that goes beyond current product forms and categories to give form to new value and create truly epoch-making products.
Winning twice at the international RED Dot Design Award 2017
Uchida: We won BEST OF BEST for two ideas: WEAR SPACE, which provides a kind of personal space for the individual wearing it while working in today’s increasing open environments; and UCHIMIZU, which addresses the issue of heat islands by leveraging a traditional Japanese approach to sprinkling. We also won Honorable Mention for SYNC WIND, which creates a kind of virtual window for window-less spaces using sound found in natural environments, LED lights and wind-like airflows.
Kang: Winning international design awards just one year into the operation of the FUTURE LIFE FACTORY has been a huge confidence boost for our team. We’ve very focused on the culture that can grow up around our design concepts. It’s not just about functionality and efficiency. We’re striving to realize product ideas for future appliances that offer human beings new kinds of emotional value and carry with them a new take on the future.
Uchida: As the times and our values change, we’re all rethinking what it is to be human, what makes our lives truly comfortable, and we’re and redefining design to be more in line with human sensibilities. I believe that’s where manufacturing and the delivery of services are headed in the future.
Kang: Our experience in product design strongly feeds into our work here in developing new design concepts. We’re working to go beyond mere one-off ideas and imagined products, working to go deeper and develop a new conceptual framework for design and the application of technology. By studying social needs we can build great relevance into the concepts we produce.
What do you hope will grow out of this FUTURE LIFE FACTORY?
Kang: I want to reach out and make contact with creators everywhere and make our base in Tokyo a hub. Until now, many companies have treated design development as top secret work. But going forward turning concepts into products will call for free exchange between creative team members and consumers. That’s why we aim to make this place a collaboration hub.
The FUTURE LIFE FACTORY team:
(from left): Hwayoung Kang, Akihiro Adachi, Ryota Uchida, Kentaro Sako, Tomohiro Shigeura, Ayumu Kato, Tomoaki Ino