Naoki Ono and Yuki Yamamoto, better known as YOY have been the young stars of the design world since their debut at SaloneSatellite in 2012. With YOYLight (2014) and CANVAS Chair (2013) being mass produced by Innermost, their creations have now been sold all over the world and are also included in the collection of MoMA, New York.
However, they seemed to have been on a hiatus since 2015, which is why we're totally surprised to discover their appearance at Superstudio Piu during April's Milan Salone. So, we can't not take the opportunity to chat with them, right? But considering some might not be familiar with them yet, we started from the beginning and worked our way to their latest design offering: FICTIONALITY, a collection of two lighting pieces, one clock, one speaker and one [surprisingly] tree trunk look-a-like stool!
CANVAS Chair (T) & YOYLight (B), now produced and available at Innermost.
How did you two meet? What was your first impression of each other?
Naoki: We met each other through a common friend. My impression of Yuki was that he's a funny guy.
Yuki: He was a person who had common topics to talk about like design, music etc.
Did you two always want to be designers? When is the defining moment that you realised that?
Naoki: When I was a child I always played LEGO, and I was saying that my dream was to be an architect at elementary school.
Yuki: My grandpa was good at making things with his hands, and I often played with him when I was a child. Then I decided to study design at university when I was 17 when preparing to enter university.
What is the defining moment when you two knew that you needed to design together?
It was on an aeroplane going to Milan Design Week 2011 together. At first, it was a just trip to enjoy seeing around Milan Design Week, but at the seats of the aeroplane to Milan we talked and decided to work together for next Milan Design Week. Before this happened whenever we met each other we talked about design from each point of view, Naoki's was from spatial design and Yuki's was from industrial design.
How do you divide work between the two of you?
We always think of ideas together and when we find an idea that we both like we start to make prototypes together. Yuki’s often in charge of making physical things with craftsmen and contractors, on the other hand, Naoki’s often in charge of thinking how to communicate with this idea regarding how it should look and copywriting etc.
Is there ever any disagreement? How do you settle them?
We keep talking until we both agree.
PAINT Light (2018) -A series of lighting equipment that appears to be compositions drawn with light-made paint. When switched on, a paintbrush stroke will light up on the plain canvas frame.
FLOAT II Light (2018) - A table lamp and floor lamp of which the lamp shades appear to be magically floating in midair.
Why the name YOY for your studio? How did you come up with this name?
It is very simple. It came from our name, Y/Y for Yuki Yamamoto, and O for Ono. Also, YOY (pronounced as “yoi”) meaning “good” in Japanese.
How would you describe your design style?
We are always looking for something between 2 different things such as space and objects, 2D and 3D, fiction and reality, etc. Also, we try to design things that can appeal to the people who are not into design very much. So we think ideas should be easy to understand without words.
How does your creative process begin with each item? How do you keep finding inspiration?
We believe inspiration is always around our everyday life. We usually start to find something from the place where a product is located.
It has been a while since you guys have exhibited in Milan. Were all the products displayed new and uniquely designed for this show?
This year was our 7th time exhibiting in Milan. And we basically exhibited new works designed for Milan Design Week.
SUNDIAL Wall clock (2018) -A wall clock that appears to be structured as a sundial, designed with a bar for the minute's hand and its shadow as the hour hand.
TRUNK Stool (2017) - A series of stools that look like tree trunks. A real tree trunk was 3D scannedto make the bark texture mold. Produced by Danish design textile brand Kvadrat.
How long did it take to create all of these works?
Depends on items but around 3 – 6 months for each item.
Amongst the products, which one would you say is the most exciting? Why?
As for this year, SUNDIAL is our favourite. Because what we did was very little, just designing clock hands using an ordinary clock movement. Also at the exhibition, visitors always had a face wondering how it works but smiled and were convinced after we explained it to them.
What will be the future of these products? Are you actively searching for a manufacturer? Or will you produce them yourself?
We are looking for manufacturers to produce them.
How would you describe the current design scene in Japan? Are there any annoying things about the industry here that you would like to fix?
Independent young designers have increased little by little in Japan. Some time ago designers tended to be in-house designers of big companies all their life, but more and more designers start to change their career to venture outside of a big company.
COTODAMA Lyric Speaker (2018) - This next generation speaker shows song lyrics beautifully through your phone. YOY's new lineup consists of two boards leaned against the wall like vinyl record jackets: the one in front is a screen which displays the lyrics, and the other one contains two audio speakers.
Would you categorize your design as Japanese? Or do you think it has more of global influence?
Both. Cleanness and simplicity may be from Japan. Humour and fun maybe a mix of Japan and Europe.
How do you see your studio developing in the future? What are your ambitions?
We would like to try designing other categories such as fashion design or architectural design.
For more about the YOY, visit here.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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