Rude VC: Tech Designers – Hurry over to London by July 10

Jun 25, 2013
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glass-chairNo, this is not an encouragement to would-be fiscal exiles or pigeons. Nor do I have any specific conference or startup networking event in mind as I write this. In fact, the reason has nothing to do with tech, at least not in a directly obvious way.

It’s about an art exhibition. Specifically, Shiro Kuramata, the exhibition, which is hosted by The Aram Gallery in London until July 10.

Shiro Kuramata was one of Japan’s most radical designers of furniture and interiors of the 20th century (Kuramata-san died in 1991). He belonged to a generation of innovators that came of age in post-war Japan, with friends and contemporaries like architects Tadao Ando, Arata Isozaki, and Yoshio Taniguchi; graphic artists Ikko Tanaka and Tadanori Yokoo; and fashion designers Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto. Design afficionados describe Kuramata’s work as ‘minimalist’, while ‘combining the Japanese notion of the arts as one single continuum with a fascination of modern Western culture’.

Lovely, but what does this have to do with my startup ?

Potentially, a lot. The startups that gain the most traction, particularly consumer-facing ones, are those that excel in product design. I’ve previously written about Japan’s new class of rising tech startups, which espouse the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi in their creations, and how design is an essential ingredient in Silicon Valley’s secret sauce, forming the heart of a product’s user experience.

Writer Leonard Koren, in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, while paying homage to Kuramata explains how wabi-sabi celebrates “earthiness, chance, unpretentiousness and intimacy of scale. It isn’t about perfection, slickness, or mass production… [its] simplicity is a state of grace arrived at… by an economy of means.”

Visionary startups craft products whose user interfaces are clean and unencumbered, with functionality pared down to the essence.

In a future post I’ll write about two French startups whose aptitude for design attracted me to use their respective products almost every day.

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