Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation
The innovative prototype work of world-renowned design engineer and Professor at the University of Tokyo, Yamanaka Shunji, acts as a link between cutting-edge technology and society, and offers us a glimpse into the structures and textures of the future.
Between 16 January and 17 March 2019, Japan House London showed Yamanaka’s prototypes as part of the interactive ‘Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation’ exhibition.
It presented three core themes for visitors to explore: ‘Prosthetics’, a range of interpretations of the “expanded human body”; ‘Bio-likeness robots’, robots with life-like motion and behaviour, giving the impression of intelligence; and ‘Additive Manufacturing’, the taking of prototyping to the next level with 3-D printing which has allowed engineers and designers to create infinitely more complex prototypes.
An example of such prototypes is ‘Ready to Crawl’, a series of robots which are ‘born’ fully formed just like a living thing. Their parts are created all at the same time, fully assembled, and with form and movement that closely mirrors living things.
About Professor Yamanaka Shunji
Founder of Leading Edge Design and Professor at the University of Tokyo, Professor Yamanaka Shunji is one of the most respected design engineers in Japan, with previous works ranging from wristwatches to railway carriages. Recently, Yamanaka’s projects include beautiful prosthetics and life-like robots that re-examine the relationship between humans and machines. Numerous honours include: the 2004 Mainichi Design Award, the iF Design Award, and multiple Good Design Awards (backed by the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Infrastructure). His 2010 work, Tagtype Garage Kit, is part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.