Mr. Takada, your entire work life was strongly influenced by designing products. Why is design more important than many people might believe?
Design is part of everything that surrounds us. Architecture, art, products, food – all that we see and consume requires some kind of design aspects.
Would you say that these design aspects change over time?
Design has been part of human creativity for centuries, and we keep getting better and better at it with new technologies and strong know-how. To me it is an essential part of life.
You spent many years working as a fashion designer. In retrospect, what are your main achievements from this time and what makes designing fashion so unique?
I was always interested in working in fashion. Even at a very young age, I knew I wanted to create and design. My main achievement was probably to follow and pursue these dreams.
But at the time, fashion design was a rather unusual path for men, right?
When I finished high school, boys couldn’t study fashion. It was considered as a woman’s industry in Japan. But about one year later, Bunka Fashion College opened to men and I directly applied, even though my parents were against it. I had to do side jobs to pay for my study, as I lost their support. Living in Japan in the era following WWII was difficult, and it was an era of sobriety.
Is that what ultimately brought you to Europe?
I got the ambition to move to Europe after reading the fashion magazines of my sisters, which were colorful and looked so positive, and also through movies from Europe and the U.S.
And why did you choose Paris?
I pursued my dream by moving to Paris. Not knowing any French, taking the leap to try building a career in France.
So you had no doubts?
I strongly believe that people should keep a certain faith in their goals, and try to never let them go – even if you have to go through hard periods.
In the year 1999, you sold your company Kenzo, but still kept designing quite many products over the following years.
Upon leaving LVMH group at the end of 1999, early 2000, I initially wanted to stop working. Just travel and enjoy my life, which I dedicated to work for many years before. But after two years, I quickly realized that I couldn’t live without working and found myself getting bored. So I started to accept collaborating with other brands on designs in a broad range of products.
What are some examples?
By now the portfolio is rather diverse and ranges from collaborations for the food, hotel, home furnishings, tableware, and cosmetics industries. I get to work with groups that have great know-how and excellent teams. I very much enjoy working around different product segment, and getting to meet talented people.
You have now been living in Paris for more than half a century. Does that influence your creative approach?
It definitely does. My work probably became much more European than I could expect. I initially went to Paris for six months, and it has been more than 50 years now.
Would you say that Paris is still the fashion capital?
I believe so. Even if each country has its own influence and impact, Paris remains a central pillar to fashion.
What constitutes good design in your opinion? Regardless of products, is there some kind of generalized formula behind it?
Design is basically about the harmony between elements. Design needs to make sense and respect a certain identity.
What is your personal design philosophy?
I try to blend multicultural aspects and find a story that relates myself to the people that will use the products.