Tokyo Design Camp #6

A Dialogue with Colour: how place and time influence the way we see colour | 2/4/2017

Herman Miller’s DNA is all about design that solves problems. Our mission is to create innovative products that are beautiful and timeless, and to contribute to the community – something we find great value in. It is this desire to contribute to the community that led Herman Miller Japan to come up with the Design Camp concept. Herman Miller Japan regularly runs these events in collaboration with the Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo (MMAT) an institute that is known for its educational workshops.

The Design Camp concept first came into being in 2012, as a way of sharing design’s potential with the local population, enabling them to experience design’s benefits firsthand through life-enhancing activities.

The sixth Design Camp was held between 4 and 11 February 2017, with a focus on colour. The theme this time was “A dialogue with colour: how place and time influence the way we see colour”. Bringing their creative expertise to the occasion were the minds behind multidisciplinary design studio SPREAD.

Led by Hirokazu Kobayashi and Haruna Yamada, SPREAD has been creating graphical expressions of time and memory as part of a project they have been working on since 2004. Titled “Life Stripe” and “Life Type”, the project has taken the duo all over the world: they have held exhibitions in Switzerland and Italy, and they have also hosted workshops at Italian universities.

Photography: Ooki Jingu

Day 1 of Design Camp #6 began at the Herman Miller store, with participants choosing furniture and accessories they instinctively liked. While hearing the design stories behind Herman Miller’s furniture, participants considered why they had chosen their favourite pieces and they explained their choice to the group.

Then, based on the colours of their favourite object, they each chose two pieces that appealed to them, and they searched for Herman Miller swatches in similar colours. Next, they decided on a title for the colour combination, and they were asked to create a story around this and to share it with the group. Laughter and appreciation accompanied their unique and varied storytelling.

Day 1 of the programme focused on how our minds experience colour, how we can discover colours from objects around us, transforming these colours into something else, reflecting on this and sharing our experiences.

The dialogue on colour continued on the second day of the Design Camp, which was held a week after Day 1. Participants were asked to consider their colours in the time between the classes.

Day 2 was held at MMAT, about experiencing colour with the body. Using their two chosen colours, participants then applied them to a worksheet as a way of denoting activities that are part of their day-to-day life over a one-week period.

The design camp participants then got into pairs and made their calendars of daily activities 10 times larger, sticking them to the walls of the exhibition room of MMAT using “HARU stuck-on design;”, a beautiful washi (traditional Japanese paper) tape developed by SPREAD in collaboration with Nitoms. All 20 of the seven-day records were connected together to create a 140-day artwork. Over the space of one day, the participants installed the 2.1-metre-high and 20-metre-long artwork in the museum’s exhibition room.

Finally, all participants reviewed the finished artwork, reflecting on the week and sharing their thoughts of the results and how they had used colour in new ways. They discovered that there were variations in the colours as they appeared on the initial swatches, versus the way they looked on the washi tape when it was applied to the walls. The participants were also intrigued by the new shapes that formed when they placed their colourful weekly records next to someone else’s.

Design Camp #6 was a fun, productive two-day event in which everyone who took part shared memories, discoveries and emotions – all of which were driven by colour. And they got to show off their hard work, too: the collaborative artwork they created with their instructors from SPREAD was on show at MMAT from 12 February to 19 March 2017.

© Herman Miller Japan + Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo 2017
Photography: Sumiko Okagawa

Photography: Ooki Jingu


Founded by Haruna Yamada and Hirokazu Kobayashi in 2004, SPREAD is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Tokyo. Yamada and Kobayashi bring their experience in landscape design and graphic design respectively to their work across everything from advertisements and poster design to exhibitions, workshops and teaching. The design duo has won various awards for their work, including a Red Dot Design Award: Communication Design, and several Good Design Awards.

SPREAD is known internationally for their work on “Life Stripe” and “Life Type”, projects they began in 2004. Life Stripe is all about colour and how we experience it, and through the many facets of this project, SPREAD helps people record the patterns of life using colour. The design studio has presented Life Stripe in exhibitions across Tokyo, Milan, Basel and other cities, and Yamada and Kobayashi have also held Life Stripe workshops in many cities locally and internationally.