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Speculation of The Purpose of Life in 2050 from Kyoto - Case Study on Transition Design in Japan

Kyoto Design Lab Design Researcher-in-Residence 2019, Parsons School of Design

MIZUNO Daijiro
Project Professor, Kyoto Design Lab at the Kyoto Institute of Technology



Adolescents’ depression in Japan is one of the Wicked Problems unique to Japan. Japanese life and career situations have become more opaque due to various nationwide problems such as the collapse of lifetime employment, the aging society with declining birth rates, and the dropdown in GDP and international competitiveness. The national statistics show that the Japanese young generation’s self-confidence, willingness to contribute to society, and hopes for the future is significantly lower than other countries’ youths. Under the circumstances, we aimed to speculate a humane vision where everyone can live with a purpose (*ikigai*) from the historical city of Kyoto, Japan. Using the theories underpinning Transition Design, this paper reports a case study on the core four activities of Transition Design. We introduce the process and tools we’ve developed and our idea generation process rooted in local culture and history. We also explain prototypes that convey placebased and decentralized future visions inspired by Japanese traditional Arts. Finally, from the perspective of Pluriversal Design, we present our unique reflections on the designer’s mindset from the practice of the first Transition Design project in Japan, a country other than Europe and the United States.

Transition Design, Pluriversal Design, Local Wicked Problems, Vision Prototyping

About the Authors

Masaki Iwabuchi is an adjunct faculty at Parsons School of Design and a service designer at Teknikio. He conducts design research and execution at the intersection of design, technology, futures studies, and business. His expertise is shaping a creative team itself from the ground up and helps organizations grow their creative practice while mediating cross-functional talents, envisioning humane futures, and delivering greater lifetime value. His mission is blurring existing borders and cultivating pluriversal wholeness to overcome wicked problems in individual, organizational, social, and political levels beyond the Cartesian belief system. Formerly he was a Product Design Lead at IBM and had over ten years of business and design leadership experience in the industry. He holds MFA in Design and Technology at Parsons School of Design(2020) and BE in Information & Communication Engineering at the University of Tokyo(2007). Recently he has been organizing the Tokyo Chapter of the Speculative Futures Initiative(2019-) and was 2 invited by KYOTO Design lab as a Design Researcher-in-Residence(2019) while exhibiting his work at NYC Media Lab Demo Expo(2019).

Daijiro Mizuno is a Project Professor of KYOTO Design Lab at the Kyoto Institute of Technology. Born in 1979, Mizuno moved to London to study Bachelor in fashion design at University of East London. Upon graduation, Mizuno enrolled at Royal College of Art to continue studying at Postgraduate and Research degree on fashion design where he was awarded MA RCA(2003) and PhD RCA(2008). Returning from the UK Mizuno began to work on multiple design research projects encompassing inclusive design and social design while working on fashion design simultaneously. In 2012 Mizuno was appointed as the Assistant Professor at Keio University to work on interdisciplinary design and digital fabrication. In 2019 Mizuno moved to Kyoto Institute of Technology to act as a professor at KYOTO Design Lab to manage experimental design research projects and to introduce research through design. Mizuno has contributed numerous books on design research in Japanese as well as English. Recently He has published papers at IASDR(2012), RtD(2017) and Global Fashion Conference(2018) while exhibiting works at Ars Electronica (2017) and International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam(2019).

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