Yamaha tunes into global tastes with London design hub

Yamaha Corporation this week opens the doors on its London design studio, which the Japanese company will use to gain an international perspective on design processes (DW 13 October).

The office will house a permanent team of designers, who will work in conjunction with the company’s Product Design Laboratory headquarters in Hamamatsu, Japan; and its Design Studio Tokyo.

Design Studio London will be located within the offices of product design consultancy TKO Design in central London, although the two operations will run independently of one another. TKO founder and director Andy Davey has a long-standing history of collaborating on Yamaha design projects through the consultancy, but he says there are no plans to merge or join the two groups.

PDL general manager Yasuhiro Kira describes the London base as a ‘satellite’ office for Yamaha, and its formation follows a two-year period of actively hiring non-Japanese designers to work in the design laboratory. One of the key objectives behind the move to London is to continue to strengthen this cross-cultural element in Yamaha’s design.

Design Studio London will be managed by Yoshihiro Katsumata, and his team will liaise with personnel in Hamamatsu. It will be used to gather information on product design and to ‘pursue design itself… focusing on advanced design for products for release in the near future and for products set for launch in several years’, according to a statement from the company. The office will also act as a research centre, gathering data on trends that will feed into Yamaha’s design of musical instruments and other products.

London is seen by many global companies as a cultural locus for creativity and design. Yamaha follows Nissan, Samsung and Ford in opening a dedicated design studio in the capital. Motorola is currently plotting to open a base in the city for largely the same reasons and has singled out Tokyo as another candidate city for its Motocity design studios (DW 3 November).

‘We have established a design studio in London because an exhilarating mix of tradition, innovation and inspiration coexists [in the city], attracting creators from all over the world,’ says Kira. ‘We believe our studio could be an exciting and welcoming place for creatives.’

Last week, Design Council chairman Sir George Cox added further weight to the notion of London as a centre of design and innovation when he submitted his report to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Yamaha Design Studio London

• Aims to build networks between creatives outside the company, ‘fostering mutual cooperation and creative initiatives’

• Will gather data on trends in product design, art, interiors, architecture, fashion and other fields

• Will feed into Yamaha’s Product Design Laboratory in Hamamatsu, Japan, which designs Yamaha’s musical instruments and audio-visual products

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