Smoking Tools Woven Together by Designers and Craftsmen


“Thinker” “Creator” “Seller”


Urayama: That panel with the bike illustrated, is that a design of yours, Mr. Inoue?


Inoue: Yes, the SUZUKI SHOOT.
I worked at a design company after university, and I made this design when I left the company and became independent.


Urayama: And that YAMAHA RD125 as well?


Inoue: Yes. Motorcycles become a finished product around when you have forgotten you have designed it.
The motorcycles I have designed are running about town.
This was a strong moving experience.
That experience is why I can still continue as a designer.


A designer is a “thinker” craftsman, says Nobuo Inoue


Urayama: The best part of being a designer isn’t it, the product you poured love into is being used by many people.


Inoue: But on the other hand, I try not to own the products I designed.
Since according to Goethe, “love is pure.”


Urayama: You do not demand to be loved back. Pure love, I see.


Inoue: That’s right. If you become obsessed with your past work, you can’t create new designs.
So in design, how are ideas born?
No matter how much you think, they do not come out. Interestingly, when an essential design is born, the product sells well.


Nobuo Inoue speaks with the design image of a Suzuki motorcycle he created in the past in his hand


Urayama: The same with an excellent craftsman.
People who work saying not this, not that, are unable to create great products.
You can say people who think about unnecessary things while creating are not essential craftsmen.


Inoue: A true craftsman is probably a person with the routine work sunk in their skin. A person who can calmly continue the same task endlessly.


Urayama: But until you can reach that point…


Inoue: You have to battle with your thoughts, saying not this, not that.


Urayama: From both the ashtray made by Nanbu Ironware and the cigar cutter using technique for hair-cutting shears, I feel Japonism. Were you conscious of Japanese culture?


Inoue: No, I think my designs had a Western essence.
But through the hands of the craftsmen, they become a Japonism product.
I suppose it is the nature of the traditional techniques.


Urayama: I hear both are highly rated in Europe.


Inoue: Perhaps surprisingly, Japanese people are the ones that have not noticed the greatness of Japan.


Akitoshi Urayama watches the designing work


Urayama: There are “thinkers”, “creators = craftsmen” and “sellers.”
When looking for a job, it is easy to imagine yourself joining a company and becoming a seller, and is not so hard to knock on those doors.
However, it is difficult to imagine becoming a “creator”, and moreover a “thinker”, I think many people cannot imagine how to become one and be unable to even arrive at the doorstep in many cases.


Inoue: I am also a teacher, and to my students, I always say that “within the 5-minute walk from the station to this school, there are plenty of hints of design.”


Urayama: Yes, when I go outside, I never look at my smartphone.
Everywhere you look about in the city, even from the garments and gestures of the passengers on the train, you can find plenty of “writing hints.”


Inoue: Perhaps one can open the gates to a “thinker” if they can realize something from this conversation.


One of the many designs is a Zippo lighter


After this 2-hour interview, we traveled to a cigar bar together.


The point we had in common was even prior to the fact that we were cigar lovers, we both could not drink alcohol.


The two of us each smoked our favorite brand of cigars at a table with a deep single seat sofa. We enjoyed conversation.
At a different table, there was a family celebrating a birthday of a woman appearing to be their grandmother, with a long candle lit on a cake.
The two of us turned to give a small applause to the voices of the employee and family singing “Happy Birthday.”


At the counter seats, everyone is quietly savoring their cigars.


They do not exchange conversation. They are quietly resting their mind and body with cigars.


Symposium and silence coexist in the same space without disturbing anyone’s time.
This is what cigar time should be like.


That is why high-quality smoking tools are needed.


To be responsible for times like this.


Designers think what kinds of tools are needed so that people could spend times like this.


The craftsmen who create the designed tools (though they may not smoke cigars) also imagine what kind of tool they are being asked for, bring it to life, and finish it. Designers take responsibility in the people who use it, and the craftsmen also take responsibility in the people who use it.


Craftsmen do not think “I was told to make it this way, so it should be fine as long as its shape resembles it enough.”


I suppose that is the collaboration between a designer and a craftsman.



Interview, Text: Akitoshi Urayama
Photography: Soudou Kawaguchi
Editor: Kenichi Yoshino



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