Good design is nothing without research - #CompanySpotlight

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No matter the kind of creative project that stands before them, Toshiyuki Hashimoto and his team at aircord will always go through an extensive prototyping and research phase to make sure things are just right. It is an excellent approach to creativity, and one that is certain to keep the team always active and motivated to keep pushing ahead.

Toshiyuki founded the 'air' team in 2001 as a composite of art, music, food, lighting, video and interactive works, and the company has evolved quite a lot since then, incorporating creatives and professionals from all walks of life. aircord was then founded in 2006, and has since had the chance to work with a number of clients, on a number of projects, for a number of different opportunities.

In this Company Spotlight, we are learning more about the story of aircord and how it came into being, as well as the works that the team holds most dear and the drive it still nurtures for pulling off awesome, well-researched creative works.


How was your company born and where are you based?

In 2001, I co-founded a creative team called "air", which was a composite of art, music, interactive, video, food, lighting. I ran it with collaborators who I met in various places, and we created new kinds of art expressions through events, galleries, experiments and creative activities. After that, aircord was formed in 2006 in Tokyo to further develop our creative projects.

Can you explain your team’s creative process?

The creative process varies from project to project, but what stays consistent is that we always go through extensive research and prototyping of the concept and  technology and combine the most suitable skills to create a single experience. For a recent interactive installation, in which we were in charge of everything from creative direction to production, we began by researching the key points of the theme extensively for about a month.

At the same time, we went through an iterative process of simulating the layout and guest experience, and researched and prototyped the potential technology that could be used. After the initial research phase, we went into the implementation phase, developing the system, and bringing in collaborators to create the video and sound contents. Up until the installation opened, we continued to reevaluate and refine the concept, system and contents.

How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

Tools have emerged that aid in the acceleration of creative work, as well as help to create new stimulating experiences. As a company working with new emerging technologies, it is exciting to see more possibilities open up to create new experiences. We are always testing out new software and hardware to find the tools which are the best fit for us and for the projects.

What’s your team’s secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Being exposed to new techniques, collaborating with people from different fields of work, and continuing to take on new challenges. 

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

Nissan IMX Demonstrator Project. For the Nissan IMX Demonstrator project, we planned and created all aspects of the Nissan self-driving car demonstrator, including the hardware, software and video contents, as well as creating the experiential demo device with the client. 

How do you recharge away from the office?

Many of our team members recharge by doing things that are connected to their roles, such as going on long bike rides and doing maintenance on their bike, crafting, and playing around on the computer. And of course there are also those that enjoy relaxing by going out to places with fresh air, meeting up with people, or going to the public baths.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Continue to polish up your skills. Go see lots of works, widen your knowledge, and heighten your taste and instincts. Then analyze the input and constantly think about how you can create your own form of expression.

What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

We look forward to a future where clients and creators are able to create equally from the same perspective. The client believes in the creativity of the creators, and at times gives advice and at times accepts opinions. At the same time, the creator should have a deep knowledge of the client and the project, and voice opinions so that they can produce the best possible results for the client and the society. In Japan, there are not many cases like this, but are increasing little by little.

In the future, if we build up more relations like this, we will be able to produce higher quality creative work.


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