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Saturday, January 12, 2013

From D-Cup T-Shirts to Nostril Power Outlets — the Creative Clowning of Takayuki Fukuzawa

By Philip Kendall

Quirky Japanese designer Takayuki Fukuzawa is on a mission to make people smile.

A graduate of Tokyo’s Nihon University, Fukuzawa started designing his own unique brand of “humourous art and design” products not long after entering full-time employment as a home designer. After bringing smiles to exhibition attendees’ faces and realising that he might be on to something, he quickly established his own company, ekoD Works (pronounced “eco doh”), and hasn’t looked back since.

Japan’s Excite News sat down with Fukuzawa to pick his brains about his unusual product line-up, the meaning behind the company name and the runaway success of his mercilessly cheeky “Wild Idea Mapping red Bra T-shirt”.

▼Suitably well-dressed Fukuzawa explains the thinking behind his now famous t-shirt

Playing with words
Despite being written in Roman characters, Fukuzawa’s company name is actually far more Japanese than it may first appear. Quizzed about the peculiar moniker, the fun-loving designer discusses his creative mission and explains just how integral the notion of clowning and fun is to his brand:

“First and foremost, I had the idea that I want to present humour to my customers and in return receive smiles back. So essentially what I’m doing here is working as a professional clown!” he laughs. “I work to produce items that will resulting in people saying to me ‘Oh, you made some new idiotic thing!’” he adds with a smile.

▼The long-sleeve version is is very popular with the ladies

Although probably a mystery even to native Japanese speakers, Fukuzawa’s company name, ekoD, actually makes the word “dohke” (or 「道化」 in Chinese characters) when written backwards, meaning “buffoonery” or “clowning”. This kind of a word-play is a trend that runs right the way through the designer’s product line-up, with the name of almost every item he sells having some kind of double meaning.

▼A powerful nose and no mistake

On the creation of the t-shirt
They say that the best ideas are often the simplest, and Fukuzawa’s red bra t-shirt design is certainly far from a high-brow product, but the final design didn’t come overnight.

“I received a ton of comments and criticism about the initial designs;” he admits “When I showed [the t-shirt] to my friends they’d say things like ‘the breasts are still lacking something,’ or ‘it’s a funny concept, but they need to look more realistic.’”

▼A cumbersome but charming way of keeping your earphone jack clean

After several redesigns and a lot of experimentation with regard to the perfect position for the breasts on the shirt, Fukuzawa discovered the key to making his mammaries more realistic, saying: “The contours of the lower breasts and the various shadows are important, but even more so is the deep ravine between them.”

After perfecting the design, Fukuzawa took a batch of shirts along with a handful of other products to design festivals and exhibitions around the country, including the now prestigious Tokyo Designers Week 2012, to see what the general public made of them. He admits, however, that he was at first more than a little apprehensive about showing the shirts to female customers:

“I received a ton of praise from men, but for a long time I worried what women would say. But once I lifted the lid and showed them, it turned out that the girls were actually the ones who took to the design the most. One woman actually said ‘This is great- from now on I can turn my bee-stings into boobies!’ haha.”


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