Heroes and Heroines- Yugo Nakamura

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Heroes and Heroines
  • Yugo Nakamura is the face of interface.
  • A student of architecture, engineering, and landscape design, he has created cutting-edge multimedia Web sites for retailers Uniqlo and Muji and the interactive, info-packed home page for MoMA’s Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition.
  • Nakamura, 39, will tell you that he’s simply “looking for a good balance between digital and creative work,” but his prodigious output suggests bigger ambitions.
  • He has begun marketing products such as Dropclock, a stunning screen saver created with fashion designer Issey Miyake that keeps time with Helvetica numbers slowly falling into glasses of water.
  • This summer, he’ll launch his “art frame,” a display device for visual content. His goal, he says, is to “continue to make things that leave an impression — so I don’t get bored.”

 Regarded as one of the world’s most innovative web designers, YUGO NAKAMURA (1970-) is renowned for the wit and complexity of the interactive animations he creates for his personal sites.

When Yugo Nakamura unveiled Version 2.0 of his MONOcrafts site in 1999, it caused a sensation in the web design community. One of the first designers to use the then-newly developed Flash 4 software, Nakamura had devised fluid, naturalistic images which proved how powerful a creative tool Flash 4 could be.

MONOcrafts was the product of nearly a decade of experimentation by Nakamura since he had discovered digital media in 1990. Born in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan in 1970, he originally studied civil engineering and landscape architecture at Tokyo University. After graduation, Nakamura spent four years working on bridge building projects.

As a civil engineer, he had become obsessed by his relationship with his surroundings. Nakamura’s interest in digital media was sparked by his desire to create an abstract version of that relationship and also to make things by hand. An important influence was John Maeda, the creative technologist and theoretician whose work at MIT Media Lab has been devoted to transforming the computer into a creative catalyst, rather than a functional tool.

Through MONOcrafts and subsequent interactive design projects, such as those on his http://www.yugop.com and http://www.surface.yugop.com sites, Nakamura, now based in Tokyo, has striven to replicate the exquisite detailing and refinement of traditional Japanese craftsmanship on the web. Technically, his work is exceptionally complex: borne of the intellectual rigour of his early training in civil engineering and landscape architecture. Yet to the user, Nakamura’s interactive images appear engagingly playful thanks to their elegant naturalism and wry wit.

Q. How would you describe what 
you do?

A. I am developing an alternative approach to visual communication on the web.

Q. Originally you studied civil engineering and landscape architecture, but then moved into this very different sphere, have those studies influenced your work? If so, how?

A. There, I found the simple fact that every experience was determined by the relationship between me and my surroundings, and I realised that I wanted to design the form of that relationship abstractly. That’s why I got into the web.

Q. What was the original concept for the MONO crafts site? How did it evolve as you developed the site?

A. In the beginning, there was no concept for MONOcrafts. I just playing with web technology. I was always obsessed with making things with my hands. Even now that’s what I’m still thinking about doing.

Q. You recently described your approach to design and production as that of “craftsmanship” and said that with MONOcrafts you were aiming “to try and achieve something of the beauty that the craftsman produces”, can you elaborate on that? How can the principles and practise of craftsmanship be applied to technology?

A. Craftsmanship is a spirit. It has no relationship with media and technology. But now I think we can actually feel craftsmanship from so many good web sites.

Q. How has your approach to your work developed since MONOcrafts?

A. MONOCRAFTS 1.0 : Kinetic
MONOCRAFTS 2.0 : Interactive
MONOCRAFTS 3.0 : Connective

Q. What inspires you?

A. Everything which surrounds me: especially the unique relationships which I can find in literature, movies and architecture.

Q. Do you seek – and find – inspiration from other digital artists and designers? If so, who?

A. I’m watching so many websites for an inspiration. Come to see http://www.newstoday.com! There are so many designers who have inspired me, but if I must pick one, the most influential person for me was John Maeda. If I had not encountered his work six years ago, I would never have got into interactive design.

Q. What do you see as the main challenges facing digital artists and designers?

A. We are still like children in a kindergarten. We’ve only just got to know what we can do in our environment. Now we should start thinking about how we can apply this methodology to enrich our experience in real life.

Yugo Nakamura in a way looks complex and simple at the same time with different colours going horizontally and vertically which i think gives it a very interesting effect.


  1. http://designmuseum.org/design/yugo-nakamura
  2. http://www.fastcompany.com/100/2010/38/yugo-nakamura/
  3. http://yugop.com/
  4. http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2008/february/yugo-nakamura-the-craftsman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s