A cosmopolitan designer on how design in Japan is different from the UK

Albert had the pleasure to chat with Rieko, an established visual designer working in both United Kingdom and Japan. She talks to us about design in Japan and the UK, Funassyi, being a freelancer, and how Albert helps her with her finances.

1. Hi Rieko, you have done ground-breaking design work for big corporates and small startups? What does it mean to be a designer for both worlds?

Rieko: I am trying to follow an important design philosophy. I still have a long way to go but one thing I have learned is "always to approach a brief with the most creative and artistic manner, as if creating a new trend".

This approach, suggested to me by a respected Creative Director, was something special to me especially focusing on an artistic perspective which I enjoy the most. I imagine wherever you design, if you have this attitude, you can be successful.

2. You’ve seen design in Japan and now in UK. What do you see as great differences and similarities in design in these two cultures?

Rieko: In Japan we have minimal, craftsmanship and quirky design living together. In the UK I have seen well crafted beautiful designs. But when it comes to the quirkiness of design, Japanese design is a different level. One good example is a very quirky character called Funassyi which is a mascot character designed to promote the city of Funabashi. This kind of character design doesn’t exist in the UK but is very popular and well received in Japan. Funassyi even has his own twitter account and you only need to see the number of followers to get an idea of his popularity: http://twitter.com/funassyi

3. Why did you decide to be a freelance designer?

Rieko: Freelance work allows me to spend time in a more flexible way and gives me a choice on what projects I get involved in. At this moment my partner and I run a small design studio together called More Air and do design work for both English and Japanese clients. This has allowed me to be exposed to working with well respected global brands as well exciting start ups that are doing great things across two very different cultures. I also keep myself available as a freelancer for when the right projects become available.

4. How can Albert help freelancer designers?

Rieko: When I work as a freelancer, Albert is a great help as I do not need to spend lots of time dealing with the financials and I can concentrate more time on my design work. I find this brilliant. It feels great to be an independent freelancer and have freedom while my financial work is handled by Albert. I was very happy to meet him :)

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