Oshibori heating/refrigeration unit REION won 2018 Good Design award.
To celebrate this wonderful moment to get this prize firstly in the industry, we introduces comments from Katsuyuki Fujinami, President and CEO of FSX, and Ryuichi Kozeki, REION’s product designer.
Omotenashi culture to the world using Oshibori
Katsuyuki Fujinami President & CEO FSX,Inc
This time I am very proud that our Oshibori heating/refrigeration unit has been awarded Good Design 2018. I really want to thank everyone who helped us.
In recent years Oshibori is getting highly noticed in Japan. It is indicated in our interview cards that so many people say they love Oshibori. On the other hand, our business is tended to be seen like “an invisible industry” honestly speaking. Oshibori and its unit have been just a price-matter. Oshibori has been there but too common at the restaurants, so no specific attention was ever paid. We are also the same. We imported the units from China as OEM to sell them cheaper and larger in the Japanese market. This was the way in the industry, and the way killed us. We could not wipe negative images like “Oshibori is disposable and no need to design” away.
Now the situation of our market becomes serious to survive in the future. It has become mandatory both to change the image for the industry to positive one and to change the mind of people around this business to the positive direction. To accomplish it, I reached to mind two key-success-factors. One is to spawn a highly qualified Oshibori heating/refrigeration product from Japan, that is, the product is designed, laid out and manufactured in Japan. The next is to sell them widely – not only to the current market but also to the fitness clubs, offices and home users, and sell them not only in Japan but also overseas. Beyond these logical reasons, I always wanted to build a new business that offered high challenges. Thus, development of Japanese Oshibori heating/refrigeration unit now officially became a company-matter
We have set “products that empathize for people” and “products that satisfy people” minds forefront towards the Oshibori-related products we developed. Those are about looks for overstatement. For this production, we have set the third mind-set “a product that lives along with people”. We needed to have a suitable designer to make this happen.
When I met with Mr. Kozeki, for the first time, I felt he had a wonderful designer’s ability and that his products naturally melted into the human life. I still remember the moment when I had my first intuitive feeling that we would be able to create a new Oshibori unit that we never seen before. The actual development was not easy at all. In fact, it was lacked from our experiences. Regarding those troublesome times I am so sorry for the team, including Mr. Kozeki, but we learned a lot from it and now it has become a precious property for the company.
A product cshibori” is a tool that lives along people. Though it never insists its presence strongly, it surely represents safe and warm hospitality when we use it. I hope this award will become a chance to tell how Oshibori is wonderful to the world and as our company introduces Omotenashi through Oshibori, we continue design-focused approaches and work hard to better our product developments.
Product to exist like an Oshibori
I am very pleased to know that this has received the first good design award in the Oshibori industry.
We commonly notice Oshibori are served in many facilities including restaurants, but I didn't receive impressions that products around Oshibori service were appropriately designed as well. This present situation was the single cause for me to accept the challenge of Oshibori heating/refrigeration unit design. Also, the one thing that backed this decision was the enthusiasm from Mr. Fujinami, who faces the challengers to disrupt and venture into a new future for Oshibori distribution.
In order to avoid competitors’designs, the design of REION is aimed to be a thin box. This way is similar to Oshibori and offers a nostalgic appearance that invites a feeling of security and comfort. However, as the operation has to be in direct contact towards the users, slight standing outs have been added. An analog feeling reminded when Oshibori was not suitable for digital and high-tech interface like using a membrane (*). Days of thinking had given me a solution to put a dial switch. Ease of operation is gained incredibly and now the unit has got a suitable UX/UI for Oshibori. That dial switch set at a bit higher than the main body is still operational when the body unit is stacked. Also LED indication gives a feeling of safety at a glance.
Also, a plastic body always tends to give a “cheap” impression, also design was added not to feel plastic's characteristic thickness. You might not realize it if I don't say so. However according to the rule of "90% of people find 10% of differences", we would see entirely different figures from this solid feeling unless the unit body has these details. As a result, the product fits in any places smoothly and seamlessly.
The hardest challenge of this project was how to maintain and share the originally written REION's to be images among many engineers. As the design got simpler, the hurdle that the engineers had to clear got higher. Sometimes this caused a productivity issue. There were so many pitfalls for the designers. Especially to make a light current type of hardware that offered a cosmetic design that only covered the product.
If the design ended up with indicating a figure, not only we missed Good Design Award but also the product might have lacked differentiation from current other products. We discussed every issue and turned back to the basics such as "What is the purpose of the design for" or "Who are we developing the product for". These persevering efforts finally enabled us to realize the product and to meet with the goal.
It is not easy for the non-hardware makers both to develop a new product that uses electricity or heats and to sell it. I think this project finally has come true by Mr. Fujinami's energized will. I believe that the birth of REION will definitely help the growth of Oshibori and Omotenashi culture. I wish for FSX's dream to come true and hope this type of case stimulates many companies for the future.
※A stuff like clear film with printing on the switches. Seen well on the washing machines. It has several merits including a waterproof while you can see the LED settled below and easiness at product modification as you just change that printing.