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 www.yugop.com and 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.
See Yugo Nakamura's work at:
Q. How would you describe what
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 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.