Democratic design wins for Tokyo based designer Yu Ito

Linito  -  Indoor/Outdoor chair and stool in folded laser cut sheet metal 



Yu Ito portrait

Designer • Yu Ito


Yu Ito a Tokyo based industrial designer is forging relationships and designing products that won the attention of the design community and the Italian democratic company Formabilio. The start-up democratic company has noteworthy sustainable design practices and encourages the community to give suggestions and comments on projects, products, and buying systems.

Yu began his career after attending (RISD) Rhode Island School of Design. His latest project is Linito a chair and stool made of folded laser cut sheet aluminum that reminds you of a royal throne. The rigor of the base is lightened by the vibrant colors.  The chair and stool combination is sure to enliven any modern living space and is also suitable for outdoor use. The chair and stool can be found here.


fold_useFold hanger - in abs plastic 


Luckily through time and distance we were able to get a few words from the designer about his approach to design and his burgeoning career as a furniture and product designer.

When did you know you wanted to be a designer? 

I always loved making things with my hands ever since I was little. I think it was later on in high school or college that I started thinking about becoming a designer as my career.

Does your culture inform your design work? 

Yes, definitely. One is about not wasting materials. Another one is about the space-conscious design. A traditional Japanese room was designed to be used as a living room, dining room, and a bedroom, so it requires some space-conscious and transforming furniture pieces. While most of us today do not live in a room like that today, I still tend to look for solutions that are minimal and flexible.

How did you form a relationship to work with Formabilio? 

I saw one of their products on a blog one day. It was a sofa whose arms turn into separate single seaters. The transforming aspect of the piece made me think that my approach would fit what they were looking for. I submitted some design proposals and I was fortunate enough to have them picked by the company.

Have there been any particular experiences that shaped your design principles or philosophy? 

When I was little, there was a big cardboard box in a corner of my room where my mother threw used packages like empty milk cartons, egg cartons, and paper roll cores for me to make toy robots and cars out of. Looking back, I feel that my design approach comes from the childhood practice of looking at what is available and seeking the potentials in those materials or resources.


trayplus5Tray plus - wooden stationary container 


What is your approach to developing ideas for your projects?

I start out a project by clarifying all the constraints and potentials such as materials, manufacturing methods, users, target prices, and so on. Once I know the general direction, I make some scale models to experience the item both from the maker’s side and the user’s side. I will keep going back and forth between discussing and sketching/model-making until it gets to the point where both the clients and I feel it is ready.

Do you have any new projects that you are excited about working on?

I am excited about the tubular magnesium furniture series I have been working on with a start-up company called MACRW. We are getting several chairs ready for production and sales. The chairs can be found here.

mt002_3MT002 - tubular magnesium  sheet metal chair 

What kinds of things interest you outside of design? 

I enjoy ordinary things such as going on a picnic or having drinks with my friends and family. I also like cooking - every time I cook, I feel the similarities between cooking meals and designing objects.

Do you have any advice for people considering pursuing a career in furniture or product design? 

I suggest doing varieties of things and going to new places to experience different cultures. Those "extracurricular activities" will better you as a designer.

Images courtesy of Yu Ito




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