To the place where "good design" was created

Good design, excellent design, design that opens up the future, ideas that move people's hearts, and actions that lead society always have small beginnings.

Interviews with designers at the birthplaces of good design to find hints for the next design.




Aiming at a toy that inspires everyone (Part 2)


This time we visited A4/A-Yon (OFFICE CAMP LLC), which makes “tumi-isi,” hand-processed and hand-painted building blocks, in Higashiyoshino Village, Nara Prefecture. The unique building blocks each have a different shape and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The product was selected as one of the GOOD DESIGN BEST 100 in 2021. Mr. Daimon Kanno, product designer, started production of the blocks in earnest in 2016, eight years after the first release. Why did it take so long? How has he faced and overcome the challenges? He spoke on these questions from a creator’s perspective. (Part 1)

Daimon Kanno (right) and Daisuke Sakamoto of OFFICE CAMP.

When you live in a big house, you have different perspectives to see things

OFFICE CAMP HIGASHIYOSHINO serves as a hub to generate creative relationships.

“Tumi-isi” are building blocks that you design, whittle, and paint by your own hands. The fact that you are capable of actually proceeding right up to production must be a strength as a product designer.

Daimon Kanno It may be difficult for a product designer in a company to see the whole process from planning to production, sales, and distribution. However, when we move to a rural area, we have to do everything by ourselves. I did it all by myself, and after some time, I found myself doing it like this. It is an advantage that I can design and sell by myself. Or rather, I feel like it’s beyond the scope of a product designer.

– You moved to Higashiyoshino Village in 2013. Over the past 10 years, more and more designers have been working in communities.

Kanno I think it is influenced by the fact that logistics and internet infrastructure have been developed and that there are many vacant houses in rural areas. As a result, it has become possible to live in rural areas as conveniently as in the city. In rural areas, you can live in a larger house than in urban areas. If you live in a large house, your way of looking at things and thinking will come to change.

The OFFICE CAMP HIGASHIYOSHINO is surrounded by a rich natural environment.

Kanno In my case, I came to spend a lot of time at home, so I was able to spend a long time using things in daily life. In other words, by spending a long time making products, I ended up being able to make something that can be used for a long time.

– By living in a relaxed living environment in the community, what you make and what you see will change, won’t they?

Kanno Since I was a high school student, I have often visited auction websites and thrift stores to buy and collect furniture and products from the 1960s to 80s that are considered to be classics of the era. It’s actually very informative. It’s just like, “Oh, a hinge looks like this” (laughs).

It has been 10 years since Mr. Kanno moved to Higashiyoshino. He achieved an environment that allows him to make what he wants to make.

Daily life expressed in the design

Kanno The old products are created well partly owing to their historical background. Living in a large house has enabled me to collect a lot of them. I can live with an enormous number of excellent samples. I feel that the texture and color of tumi-isi may have been expressed based on my experience of using such old products

– It certainly looks great with classic furniture.

Kanno It may naturally become something that fits into the atmosphere of furniture in the 60’s to 80’s. The white wall of apartment buildings is the mainstream of the recent residence, so I am also pursuing the old texture while retaining such a feeling. The more we use it, the more it fits in with us and the space. I’m making it with that kind of concept.

Tumi-isi under the production process in the factory. Even before they become finished products, they have a beautiful appearance and authentic flavor.

– A relaxed environment in the community allows the underlying philosophy and actual manufacturing to combine naturally.

Kanno Combining is rather a conscious state, but when we are conscious of it, I guess we still haven’t reached that point. I believe the ideal state is supposed to be something ordinary and ingrained in the unconscious even beyond such a conscious state and reflected in what we create automatically without even realizing it. The influence that the surrounding environment has unconsciously is that big.

Other daily activities include mowing the grass, enjoying in the river, and chopping wood, and what I felt from there is also fed back and incorporated into the product. Tumi-isi blocks, which are carefully created in such a way, will slowly spread in popularity over time. I hope tumi-isi will be able to influence someone just as many things have influenced me.

– It’s a toy that affects people at a deep level. Now, it has been selected as one of the GOOD DESIGN BEST 100 in 2021. What kind of response did you get?

Kanno The response was great. The awareness of tumi-isi has increased, and now we can deliver it to many people. It has been appreciated by a third party, which increased the reliability, and I have a feeling that I drew a line against counterfeit products. I’m glad that I applied for it.


Yoshino cedar and cypress trees from 80 to 100 years old are piled inside the factory.

– Was there anything difficult regarding your application?

Kanno Many of the entries for the GOOD DESIGN AWARD have been newly released or announced, but in my case, I’ve been doing this for over ten years, so I already had the wording and photos to communicate. There was nothing specia.

An organization that frees individuals as a collection of individuals

Mr. Daisuke Sakamoto (right), a representative of OFFICE CAMP, talks about how an organization should look to be free.

– A4 (A-Yon) is positioned as the product division of OFFICE CAMP. OFFICE CAMP is a creative firm formed by freelancers and business owners. The representative is Mr. Daisuke Sakamoto. Under what kind of system do they work?

Kanno I am positioned as a company employee belonging to an OFFICE CAMP LLC, but the company itself is like a management office that supports what I want to do. It supports accounting and distributes appropriate jobs. The system allows each employee to work freely, while they have responsibility individually.

There is a cafe inside the store. Wood is used to create an environment that allows employees to concentrate.

Daisuke Sakamot It is really a collection of individuals. I think it’s more important than anything in the coming era that each person works under his or her own name, not a trade name. OFFICE CAMP has about 10 divisions, with its business content ranging from the operation of the coworking space OFFICE CAMP HIGASHIYOSHINO to graphic design, website creation, branding, community development planning, and woodworking design. The accounting is divided for each division, and the structure is similar to that of a holding company.

Each person carries out individual work, so if an individual is absent, the work can stagnate, which poses a risk of creating a situation where there is dependency on that person. If we come to a depopulated place like Higashiyoshino Village and live without any inconvenience, we need capabilities to open the way on our own. In reality, it is difficult to make a life for ourselves without a certain level of talent. This organization exists in order to enhance the talents gathered in that way as a team.

The secret of the idea of “Tyrol-Do”

Magical Dagashiya Tyrol-Do, an activity to support the growth of children in the community, won the GOOD DESIGN GRAND AWARD in 2022. Mr. Sakamoto worked as a producer, director, and designer.

– Now, Mr. Sakamoto, you are one of the members of the Magical Dagashiya Tyrol-Do who won the 2022 GOOD DESIGN GRAND AWARD. A children’s cafeteria is led mainly by local communities and local governments and serves food to children facing poverty and loneliness, but Tyrol-Do has made it more accessible to children by using a candy shop and a capsule toy vending machine. It has also been highly appreciated for the system in which children can gather together without discrimination, while adults can provide daily support without feeling burdened.

What is Magical Dagashiya Tyrol-Do?: It is a candy store where both children and adults can gather and have fun. Children at the age of 18 and under can enter the store by playing a capsule toy vending machine with 100 yen. A Tyrol bill worth more than 100 yen comes out, and they can eat penny candy, french fries, and curry and rice with one bill. Donations are called Tyrol (chiroru). Adults can use the place for lunch or at night as a Tyrol Sakaba (bar), and they “Tyrol” (chiroru) out of the charge they pay there. Under the concept of “Tyrol = Magic,” people can give support without the feeling of donating.

Sakamoto This is one of the 10 to 15 projects in the Sakamoto Division that we conduct annually by using internal and external resources. Originally, with the suggestion of Ms. Yoshiko Ishida (General Incorporated Association MUGEN), I was working with her and Mr. Takashi Yoshidada (Atelier e.f.t.) on a project to create a new hub for Employment Continuation Support Type B.* The idea came out of nowhere when these members were in discussion.

*Employment Continuation Support Type B: Disability welfare service that provides employment opportunities and training to those who have difficulty finding employment due to disabilities.

"Magical Dagashiya" Tyrol-Do won the 2022 GOOD DESIGN GRAND AWARD.

Sakamoto Ms. Ishida, who works in the welfare industry, was consulted by an acquaintance who operates a children’s cafeteria and told that the activity would not take root because they couldn’t have a permanent place. So, Ms. Ishida asked if there was any way to create a place, which was the start. From there, we held a series of meetings to formulate a hypothesis about what a sustainable children's cafeteria would be like.

Mr. Yoshidada says, “It is about not attaching labels.” Some children hesitate because they feel embarrassed to ask for help. That’s why it’s important not to allow the cafeteria tovbe perceived as a place where people in need gather. I thought it should be a fun and interesting place, where people can gather more easily.

One day, Mr. Yoshidada came up with a story using a capsule vending machine. So, we started to move with that idea, and we reached the establishment of a system that we believe can be sustainable. It started with a question with a big perspective.

We can choose the environment and people we associate with

– I heard that elementary school students got information about the Tyrol-Do through word of mouth, which means that it has become a place where they want to get together. Since welfare projects tend to have a specific target group, if you discussed the idea of creating a children’s cafeteria from scratch, it would have been very difficult to come up with such an idea because you might have been caught up in that preconceived idea.

Sakamoto That may be true. It seems to have been generated by chance, but I believe people and the environment still have a big influence. This OFFICE CAMP was also born by chance after meeting with people.

With our moving as an opportunity, our friends also started talking about relocating, so I consulted with Mr. Hiroaki Fukuno of Nara Prefectural Government. Then he said, “In that case, let’s make Higashiyoshino a designer village.” As Mr. Minoru Mizumoto, the mayor of Higashiyoshino Village, provided cooperation with this plan, this coworking space where people could gather freely was created.

– It is unique in that things start moving at once with encounters. Perhaps it is because the organization is flexible.

Sakamoto We should be able to design more regarding how organizations in Japan should be. If we blindly follow a pyramid organizational structure, I think the scope of activities will be narrowed accordingly.

It’s important to do a thing properly with a purpose, but there are many paths to take. It’s dangerous if everyone aims for only one road. We can choose the environment and people we associate with. By intentionally choosing them, we can go in the direction that we want to go. It takes time to realize it’s okay to make our own choices, but I think it’s important to be aware that we have the initiative and take it back.

Yoshino cedar and cypress are said to be honest types of wood. They grow straight because workmen manage them properly by pruning. The wisdom of forestry, which has been accumulated for 500 years, makes excellent wood.



This initiative was created to support children suffering from poverty and loneliness throughout the community. A sustainable system was created by devising a system in which both the recipients and the providers of support do not have to feel burdened and by implementing it in the form of a candy store that requires little initial investment.

Award details
2021 GOOD DESIGN BEST 100 “tumi-isi”

Daimon Kanno A4, Product Design Div. OFFICE CAMP LLC.

Daimon Kanno A4, Product Design Div. OFFICE CAMP LLC.

Daimon Kanno A4, Product Design Div. OFFICE CAMP LLC.

Activity to support the growth of children in the community:Magical Dagashiya Tyrol-Do

Atelier e.f.t / OFFICE CAMP LLC / General Incorporated Association Mugen

A fun balancing object that can be played with or displayed, with the aim of cultivating a sense of creativity. With random polyhedrons and an easy-to-grip finish, you can have a unique stacking-up experience like stacking stones on the riverbank. It is finished with natural paint that is harmless to the human body. The size is designed to prevent accidental ingestion. So, even small children can play with it safely.

Award details
2021 GOOD DESIGN GRAND AWARD “Magical Dagashiya Tyrol-Do”

Takashi Yoshidada, Daisuke Sakamoto

Takashi Yoshidada, Daisuke Sakamoto

Takashi Yoshidada, Daisuke Sakamoto, KŌBA Co., Ltd.

Tomoko Ishiguro


After working in the editorial department of “AXIS,” she became a freelancer. She writes, edits, and plans, with a focus on design and life culture. Her major editorial works include LIXIL BOOKLET series (book, LIXIL Publishing) and “Oishisa no Kagaku” (magazine, NTS Publishing).

Naohiro Kurashina


After graduating from high school, he learned how to take photos from a photographer he had met at a part-time job. Since 2008, he has been based in Osaka, presenting his work while focusing mainly on photography for magazines and advertisements.