Name: Akitoshi Imafuku
Company: Supermaniac Inc.
Position within company: President
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I wasn’t a designer when I started my career. Previously, I was a marketing director in an advertising agency, and I learned about marketing for about 6 years. Then I decided to create Supermaniac Inc, and design various kinds of space, based on the knowledge and experience acquired in marketing.
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
I suppose there are 3 kinds of designers. The 1st one is the artistic type; they are usually not affected by business matter, and their design tend to be like art. The 2nd one is a marketing type; they think how their clients’ business will be successful, and design spaces based on the marketing. I think I am this type of designer. The 3rd one is operator type; they are good at adjusting the grand design into the actual space. I couldn’t find words to explain my personal interior design style. Every time, I am only trying my best to find the key for our client to be successful with deep consideration for their budget and goal, and then the key will lead us to the tone and manner for design. I guess I could say this is my design style.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my daily life, especially when I see people that do not actually pay attention to simple moments, such as the moment of a leaf falling from a tree and how a surface of a river shines in a sunny day. I try to pay attention to those small things in daily life, so that I can get inspiration just walking on an ordinary road or even from a can trashed on the road.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
It depends on what type of space it is, but generally I feel design is shifting towards “casual.” I call this trend “cheap chic”, meaning cheap materials used in chic manner. However, I believe this trend will be over in years.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2019 and beyond.
- This is what I do before start designing, no matter what year it is: I let myself talking to the space. Indeed, I face the space carefully and think about what kind of space it is. I believe that space talks back to me every time I deeply concentrate into observing it.
- Spirit of counterculture. I try to think about the next trend because I believe that the current trend is fading out. It doesn’t mean my design gets affected by the trends, but it is very important for me to understand both the current trends and future ones.
- I put value to my culture as a Japanese. Therefore, when I am designing, naturally but consciously I think about Japanese culture, the aesthetic sense of Japan, and then I combine the traditional Japanese culture to my understanding of Japanese culture in these modern days.
- I try to understand the customers’ demand and what I can offer. Moreover, considering that time is precious, I try to concentrate on every little moment and comprehend people’s desires, although they may be abstract.
- I also consider brand loyalty very important. When I design a store, I try not to think only about the store but look at other stores nearby and understand how to create a brand advantage with an original design.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
As a designer, I must make our clients demand happen with all the regulations and rules. Under this circumstance, there is only one thing we shouldn’t do; prioritize the regulations and rules. Great design won’t be created from those regulations, telling us “this is not possible, and that is also impossible.” I strongly advise to forget about all the regulations and rules at first and talk about the goal, and then how it can overcome those regulations. Therefore, I would say: “Dream big first, and then fight the reality to archive the dream”.
How important are The International Hotel & Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
I think it will be very satisfying to win The International Hotel & Property Awards; however, I feel it is more valuable for me to be able to give attention to the project itself and present it to the world. Eventually it will lead to our client’s success.
What projects are you currently working on?
We always have 40-50 ongoing projects, and some of the projects, we are working on, include a complex of art hotel, café restaurant, event space, shared office, and a traditional Japanese hotel.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
I don’t have a big goal but just continue to put my soul into every single project.
Your most treasured possession?
Your favourite holiday destination?
It will be the beach in Kyotango, Kyoto.
It is actually beside SUMIHEI and I spend my holiday with my family there every year.
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
My favorite hotel is SUMIHEI (It is not hotel to be exact. It is Ryokan.)
My favorite restaurant is Rakushin in Osaka,
and my favorite bar is Old Imperial Bar at Imperial Hotel Tokyo.
Your favourite book, film & song?
Favorite book: Books by M.B. Goffstein
Favorite movie: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso
Favorite song: Boléro
Your favourite food and drink?
My favorite food is Japanese Kappo style cuisine,
and I like Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey for drink.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
I like having good tea at the terrace of our Tokyo office surrounded by plants I placed there.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would be a junior high school teacher.
Anything else interesting?
Since I was a boy, I liked to imagine games, which did not exist in the real world; now, as a grown-up man, I still love planning something to make people happy. I think it is my hobby.