Naoto Fukasawa was born in Yamanashi, Japan, in 1956 and graduated from Tama Art University in 1980. His career began at Seiko Epson, where he designed wrist TVs and mini printers using micro-technology.
In 1989 he joined the San Francisco design firm ID Two, predecessor to IDEO. There he worked on a number of products related to Silicon Valley’s computing and electronics industry, including the development of a design language and concept for Apple. In 1996, he returned to Japan to start up and head IDEO’s Tokyo office.
While consulting on design for many major Japanese companies, he held a series of workshops for young designers called “Without Thought.” The idea, says Fukasawa, “is that people think design is something that appeals to their emotions, but in fact people are linked to things every day in their environments, without being aware of it. This ‘unthinking’ state is what makes actions smooth. Designs that make us feel this kind of simplicity don’t stand out, rather they entwine with people’s actions and with the environment.”
It was during the first of these workshops that Fukasawa conceived a wall-mounted CD player, which was later released by MUJI and became popular worldwide. In 2004, the Museum of Modern Art in New York selected it for its permanent collection.
In 2003, he established Naoto Fukasawa Design, where one of his early projects was the INFOBAR mobile phone, which became a design leader in Japan. He also started the electrical appliance and sundries brand ±0.
Fukasawa has won numerous awards for his product designs. His affiliation with Magis produced the Déjá-vu family of home furnishings. In 2007 the Déjá-vu Chair won the Interior Innovation Award for Best Item at IMM Cologne, and in 2008 it was nominated for the Designpreis der Bundesrepublik in Germany. In 2015, the Saiba family of chairs and tables he designed for Geiger, a Herman Miller company, became his first design commission for a North American manufacturer.