The TORINOKO Projekt –
Interview: Ann-Kathrin Müller

Designer at whiteID since 2015

whiteID Integrated Design also produced a bilingual brochure to accompany the product launch of Torinoko children’s furniture – what are the benefits of such an all-round project?
ANN-KATHRIN MÜLLER: We know the product inside out. We were involved throughout the working process from the initial sketch right through to the finished product and were always kept up to date. We therefore knew every detail about the project. That is, of course, a huge advantage to be able to promote it later. You do not firstly have to acquire knowledge to then convey this appropriately to the customer.

The brochure uses quite special visual imagery – what can you say about that?
The focus is quite clearly on the product. The room with the soft contours in the background and the light reflexes, which you otherwise only have in actual settings, makes the compositions so interesting. The background does not appear to fade into nothing. At the same time, however, it lends the furniture and the props the necessary support. The props, for example, ball, spinning top or fluffy toy form the bridge with the everyday situation in which the furniture might be set.

Was it a conscious decision not to include people in the presentations? Is this the result of globalisation?
ANN-KATHRIN: No, that has nothing to do with globalisation but with Torinoko’s customer concept. The furniture is intended to cater for children right into adolescence and therefore the target group was difficult to simulate. Our goal was quite notably to present the furniture clearly and without competition. The product was to be the main protagonist. Nevertheless, we wanted a cheerful, dynamic picture composition, which has a direct reference to children but does not show them directly.

What was the greatest challenge when designing the brochure – having to handle Japanese characters, the photography , or was it something else entirely?
ANN-KATHRIN: Sure, handling characters that are entirely new to us, always poses a certain challenge. You really have to rely on good translators. For example, so that nothing goes wrong when separating words and such things, clear and fast agreements are necessary between Japan and Germany, but is also not so bad when an enquiry is handled ‘overnight’ so to speak. The photography, the development of motifs was almost even more important That started with quite banal items, such as the choice of props, for example. We had to ensure that we did not commit any faux pas. For example, we had shoes on our list of props, when you take your shoes off before entering a home in Japan. This scenario would therefore have been somewhat unrealistic.

The brochure has quite a special binding – what is that about here? Does this type of binding have any reference to Japan?
ANN-KATHRIN: This is ‘open binding’ that is protected by a spine tape. That does not only have practical reasons but is also somewhat unusual and therefore something quite special. It does not have any direct link with Japan, although does create a bridge with the high-quality craft work of Japanese bookbinders.

What gave you the most fun about handling this project?
ANN-KATHRIN: Quite clearly, the two product shoots in the photo studio, ‘decorating’ the furniture. And, of course (as with each printed project), the moment you hold the finished medium in your hand is the best!

Many thanks, Ann-Kathrin!

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