Introducing news and columns from ROKKONOMAD

Series: Mountains and Work Vol.1 RYO (Digital Product Designer)

This is a series of articles in which we ponder the nature of “mountains and work” through the stories of people who have stayed at ROKKONOMAD. The first article is by RYO, who stayed and worked at ROKKONOMAD for about a month from the middle of May. While working as a designer, RYO has been documenting his movements using the Stories function on Instagram.

From RYO’s Instagram story (below). The scene when I went out to experience climbing for the first time in my life on Rokkosan. Copyright:@lokjansen

For RYO, Instagram Stories are “fragments” of his life: a continuous stream of photographs of his days from 2019, when he left Tokyo, where he had lived for 20 years, and landed in Berlin, to the present, when he returned to Japan. During this time, he also added fragments of his life on Rokkosan.
View RYO’s Instagram Story “Mt.Rokko”

–You’ve been doing Instagram stories from 2019 when you moved to Berlin all the way up until today. It feels like a testament to living in each place at those points in time. What do you keep in mind when you’re posting?

My fundamental motivation is to convey some of the things I like about the places I’ve lived. Because I’m actually in each place, I’m getting sounds, smells, wind, temperature, and so on, but the people watching can only see it through the screen of a cell phone. I try to make a cut out the information that I perceive, such as the temperature and the wind, not as much the smell, so that the viewer can have a simulated experience.

The experience that coffee gives is not always the same, he says. The view, the weather, the time, the mood ……. Where and how is the coffee brewed. As a designer, he says he focuses on showing the “flow to of getting somewhere” rather than the just the result. Copyright:@usa619

–I heard that you lived in Berlin after quitting a company where you worked for three and a half years, and then came back to Japan. You are 24 years old now, when did your work career start?

I started working in design when I was 16. I was a high school student, but I was hired as an intern at a company that made web services, and after school I would go to work for them. 

Then I joined a company called Wantedly at the age of 18 and worked there as a designer for three and a half years. I quit the company and went to Berlin when I was 21.

–How did you come to live while on the move?

In the IT industry, where I worked, we would examine data in great detail and conduct thorough user tests, and of course there was validity to such analysis, but I began to ask myself if there was another side to it that I could understand. I wanted to learn more directly about the lives of diverse people.

Photo exhibition held at ROKKONOMAD. Hanging from trees, the photographs spin around and switch sides. It’s a unique interaction that wouldn’t happen in a normal gallery. Copyright:@usa619

If you stay in Tokyo for a long time, you might think that this is the standard way of life for Japanese people, but in reality, when you go to different areas, you find that each place has its own normal way of life. I don’t know if I can immediately apply this to my designs by experiencing it firsthand, but I think it helps me see the faces of specific people when I create things, and that’s what’s important. That’s why I want to go to various places and actually live there.

–Didn’t you learn design at a university or a vocational school?

I’ve never had any professional education in school so I’m completely self-taught. There is the Internet, and I think that if something comes up that I don’t understand, I can just look it up as I go. I have the temperament to try something first and then figure out what to do next.

–Do you still do your normal work while you live on the move?

I can produce work from any location (laughs), and I attend meetings for the projects I’m involved in. The way I work doesn’t change no matter where I am. I usually design UI/UX for web, apps, and IoT* apps, and right now, while on the top of Rokkosan, I’m working on UI design for an app that generates medical records for hospitals.

※IoT is an abbreviation for……Internet of Things. It is an initiative to enable communication with things that have not been connected to the Internet in the past, to enable the exchange of information, and to link this to new services.。
※UI/UX……UI is a user interface. UX refers to user experience. It refers to the experiences that users gain through products and services.

I bought a new iMac on the Internet and had it delivered to ROKKONOMAD in Rokko. I plan to just ship it to the next place I will be staying. Copyright:@usa619

–You have lived in Tokyo, Berlin, Hokkaido Biei-cho, Shonan, etc., and now Rokkosan. Where do you plan to go after this?

I am planning to go to Osaka, Hiroshima, Kumamoto, and then back to Tokyo for about a week, and then after that to Yakushima.

It would be nice to have a second home or a favorite restaurant in various places. Also, the photo exhibition on Mt. Rokko was my first attempt, but I would like to try exhibitions in the places where I live at each time in the future.

I’d be happy if my friends who live in different places would visit the place where I lived at that time, and it would give them a chance to discover a new way of life. Through my Instagram stories, people are always aware of where I am and what I’m doing (laughs).

UI Designer / Digital Product Designer / Photographer. Worked as the main designer at Wantedly, Inc. from 2015 to 2018, and also has worked as a freelance product designer mainly for startups. He moved to Berlin, Germany in 2019 and returned to Japan in March 2020. He has lived in Tokyo Oshiage, Shonan, Hokkaido Biei-cho, Kobe Rokkosan, etc.

(Column written by Yohei Yasuda)