What did Steve Jobs find in Japan? Jun 6 at 9:17

Introduced in 1998 by Apple founder Steve Jobs, the iMac was a global hit with its translucent, colorful body and rounded, friendly design.

It has become clear that traditional pottery from Japan may have been a great inspiration for this design. What did Jobs find in Japan throughout his life?

John Scully, a former ally of Jobs and former CEO of Apple Computer, unraveled.
(World News Department, Kentaro Saeki)

Strong interest in Japan pottery

Scully worked closely with Jobs for three years, from the fall of 1982 to 1985. Scully, who was bought by marketing skills at a major beverage manufacturer, began to get to know Jobs.

After becoming CEO of Apple Computer in April 3, he and Jobs developed a very close relationship called the "Dynamic Duo."

According to Scully, Jobs got his design inspiration in Kyoto, where he had visited many times. When the two visited Tokyo for work with Sony and other companies, they often traveled to Kyoto to see gardens and kabuki.

Jobs loved experiencing Japan culture, especially staying in traditional inns. He was fascinated by the pottery vessels used for meals.

: "Steve touched the pottery, picked it up, felt it, and asked questions slowly. I asked them where they could get this soil, what the craftsmen were thinking, and whether they had been making this kind of thing before. He was very eager to know about the process of making pottery and the way craftsmen think."

This was not the only time Jobs showed a keen interest in pottery.

In March 1983, Scully met Jobs in New York after returning from Japan, and the two of them went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jobs spoke enthusiastically as he looked at the Japan pottery on display.

"John, look at the material of that pottery," "Look at the details,"

"Even if there are imperfections, they are part of making it perfect as a whole."

Scully: "Steve was very particular about the details of pottery, and he was thinking about how to incorporate what Japan culture had cultivated into his products. I think that's one of the reasons why he was fascinated by Sony's products. This is because the attention to detail was felt in the product. In him, there was a connection between what Sony was doing and Japan art."

Enthusiastic pottery tour

After that, whenever Jobs visited Kyoto, he would eagerly look around the galleries where the ceramics were located, and when he came across a work he liked, he would buy several of them. The way I liked it was intuitive and uneventful.

In April 1996, this happened at a gallery in front of Shinmon, which is dotted with antique art dealers and galleries in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City.

The gallery was closed that day, but Jobs and his wife were peering at the ceramic works on display from under the blinds in the shop window. By chance, the owner's wife came down from the second floor and noticed the two of them, and entered the store. Then Jobs came in and pointed to the three pottery he wanted.

This photo was taken to commemorate the purchase of the work. This is the only photograph of Jobs with pottery in Kyoto. He was away from Apple at the time and was a producer on the movie "Toy Story" at Pixar.

Four days earlier, Jobs had also visited another gallery in Kyoto. It was the first day of the first solo exhibition held in Kyoto by Yukio Satonaga, an artist of Etchu Seto ware that has been in Toyama Prefecture for more than 4 years.

Here, too, Jobs and his wife waited patiently in front of the store 400 minutes before it opened. Mr. Satonaga was busy with preparations, but he had no choice but to enter the store before opening.

At this time, Jobs bought a few items and asked Mr. Satonaga if he could make a vessel for himself.

Of all the items he ordered, what left an impression on Mr. Satonaga was his commitment to "rounding the corners" for square plates.

. Satonaga: "When I wrote, 'I want it to be this round,' Mr. Jobs said, 'I want you to make it more boldly round, I want you to do it this way.' If the corners are slightly stroked and the shoulders are gently curved, it is easy to follow the shape with the palm of your hand. I think the feeling of holding it in the hand is quite different between having horns and not having horns. I think it's charming."

Inspired by roundness

Jobs was particular about the natural roundness handmade by craftsmen. Robert Yellin, who was serializing a ceramic column in an English-language newspaper at the time, testified to this. One day, Apple asked me to show him around because Jobs wanted to look around pottery.

Yellin and Jobs toured Tokyo, visiting two galleries and a private collector.

Jobs liked the Shigaraki pots from around the 2th century. Because it resembles the way a person squats, it is called "squawling".

Robert Yellin:
"He was very interested in the 'hoof': he picked it up and turned it, patted it on the shoulder, traced the curves, looked at the bottom, looked at the look of the soil. I really liked the curve of the shoulders. "When I see this natural curve, it feels so good, it's soft and romantic." He said, 'I want to incorporate this kind of gentle shoulder feel into my products.' I think I got a lot of hints from looking at the old urns."

Scully talked about Jobs' manufacturing.

: "He liked the rounded side, and if you look at the original Macintosh, you'll see that the sides of the computer are rounded."

Jobs' manufacturing overlaps with the appearance of touching the "hoof" of Shigaraki ware while looking at it.

Scully talked about how Jobs was doing the product selection.

: "I've seen Steve look at things he picks up, like mice, from different angles to see how they look, and he wasn't interested in market research and didn't trust them. I was pretty confident in what kind of material I was going to make and what shape I was going to make, believing in my senses. He focused on which products would make what impression they would make on their users."

"Roundness" at the sales site

From the mouse to the monitor, the iMac had a friendly, rounded design everywhere.

Jobs found in the traditional pottery of Japan the familiarity of rounded design and comfort when picked up, and blended it with technology. This attention to touch and roundness was not limited to products.

In 2001, Jobs opened the Apple Store as a place to learn what computers can do. The interior of the shop incorporated roundness throughout.

Together with Jobs, the basic design of the Apple store was created by art director Tamotsu Yagi, who lives in Los Angeles.

In order to make visitors feel familiar, while thinking about the design, we came up with a unique roundness called "Kidney Shape" that was inspired by the shape of a kidney.

Mr. Yagi:
"Kids' desks and curvilinear kidney shapes were new visuals at the time, so there is no doubt that he really preferred curved ones rather than sharp ones with clean corners like those found in Apple stores today."

Once the rough design was decided, Jobs had him make a full-scale model of all the furniture and fixtures.

Then, I touched everything with my own hands and decided on the design.

Mr. Yagi: "When I made a full-scale model, he would go around the counter many times and touch the corner of the table with his palm all the time.
Making it as simple as possible and visually memorable was something that continued until the end of the project."

Deep understanding of Japan culture

Even after Jobs was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, he continued to make new products, including the iPhone, while battling the disease.

In July 1, a little more than a year before his death, Jobs and his family traveled to Shigaraki in Shiga Prefecture, a pottery town about an hour's drive from Kyoto, on his last trip to Japan.

We stopped at two places in Kyoto City and Shigaraki, but it was not to Jobs' liking. The last person I visited on this day was Takahashi Rakusai, a popular Shigaraki ware writer and fifth-generation artist. He is a master who has inherited the traditional Shigaraki ware techniques of the Takahashi family that have continued since the Edo period.

Jobs asked Rakusai for a high-value "ash cast." "Ash casting" is a technique in which the ash of burned wood is applied to the surface of the vessel and melts, creating a different expression one by one.

Jobs bought seven or eight items, including a large bowl with an ash cover. The large bowl was the best work Rakusai had ever made. Mr. Rakusai was very happy that Jobs sympathized with the work into which he poured his skills and experience.

. Takahashi Rakusai: "This large bowl that Mr. Jobs chose was the best I had ever baked, and it was a good one with a lot of burnt ash. I think he's a real pottery lover."

Jobs' understanding of Japan's traditional pottery went so far as to "ashes." A new episode shows his deep understanding of Japan culture.

When Yerin was showing her around a pottery gallery in Tokyo, she asked Jobs, "Have you read Junichiro Tanizaki's Praise of the Shadows?"

"Praise of the Shadows" is known as a famous book that deciphers the aesthetic sense of Japan people by finding beauty in the shadows. Yerin thought it was essential for a deeper understanding of Japan culture.

Jobs' answer was, "Off course (of course)."

And Jobs talked about the beauty of the lacquerware bowl mentioned in the "Praise of the Shadows." In the "Praise of the Shadows," it is stated that it is "a kind of mystery" that the juice moves at the bottom of the bowl and steam rises until you take the lid of the bowl and bring it to your mouth, and you can vaguely taste it.

When Yerin learned of Jobs' deep understanding of Japan culture, she was amazed, "Wow!"

Jobs was greatly inspired by Japan's "new prints" and traditional ceramics, and also eagerly sought to learn the simplicity of Sony products. The aesthetic sense that Jobs discovered from Japan culture penetrated deeply into the products and became the DNA of Apple's manufacturing.

What exactly was it that Jobs found out of Japan?

Scully replied that it was about incorporating "persistence" into the product.

: "Steve loved Japan art like pottery, as well as great products like Sony's Walkman. At the root of all this was permanence. He was fascinated by the idea of one craftsman spending a lifetime creating things. Whether it was printmaking or pottery, he respected him very much. What he wanted to do as a business leader was to incorporate that persistence into his products. I think there was a great deal of consistency in his life, especially in what he learned and observed in Japan. I loved Japanese food, Japan art, and craftsmanship. Each of them became an important factor in shaping the life he chose."

Steve Jobs and Japan

The Japanese version, which was
broadcast on NHK WORLD in March, will be broadcast on BS3 on Saturday, June 1 at 6 p.m. ~

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