By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs + Services
Get to know the people behind the stylish products that will appear at the 2014 International Home + Housewares Show in Discover Design. We’ll be posting conversations with exhibitors to give you a glimpse of the inspirations, influences and ideas that go into creating the exciting products that you’ll see in March at McCormick Place.
Today we are speaking with Martin Jonsson of R.F. Yamakawa’s International Sales and Development Department.
Mr. Jonsson, where do you find inspiration when designing new products?
R.F. Yamakawa works with a variety of designers, experienced as well as upcoming talent, to bring together
a collection of good design. Our focus has always been how to add value and good design to everyday products found in the home. Something we use each day can be so much more than just a tool– it can be beautiful and a cleaver at the same time. We are inspired by creative designers who can help us enjoy a well-designed and easier life. A beautiful product that makes one’s day easier always gets us excited.
Are there any specific designers, places or eras that influence you?
R.F. Yamakawa was established more than 50 years ago in Japan. Although we work with many international designers, it is still a very Japanese company. We always start with a Japanese mindset. Products need to be attractive, but they should also be space-saving and practical, and perhaps offer an unexpected benefit not immediately revealed—these are characteristics valued in Japan. This combination drives our search for new products and improvements.
How do you choose which idea to take to the next step — to product development?
“Unique” might be a word that is overused these days, but that is what we
strive for—an idea that is unique, yet practical and can fit a large audience. We look for ideas that can be applied to many products that bring good design to as many people as possible. Designing lifestyle items is all about making people’s life easier and better. An idea that can do this captures our attention.
How do you identify the key user audience for your products?
Listening to our customers and the end consumer are of course most important. But we also want to create items that can fit as many environments as possible. This multi-faceted view drives our work. Good design is for everyone.
Is there an approach or look that joins the functionality, form or emotional appeal of your product line?
It is all about functionality. An item without good functionality is not our product. It needs to have that special connection between visual appeal and function. Preferably the item also brings something unusual and extra in how it is used.
Where are your products manufactured?
Right now we are producing in China, but also looking into new areas.
How do you see design’s importance in our industry as it moves forward?
Good design will always have an advantage. Good design will always be our priority.
How does Discover Design help you build your brand?
This will be our first time exhibiting at the International Home + Housewares Show. We have been
exhibiting in Europe for several years. We want to expand our presence on the American market, and Discover Design is one important way for us to show our products and concepts for a new audience. We want to highlight our design focus. We are very excited to be coming to Chicago!
Can you give us a preview of what you will be showing in your booth in Discover Design?
Our core products include shoehorns, umbrella stands, stationery, hangers, file organizers and other home
accessories–things that can make your life more organized and functional.
Thank you, Mr. Jonsson, for introducing R.F. Yamakawa’s perspective on design. We look forward to hosting you in Chicago in March and wish you great success on your first appearance at our Show.
Visit R. F. Yamakawa in Discover Design S427. Learn more about their range of products at
Discover Design is the premier design destination at the International Home + Housewares Show. Located in the South Building, the invitation-only category features more than 100 exhibitors from around the world. Companies driven by innovation and design present distinctive products and collections in Tabletop, Gift, Textiles and Home Décor categories. The Discover Design Gallery, accessible to buyers and media, features select products that are entries in the Global Innovation Award (gia) for Design. Learn more about Discover Design exhibitors and their products by checking Housewares Connect 365 at
photocaptions: Prillo bag hanger, Indice 5pc book end set, Spillo shoehorn.