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March 21, 2023


The competition theme was “embrace,” and winners were chosen from among 1,023 entries within Japan and overseas


KOKUYO Co., Ltd. (head office: Osaka City, president: Hidekuni Kuroda) has announced the selection of one Grand Prix and two Merit Awards for the Kokuyo Design Award 2023, which aims to seek out designers who will take on the next generation and support them by commercializing their products.

The Kokuyo Design Award 2023, which marked 20th Kokuyo Design Award, called for product designs that would make viewers and users feel positive by evoking the idea of accepting and affirming the challenges that society is facing and the differences of each person under the theme of “embrace.”

A total of 1,023 entries were received from 56 countries all around the world (515 from Japan and 508 from overseas) from July 29th until October 11th 2022.

Today’s Final Judging included 10 works that had been selected in last November’s first round of judging and after patent research. It started with presentations and model judging, followed by the judges’ final deliberations where they determined the winning designs.

Details on Winning Entries

◎Grand Prix (1 design)

Design name:Sahara
General name:Painting palette
Design overview:It is a painting palette that looks like a desert. “For easygoing painting, don’t you need a similarly easygoing set of tools?” “Sahara,” which was born from this idea, proposes a form of tool that draws out and embraces our unrestrained creativity. A series palettes without barriers to gently embrace our creativity with the vastness of the Sahara Desert.
Winner/Group names:Hitoshi Ohbi

◎Merit Award (2 designs)


Design name:Fall Leaf Colored Pencils
General name:Colored pencils
Design overview:Colored pencils that resemble untouched fallen leaves, create an atmosphere that is more than the typical tidy desk. It is commonly said that an untidy state is disorganized, but if you don’t feel uncomfortable in a cluttered state, beauty can be found in a new perspective. “Fall Leaf Colored Pencils” is a product that will open doors to new values and create even more passions.
Winner/Group names:Shunsei Yoshida


Design name:EMBRACE NOTE
General name:Notebook
Design overview:Things that develop from reason to sensibility, from known to unknown, from order to chaos are not mutually exclusive. In the “EMBRACE NOTE,” the underlines are thinner and blend with the margins, making the borders softer. Depending on the purpose, it can be used flexibly as a notebook or schedule book, and it also provides a natural and ever so comfortable writing experience.
Winner/Group names:Guo Chenkai

*Note: The design titles, general item names, design overviews, and winner/group names are as written on the entry sheets.


Details on Trophies and Certificates of Commendation


The award winners were presented with a dome-shaped glass trophy and a certificate of commendation. Visuals of diverse nature, such as forests and springs, on an example made using the Kusakizome (plant dyeing) technique, served as inspiration for the trophy and certificate, which were made with the same technique. It expresses the chaotic beauty created by the mixing of various things.



The KOKUYO DESIGN AWARD was started in 2002 with the aim of encouraging designers to create products from the viewpoint of users. The competition has since been held almost every year, and this year marks its 20th anniversary. It is now recognized as historic among domestic design competitions.

The AWARD is growing as an international competition: not many competitions run with the assumption that winning entries will be considered to become products–even internationally–and the judges are top creators working actively both within and outside Japan, so almost half of entries have been from abroad in recent years.

Among the 21 works that have made a commercial debut are “KADOKESHI,” which has been added to MoMA’s permanent collection, “Nameless Paints,” which won several international ad and design awards, and “True Measure,” which won the iF Design Award. We are also supporting young designers’ progress and helping them build foundations by collaborating with winners during the process of turning their entries into products.

Profiles of KOKUYO DESIGN AWARD 2023 Judges


Masashi Kawamura

Chief Creative Officer of Whatever Inc.

“Masashi Kawamura is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Whatever. 

After working as a creative director at creative agencies around the world–including BBH, 180, and Wieden & Kennedy–he established creative lab PARTY. He worked as a creative director there while also serving as the CEO of PARTY NY and Taipei, and was in charge of all global business projects for those companies. Then in 2019, he founded new creative studio Whatever, and took up the position of Chief Creative Officer. He is involved in a wide range of projects, including campaign programs for numerous global brands, product design, development of TV programs, and music video production. He has won many awards around the world, including at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. He was selected by the American magazine Creativity as one of the Creativity 50, a list of the world’s most notable creators and innovators, and was also selected for Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business, and AERA’s 100 People Breaking Out of Japan.”


Tsuyoshi Tane

Founder of Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects / Architect

Tsuyoshi Tane is an architect. Born in Tokyo in 1979, he established Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects, and is now based in Paris, France. Based on the concept of “Archaeology of the Future”–which is about creating architecture from the memory of a place–he has many projects underway all around the world, and especially in Europe and Japan. His works include Estonian National Museum (2016), New National Stadium Kofun Stadium (proposal) (2012), Todoroki House in Valley (2018), Hirosaki Museum of Contemporary Art (2020), among others. The numerous awards he has received include the French Ministry of Culture Architecture Prize (2007), 67th Japanese Ministry New Face Award of Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts, and AFEX Grand Prix 2021. He has also been nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award. His books include Tane Tsuyoshi: Archaeology kara Architecture e (From Archaeology to Architecture) and TSUYOSHI TANE Archaeology of the Future (both published by TOTO).


Nao Tamura


“Nao Tamura is a designer in the most modern terms. Her talents cross-over cultures, languages, disciplines, concepts and styles with consistency of smart thinking always at the heart of her work. She is truly global in her insights and execution. As a product of Tokyo and New York City creative communities, her solutions are equally at ease in the world of 2D and 3D, with an uncanny ability to find that emotional connection with the industry status-quo often insists upon. Her unique solutions are more than simply design and possess a rare balance of innovation and beauty.

Nao Tamura has also received a number of prestigious awards including: IF Design Award, Red Dot Design Award, Industrial Design Excellence Awards (Gold), Milano Salone Satellite Award (1st prize) and so on.”


Teruhiro Yanagihara


“Teruhiro Yanagihara was born in Kagawa Prefecture in 1976. He is a designer, and established his own studio in 2002. With the idea of designing environments for designing, he is engaged in a number of design projects–spatial design, product design, and everything in between–that go beyond the boundaries of countries and genres. He has also been a part of the launching of several new brands as a creative director. His activities are currently based in Osaka, France, Netherlands, and the Denmark.

Some of his works have their place in the permanent collections of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the CNAP (Centre national des arts plastiques), to name a few. He is also the co-author of several books, including Real Anonymous Designs (from Gakugei Shuppansha), Design manners from 11 designers between 2000 and 2009 (Rikuyosha).”


Satoshi Yoshiizumi

Principal of TAKT PROJECT Inc. / Designer

“Satoshi Yoshiizumi conducts experimental independent research projects on “creating different possibilities” through design, and presents and exhibits work as a guest at museums and exhibitions both in Japan and abroad. He rolls out a wide variety of projects with his clients based on the results.

Awards he has won include the Dezeen Awards Emerging Designers of the Year 2019, Design Miami / Basel Swarovski Designers of the Future Award 2017, iF Design Award, Red Dot Design Award, German Design Award, and Kuwasawa Award 2017. His works are housed at M+ museum in Hong Kong.”

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