How DE-SIGN INC. augments their design process with SYMMETRY
Go Imamura

Interior Design・Architecture

DE-SIGN INC. works on design, planning, and construction management for corporate workplaces. Their goal is to assist corporate companies achieve goals and tackle issues in corporate management by creating a meaningful sense of place in the workplace. Our interviewee, Go Imamura, joined the company in 2013 and now serves as managing director.

Please briefly introduce DE-SIGN INC.

Our company provides many services ranging from strategic planning and project management to design and construction for corporate offices. The pillars of our service offering are centered on project management and design. Project management has been a core service since the founding of DE-SIGN INC., providing insights based on the analyses of the client’s goals and heretofore encountered roadblocks which includes proposing and leading the integration of custom solutions based on the needs of each client. Creative services, including interior design, graphic design and product development, are offered to assist clients in most effectively realizing their strategic goals.

The majority of the companies we work with are based in Japan. When forming a team to handle a project we often assign a designer internally to lead the project along with external partners as needed. The requests we receive that require creative services usually come from foreign-affiliated companies, in which case we work with a foreign-based project management company. Naturally, there are many cases whereby our internal project management and design team work together on a project.

When planning for and designing workspaces, the construction phase doesn’t signal the end of the project but the beginning. As the client moves in and starts to operate within the space we can truly begin to analyze the workspace design and make adjustments as and when necessary. Most often, issues regarding the design of the space cannot be understood during the construction phase and are only revealed as the client begins to work within the space. To resolve any issues that may arise it is essential that we continue to follow-up with clients and facility management.

Would you share a bit of your personal history?

I studied architecture at Kyushu Institute of Design (now known as Kyushu University). After graduating, I lead the design of many large-scale buildings as a general contractor in the design department of a construction company for several years. From then, I went to London Art University to study interior design, after which I returned to Japan to work for various interior design companies working on commercial spaces and offices for Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo & Co. and other major foreign-based corporations.

At that time, Japanese companies had little knowledge and interest in investing in the workplace; therefore my clients were mostly foreign companies. Japanese companies have recently begun to place more emphasis on the workplace in order to improve recruitment and employee productivity, and as such investment in workplace solutions has increased. As this trend emerges, I feel the need for people with my experience increases in parallel.

How do you present your work to clients for review?

We often use 3D modeling tools to visualize and present our work to clients. Our client presentations are dependent upon the project. We prepare drawings and models in 2D and 3D and make presentations using tools like PowerPoint, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.

We didn’t create 3D models for our designs at my previous company. Although our aim was to present designs from a perspective view in a 3D space, we would give out paper-based presentation materials and project our presentation onto a screen. Because our designs were reviewed as 2D drawings, our clients had difficulty trying to imagine the spaces as a 1:1 built space which caused problems. Even when presenting a 3D model (on a 2D screen), it remains difficult to simulate the the experience of being in the space at 1:1. We are leaving too much to the imagination of our clients that often have no background in architecture and design.

How did SYMMETRY influence your workflow?

As I alluded to before, no matter how much effort I put into creating 3D models, the final output was still in 2D (on a screen). With SYMMETRY, I could create an entirely different experience for my designs with ease. From the moment my 3D model is imported into SYMMETRY and viewed at 1:1 in VR I can immediately understand and appreciate what it feels like to be within the space I’m designing. Of course it’s not realistic to build a physical 1:1 model for every project prior to construction, but with SYMMETRY I can review every space at 1:1 with my clients at any phase of the project with ease.

How do you see yourself integrating SYMMETRY into your workflow in the future?

In addition to using SYMMETRY as a presentation tool for clients, I think it will be very effective in educating young designers. For designers with little experience, it is extremely important to experience trial and error before being given the responsibility to handle a project on their own. Misjudgments that entry level designers often make, for example, are often due to miscalculations on paper of the design of the space and the layout of the furniture, which often go unnoticed until the work is built. Naturally, a senior designer will spot these issues and offer advice, but comparing the intended design to the built space and understanding scale can only be learned by the individual.

That being said, the timeline for most projects in the architecture industry are very long, which means that most entry level designers are only able to experience a project from design to build once or twice per year. Compared to other industries, it takes significantly longer to acquire the experience needed to become a professional designer capable of managing projects.

We believe that in addition to leading a successful project, fostering young talent is essential. With SYMMETRY our young designers can view their work at 1:1 immediately, enriching their understanding of space and scale at a much faster pace.