Yoji Kanie - Manufacturing company engineer

Yoji Kanie

Manufacturing company engineer

I first met IKOU founder Yuri Matsumoto about a year ago through an introduction from my former boss, and I clearly remember it even now. She was very cheerful and energetic, and I was deeply moved that even though she was struggling as the mother of a child with disabilities, she was motivated to do something good for society.

When I heard that her goal was to create inclusive products that remove the boundaries between children with and without disabilities, my stance changed from “we would accept the job” to “please let us help.” My own feelings shifted greatly and I found myself thinking, “I want to be a part of IKOU.”

For many years, I have been involved in the manufacturing industry, mainly in the production of resin parts. Yuri first came to me and sought advice on addressing the growing costs for metal molds in the design and production of the IKOU Portable Chair. We started by identifying the root causes, and I offered her advice as we explored how we could lower cost without compromising quality.

Perhaps the hardest thing was drawing out from Yuri what it was that she sought and sharing that vision with people working on-site. When it comes to phrases like “luxurious,” or “gentle” – words that express appearance or sensibility – everyone has a different idea of what that is. So, to ensure that everyone involved in production was on the same page, we used as many tangible objects as we could to clarify what Yuri wanted to express.

From the moment that I first heard about IKOU, I felt that it was accomplishing not change, but evolution. Regarding the IKOU Portable Chair that I worked on, I hope that, as we make repeated minor changes, it will evolve into a product that can be used by even more people.

I look forward to seeing IKOU being a brand that distincts itself from universal design, and becoming a breakthrough in inclusive design.

Story of IKOU Portable Chair (Product Development)