James Jennings Design

This photo series documents the production process for an older project of mine, the “Surfboard” MCM-styled coffee table. Lots of attention to the labor-intensive stage of joinery cutting, and unfortunately no photos of the comparatively brief process of routing out contours. Check out the individual photo captions for descriptions of the process. Photos of the complete table to follow.

"Integrated Hi-Fi - Spring 2013"

A set of powered loudspeakers, with hand-formed aluminum façades and solid African Mahogany cabinets.

My final project for SOS 3D, in my final year at TESC. They’re incomplete as of yet since I haven’t installed the amplifier board, drivers, and connection hardware, so for the moment they’re just going to sit with the turntable and look pretty.

"Integrated Hi-Fi", Spring 2013: Process

These photos document the craft process for my most recently completed project; a set of high fidelity single-driver desktop loudspeakers with integrated amplifier. The process was time-consuming, complex, and difficult, but not without reward: in pursuit of this project’s completion I learned some seriously cool (no pun intended) metalworking techniques that I used to form and fabricate the aluminum façade.

Check the photo captions for more info!

A few progress shots from the modelmaking process of the lounge chair project I’m working on! It’s expanding polyurethane foam (brand name is Great Stuff). I grabbed a few cans at the hardware store to test out, since I’m planning on sculpting the full-size positive from two-part expanding foam.

Here’s a bit of my design development process for the lounge chair I’m working on at the moment, from the initial concept, through a bit of a reconceptualization and then two phases of scanning, printing, and detailed adjustment and ergonomic planning. The red lines in the third drawing were again scanned and cleaned up into the finalized plan drawings. The last image is my attempt at a quick turnaround sketch of the chair— not fantastic, but certainly valuable.

Next step: a properly accurate scale model!

Progress shots from a lounge chair ergonomics prototype I made last week. Labor intensive to be sure, but the ability to actually sit back into a contour I’ve designed is hugely informative for detailed design work. This isn’t a model or a prototype of the finished chair, mind you, this is simply a 3d extrusion of the final design’s side elevation seat contour.

More photos of the final chair’s design process to come!

Design Influences: Naoto Fukasawa

Naoto Fukasawa is a Japanese industrial designer born in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan in 1956. He attended Tama Art University and graduated in 1980, was hired by the American design firm IDEO in 1989, and returned to Japan in 1996 as the head of IDEO’s Tokyo office. In 2003 he founded Naoto Fukasawa Design, and currently serves as one of the co-directors of Japan’s first design museum; 21 21 DESIGN SIGHT.

 Fukasawa’s designs are focused on the interactions between user, object, and environment, and frequently explore the cognitive psychology of unconscious human interaction with the built environment (‘thoughtless design’ as he calls it), as well as a concept of designed objects that are so exact in their approximation of what we think they ought to be that they become, in his words, ‘super normal’.

“I believed I wasn’t the only one who was looking for a more normal-looking boom box. I designed this because I believed that no matter what age or gender a person was, and no matter their taste in music, what everyone wanted was one item that they wouldn’t get tired of.” (Naoto Fukasawa, p. 99)

Fukasawa’s working principles exhibit a strong understanding and sympathy for the human experience of the material world, and seek to take advantage of unconscious knowledge to enrich the user’s experience of an object. More so than Dieter Rams, whose philosophies seek to establish a basis for creating functional and honest objects, Naoto Fukasawa’s design philosophies describe elements of human psychology and the natural environment that, when integrated into product design result in a more inherently pleasurable experience while remaining formally minimal and aesthetically restrained.

Without Thought

The human mind has an enormous propensity for unconscious understanding, and a designed object can more effectively meet a user’s needs by appealing to the human brain’s ability to digest information subconsciously.


Another aspect of human psychology that can be appealed to for the benefit of the user; in referencing common interaction experiences between human and environment, objects can be made easier to use or even made more pleasant and stimulating by making appropriate and deliberate reference to these common memories.

Natural R

2.5 mm, the radius Fukasawa has identified as the most natural-feeling and haptically pleasurable edge radius for a rectilinear object, derived from the average edge radius that wooden objects develop over hundreds of years of use and touch.

Super Normal

What is the essence of what we want an object to be, or what the object wants to be? Super normal means to distill the ideal form of a ‘normal’ object and express it in the most effective way.

“While many today aspire to stimulating design, too much stimulus is not a good thing in anyone’s life; stimulus inevitably interrupts the unconscious flow of activity by provoking conscious attention. Rather, in my view, an unconscious, harmonious accord of people and thing is best conveyed ‘without thought’.” (Naoto Fukasawa, p. 7)

Fukasawa’s unique humanistic approach to design and his talent for understanding human behavior and psychology never cease to fascinate and inspire me. Many of his most famous designs are manufactured and sold by the company ±0 (plusminuszero), whose name points to the exactitude of design in their products. These products are made to be exactly what we think they ought to be but in a very stimulating way; they becomes obvious in the most unexpected and perfect ways.