S/PARK, a Place of Self-discovery — Kundo Koyama

POSTED on 2018.11.30

The construction of SHISEIDO GLOBAL INNOVATION CENTER (nickname: S/PARK; hereinafter S/PARK) is underway in collaboration with many employees and external partners.
In this issue, we interviewed one of these partners, Kundo Koyama, President and Representative Director of ORANGE AND PARTNERS Co, Ltd., a person behind numerous brand-building and brand identity creation efforts, such as Kumamon, who also works as a broadcast writer and vice-president of a university, to learn how he views beauty, and the important aspects of S/PARK that he wishes to explore.

I View Shiseido as a Patron of Culture

— First, describe how you became involved with S/PARK?

Koyama: Shiseido approached me and we came up with some concepts together regarding to how to establish the first and second floors of S/PARK. My involvement with S/PARK started at an early stage, when they were considering what sort of place S/PARK should be from the perspectives of consumers and residents of Yokohama.

— We heard that you already had history with Shiseido before this project. How do you view the Company, and how do you want S/PARK to evolve?

Koyama: This is entirely my personal opinion, but I view Shiseido as a patron of culture. The relationship between Shiseido and I first started when we were working on a TV program. I used to submit many proposals, and they accepted the cultural ones more readily.
Another example is L'Osier, a French restaurant. It was unveiled in Ginza, Tokyo, in 1973, because Shiseido wished to establish a culture of French cuisine in Japan. I always have had the impression that Shiseido highly values culture.

I feel that the launch of S/PARK is similar to a declaration from the Company, announcing of its intention to remain a patron of culture, while also transforming into an innovator that continues to foster innovation. When it comes to culture, Shiseido has been playing a supportive role until now, but I feel that it will play a more active role in the future.

— How did you expand the idea for the first and second floors of S/PARK?

Koyama: Initially, I visualized a forest where new lives are nurtured (banbutsu torite shozu)*, something suitable for Shiseido, which values things that can be felt with the senses, including light, smell and sound. The building should appear stylish and innovative on the inside, but I also wanted to create a place that can be appreciated with the five senses. I developed the plan based on this idea.

*The origin of the name Shiseido comes from a passage of the Chinese classic The Book of Changes. "Itareru kana kongen, banbutsu torite shozu" means "Praise the virtues of the Earth, which nurtures new life and brings forth significant values."

My inspiration at the earliest stage was this image. It was taken at the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). It is a man-made place, not located in nature, but I thought the word love was suitable for it. I felt that this place was full of love, maybe because I accidentally witnessed a man proposing to a woman while I was there.
I also took their photograph while he was proposing and sent it to them. I was hoping that we might be able to form deep friendship afterward, but I did not receive any reply. I was disappointed. (´Д`;)

Beauty as a Seed—Innovation Germinated by People

— How do you view innovation?

Koyama: I believe that innovation is all about inventing what society needs, or resolving issues found in society using new technologies and inventions.
After all, the key to innovation is people. This is why we must establish places that allow people to gather, encouraging them to discover something new. Employees who were confined in laboratories may discover a flash of new inspiration once they enter the first and second floors of S/PARK, and witness the current trends themselves. We set a task for ourselves at an early stage to learn how to initiate such chemical reactions as well as how to establish a place that encourages chemical reactions.

— What do you think of the Minato Mirai district, where S/PARK is being constructed?

Koyama: This is an area where companies congregate that show no hesitation in taking on new challenges. I feel that it is a unique atmosphere, which encourages everyone to embrace new questions. Establishing S/PARK in this area has significant meaning. I want to actively involve the surrounding companies and people who work in this area. I am certain that S/PARK will be an invaluable asset to the Minato Mirai district in the future.

— Is there any important aspect that you wish to explore in S/PARK, located in the Minato Mirai district where active companies congregate?

Koyama: I believe that beauty is the seed for everything. Other places encourage innovation or interaction between people, such as co-working spaces, which are increasing. Nevertheless, the core of Shiseido remains beauty. It questions is the definition of beauty, and supports wishes to become more beautiful. It also questions not only the beauty of women, but also artistic beauty. This GLOBAL INNOVATION CENTER adopts a somewhat philosophical approach as it attempts to discover things that people may find beautiful. There are only a few places in the world where people can gather, which were developed with the theme of beauty.

A Place where Standards of Beauty Can be Discovered in Order to Live and Be True to Yourself

— How do you view beauty?

Koyama: I feel that beauty is like a wire in one's mind. Beauty has ability to make us stand tall. On the other hand, comfort makes us somewhat lazy, as we tend to idle away our time when we are in our comfort zones.
To become more beautiful, we occasionally have to encourage ourselves and make efforts. In that sense, beauty is like a wire in one's mind. It acts as a backbone or roadmap to allow you to stand tall and to live and be true to yourself.

— That is an interesting idea. You believe that beauty is merely a roadmap and we all need to take action to attain it based on our own initiative.

Koyama: If you do not take action, you will never be able to discover anything. I feel that the more you polish, the brighter you become. Beauty is similar to an objective that you need to work toward, or a person who accompanies you while you run a marathon.
I also think that the meaning of beauty differs from one person to the other. There is no single standard of beauty that fits everyone. Instead, we should all have a unique standard within ourselves.

— S/PARK is not a place where Shiseido imposes its opinions on visitors. It is a place where visitors can discover their own unique beauty.

Koyama: I think all visitors can gain something after visiting this place. Nevertheless, I think it will be better if they discover it by themselves instead of having it fed to them. Discovery of thoughts that come from within may encourage them to make more efforts, or change how they look. I am certain that that it make them more beautiful.

— Will it also apply to Shiseido employees?

Koyama: I think so. Things such as prompting someone to change, helping someone find happiness and becoming a person who navigates the world of beauty by acting like a compass will lead to self-improvement and increased confidence. I believe that the feeling of happiness will make the person more beautiful.

— S/PARK is a place where both customers and Shiseido employees can discover beauty based on their own initiative.

Koyama: I think so. Above all, this place encourages everyone to be true to themselves and take action. This is a place of self-discovery.