Chime, the Essence of an Iconic Design Company

A small, but memorable gift that would be given to business partners, potential clients, and friends. Chime is the essence of GK Design International, a leader in powersports design and a branch of an iconic Japanese design consultancy. It harnesses through both form and function GKDl’s design philosophies.

Kenji Ekuan, the founder of GK Design Group, wrote a book titled Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox. The book reads as a stream of consciousness by Ekuan, sharing his thoughts on design and how it relates to Japanese culture. I used this book as a framework for this project; one quote that really stuck with me was,” The ultimate design is little different from the natural world.”

Inspired by the furin chimes I experienced while exploring the warm streets of Kyoto, alongside the beautiful form of bamboo, and the dynamic powersports design of GKDI, Chime tells the story of Kenji Ekuan’s theory that the greatest designs are inspired by nature. A beautiful story to tell.

As a mass-produced gift, there were some challenges. This product was to be manufactured inexpensively while communicating premium values. Research on the semantics of GKDI began the project. After research, many ideation sketches and discussions were done. The best ideas were ones that ticked all three values that were to be upheld: Dynamic, Functional, & Inspired by Nature. From there form development began; paper models were made to develop the form in space. Studying the physics of sound and chimes in particular brought upon the use of anodized aluminum. Many iterations of paper models with the smallest of corrections between them were created. A lifelong friend was made through manufacturing, a factory consultant in China named Suvan whose expertise made Chime have such great attention to detail.

Chime received praise from presidents of the various branches of GK Design Group, and from people I’ve talked to professionally and personally. It really is a great combination of form and function; the ring the chime sings when activated is as beautiful as the product itself.

The two most important things I’ve learned from this project is that a strong foundation of research and knowledge on a subject will make idea generation exponentially more efficient, and always be open to working with manufacturers to make your product mass produceable. Many small tweaks were made to make the final design factory-ready.

I want to thank Norman Kerechuk and Taro Kaneko for the opportunity to contribute to a company whose designs I have always appreciated, and the rest of the GKDI crew for being welcoming in my first experience as a professional designer.

Casmir Valeri