Duncan Shotton Interview
A young British designer based in Tokyo, Japan, Duncan Shotton’s work is a versatile collection of useful and charming items. He specializes in graphic, package, product, and interface design. In 2012, he was shortlisted as a Rising Star by Design Week, so it was a great pleasure to chat with one of the design world’s brightest young talents.
Who are you?
I’m Dunc, nice to meet you.
What do you do?
I design things that make people smile.
Where did you grow up?
In the pretty little town of Bradford-on-Avon, UK.
When did you take your first big risk in life?
Perhaps when I quit my job at Kinneir Dufort in Bristol (UK) and moved to Tokyo. I didn’t have a job lined up and knew that getting a job in Japan was going to be bloody tricky because I didn’t (and still don’t really) understand the language.
I burned through my savings in the first month or so on food, rent, and the electricity to power the little fan I sat less than 2cm away from me most of the day (Japanese summer is hot, and I figured the fan was cheaper than using the aircon).
I’d also invested in some injection-moulding tooling and parts for my Real Boy push-pin project. Not only had I decided to hand paint 2000 tiny Pinocchios myself, I committed financially to the idea that I’d be able to sell 1000 2-packs through my web store.
Why have you found success so far?
Hard work, preparing for luck, luck, plus help and support from lots of other people.
Who is someone you’d love to work with, but can’t?
I’d like to work with Nendo, but they want me to work for free.
What are you working on now?
A soap dispenser. We’re at the stage where the ‘first shot’ plastic parts have just been popped out of the tool. Right now we’re adding a few engraved plastic details and tweaking a few dimensions to get a good fit between parts.
It’s still a while before everything’s finished and it’s ready to share, but I’m hoping it will be launchable at this year’s Tokyo Designers Week, where I’ll be exhibiting again with Designboom Mart.
Where do you spend most of your free time?
Watching films at home, drinking and eating in Izakayas, or shopping in Harujuku.
When you look back at your life so far, describe your biggest success.
My Rainbow Pencils becoming a reality (via Kickstarter). I always had a list of life/career goals, but as soon as one of them gets a tick mark beside it, it seems like sooner or later another couple get added to the list.
Why are you doing this interview?
MIJLO asked me, and MIJLO is cool, so I said yeah right away. I find it difficult to just “be myself” on social media because I always try to keep my posts work-focused. Interviews are a good opportunity to answer questions I wouldn’t think about otherwise.