Pablo Rubio Ordás
Owner, Chief Design Officer at Erretres
Pablo is responsible for all creative projects at Erretres, a company he founded in 2003. He has directed numerous projects for clients such as El País, Movistar, Banco Pichincha, Virgin Money, Viesgo, and NTT Data, amongst others. His work has received multiple international design awards and he is a recognized figure in the design industry. From 2007 to 2017 he was creative director of the award-winning Matador magazine.
Business Advisor at Erretres
Consultant, author, speaker, creator, entrepreneur and event organizer. Masaaki is the business advisor of Erretres leading the project “Japanese Technology Meets Spanish Design”. Having backgrounds in finance and technology, Masaaki believes in the power of design and helps technology companies to extract their full potential. He is author of three books on creativity and lecturer with over 4000 students in 120 countries on Udemy.
Spain, on the other hand, is extremely strong at intangible value creation, such as art, tourism, fashion, education, gastronomy, sports, and of course, design. For example, Reina Sofia Museum, Prado Museum, and Guggenheim Museum are globally well-known museums. ZARA, CAMPER, LOEWE, and MANGO are the Spanish fashion brands that everybody knows. IE Business School, IESE, and ESADE are the top 3 Spanish business schools that are globally recognized. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are the most famous soccer teams in the world. ElBulli, Etxebarri, and DiverXO are the restaurants that are nearly impossible to make a reservation.
Whether we like it or not, the presence of Japanese companies has been decreasing relatively in the global market over the last decades due to the appearing of new companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Even in the manufacturing industry, international brands like Apple, TESLA, GoPro, and Drone, are taking the place of Japanese companies. The Japanese GDP dropped so significantly between 2012 and 2015 that the scale of Japanese economy shrunk to the level of early 2000’s. Among developed countries, Japan is the only country that experienced this level of economic setback. To compensate the lack of “internal innovation,” Japanese companies have acquired foreign startups and companies. In 2015 and 2016, Japanese companies spent over $200 billion to purchase 1195 foreign companies.
Do Japanese companies truly need to acquire foreign companies to accelerate internal innovation, or strengthen their competitive advantages in the global market? As it is mentioned above, in many cases, Japanese companies already own incredibly high-levels of technology. However, also in many cases, they are not well communicated or applied in the context of the global economy today. Japanese companies are not just good at marketing or branding. What they are truly suffering is converting the technological value into intangible value. For example, the performance between Ferrari 458 Italia and Nissan GT-R is more or less same. Actually, there are some performance measures such as economic efficiency and acceleration, which the GT-R is better than Ferrari 458 Italia. The price of Ferrari 458 Italia is twice as expensive as the GT-R; not because Japanese technology is worse than Italian technology but because Japanese companies do not convert its technological value into economic value maximally by adding intangible value.
Thus, I came up with the idea that the combination of Japanese Technology and Spanish Design would compensate and reinforce each other and generate unique synergy effects in the global market. Wait, why Spanish design?
When you take a look at the histories of Japan and Spain, you will soon find that what both countries are good at is not inventing something from scratch but importing ideas from outside, and then, customising and improving imported ideas. This could be because of its geographic characteristics. The Iberia peninsula is separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees and Japan is also an island that is separated from the content. This geographic factor has helped Spain and Japan develop unique cultures.
You can find similar phenomena in design. For most Japanese people, European designs are same, but there are major differences in design between Germanic language speaking countries and Romance language speaking countries. In Germanic language speaking countries like Germany and Nordic countries, designs are function driven as many of famous modernism advocators are from these countries. Designs in Germanic language speaking countries, in general, tend to be minimalistic and simple because it puts emphasis on functionality. On the contrary, in Romance language speaking countries like Italy and France, designs tend to be driven by emotional and artistic factors. Needless to say, it does not mean that designs in the Germanic language speaking countries are not artistic or designs in the Romance-speaking countries ignore functionality. However, there is a difference in priority between these 2 areas. Interestingly, Spanish designs are well balanced between functionality and emotion. A lot of Spanish designs have been influenced by other European cultures and have the source of inspiration in other countries. This influence would help Spanish designs have a good balance between functionality and emotional factors. Or in other words, this unique culture of importing ideas and customizing and improving them allows Spanish designs to take advantage of both functionality and emotion and keep a good balance.
There could be thousands of different designs and styles in the world and it is impossible to define which the best is. It depends on your priority and value. Many Japanese companies are product-driven that the level of complexity and accuracy that their technologies have is art. However, there is no strong emotional connection with users. So, what Japanese technologies need are designs that are well-balanced between functionality and emotion that maximize the value of technology and convert a technological value into economic value. Having said that and considering all the factors above, Spanish design can be the best option to extract the core value of Japanese technology.
Author: Masaaki Hasegawa is Business Advisor of Erretres.
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