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A Japanese Design Great that Fell in Love with Time


Riki Watanabe established Japan’s first design office, the RIKI WATANABE Design Office, in 1949. He left a legacy of many iconic Japanese designs from furniture to interiors. Yet, his work on clocks and watches became his lifework.

Riki Watanabe, Designer

Watanabe graduated from the Woodwork Department of Tokyo High Polytechnic School. After working as an assistant professor at Tokyo High Polytechnic School and as an assistant in the Forestry Department at Tokyo Imperial University - then the Tokyo University - he established Japan’s first design office, the RIKI WATANABE Design Office. His main focus was the establishment of the Interior Architect Department at Tokyo Molding University, Craft Center Japan, Japan Industrial Designer Association and Japan Designers Committee. He designed the interior decor at the Keio Plaza Hotel, Prince Hotel, and others. and iconic furniture such as the Himo-Isu (Rope chair) and Tri-stool. He also designed timepieces from wall clocks to watches. His timepiece work became his lifework.

Watanabe received the Milano Triennale Gold Medal in 1957, the Mainichi Industrial Design Prize, Shiju hosho (the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon), and many other awards and recognition. In 2006, the “Riki Watanabe – Innovation of Living Design” exhibition was held at the National Museum of Modern Art in Japan.