-- Every year on 8 April, when Shiseido's establishment is celebrated, I understand that all employees are presented with gifts of confectionery made exclusively for the occasion by Shiseido Parlour.
Kondo: The confectionery is placed in packaging that comes in different designs every year, and a message from the president is attached. This tradition began more than 30 years ago, and to date, a number of designers have helped to produce these packaging designs as they reflect on the founding of the company.
-- Ms. Kondo, you were in charge of the packaging design for this commemorative confectionery in 2009, 2010, and 2016, while Mr. Muraoka took charge of the design for the first time this year. Is that right?
Muraoka: Yes. The designer in charge of the packaging design is determined through an in-house competition, and my design was selected for the first time this year, after my second attempt.
Kondo: Since 2013, several designers ranging from young to more experienced mid-level ones are nominated every year to submit designs, and one of the proposals is then selected.
-- Since this packaging is intended for confectionery to be distributed in-house, do you enjoy greater freedom in designing them in comparison with the packaging for cosmetic products or confectionery for general public sale?
Kondo: It is true that there is greater freedom in the design. Nevertheless, it may be more accurate to say that there "appears to be" no restrictions. Since Shiseido's historical background and character are of great importance, I think the designers interpret this "Shiseido's character" in their own ways and incorporate their perceptions into their own designs.
Muraoka: There are also times when the designs are based on messages or themes announced by the president. The theme for 2018 was "Kakeru," which means "to soar." I broke down and carefully considered the elements of this word, and applied it to the design. With a theme that was defined relatively clearly, it felt somewhat easier to tackle the design.
-- Looking at the packaging produced till now, I feel a similar tone even though the designs vary from year to year.
Kondo: As we celebrate the anniversary in April, many designs may give a nod to the seasons from spring to early summer. In addition, I believe that the respective designers present their ideas and perceptions of the camellia motifs and arabesque pattern that Shiseido has inherited and passed on throughout its history, as well as the image of Ginza where our office is located.
Muraoka: They also share an air of glamor and splendor, don't they?
Kondo: As well as reflect the individual characters of each designer.
Muraoka: When I look at the packaging, the faces of the designers who produced them appear in my mind's eye. I am, in a way, strangely convinced that the work does indeed reflect the character of its designer, and I can feel the personality of the designer come through.
-- Compared to product packaging, does the designer's individuality come through more easily?
Kondo: Yes, it does. When producing a regular product packaging, it is necessary to consider the consumer's reaction and the marketing perspective. On the other hand, in the case of confectionery produced to commemorate the anniversary, the entire range of processes from the formulation of the idea to the design is mostly left up to one consistent designer. That may be why the sensibility of the individual designer is more easily and directly revealed or expressed through the work.
Muraoka: The feeling I had was that all the designs were beyond my capabilities. I also have a strong memory of receiving the confectionery on the day of my new employee training, during my first year in the company. In April every year, new employees undergo training at Ecole de Hayama, a training institute located at Hayama. At the time of the training, we received the confectionery, contained in its beautiful packaging with Shiseido's logo and the camellia ("Hanatsubaki") motif, and I remember feeling very happy about it. That was in 2010, which happened to be the packaging designed by Ms. Kondo.
Kondo: I, too, was certainly very happy when I first received the confectionery. It was just after I joined Shiseido, which I very much admired. So when I received the confectionery with the "Hanatsubaki" motif on the packaging, the realization that I had truly joined the company welled up once again within me. I am recalling that raw emotion for the first time in a long while (laughs).
Muraoka: The confectionery is placed on each individual employee's desk on the day when we celebrate the company's establishment. During that time, the office seems to become a little brighter, and it cheers us up instantly. I have always approached the design of the packaging with a desire to incorporate these feelings into the design.
-- Other than confectionery, you have also been producing plates in recent years, is that right?
Kondo: We also wanted to distribute commemorative gifts to staff at Shiseido's overseas offices. However, due to issues with the best-before dates, it is difficult to send them confectionery, so we began to produce plates for them instead.
Muraoka: To begin with, we never get the chance to design plates in our everyday work, so it was a very good experience.
Kondo: We have also heard stories about how the families are delighted when the employees bring the confectionery home. As these gifts reach many people, including our employees and their families in Japan and abroad, I want to create something that can make people feel cheerful and positive when they receive it.
-- The theme for 2018 was "Kakeru," meaning "to soar." How did you incorporate that idea into a concrete design?
Muraoka: I gleaned a positive image and momentum from the word "Kakeru," so I came up with the theme "SHISEIDO Sensation" based on that idea, and began coming up with a corresponding design. Initially, I wanted to use the theme "SHISEIDO Typhoon" instead, but the president pointed out that the word "typhoon" has a slightly negative impact. In using the word "Sensation," I had the image of Shiseido riding on a growing momentum to deliver beauty to consumers around the world.
Kondo: Just as the theme suggests, the design does indeed exude a sense of the wind and momentum.
Muraoka: Yes. The image is of camellia flowers dancing in the wind. I gave a presentation of the design directly to the president, but such opportunities very rarely come by, and the experience was both fresh and valuable for me.
-- What points have you paid attention to when producing the design for this year?
Muraoka: In truth, when I first participated in the competition in 2013, I submitted a design generating very serious and rigid atmosphere. My supervisor criticized it as "too self-contained." Indeed, when I looked at works by other designers, they seemed to present a sense of generosity and warmth, and I felt that they were much better than mine. With that experience in mind, I paid attention to creating a design on a "generous" scale this year.
Kondo: I am in charge of the packaging of the confectionery that is usually sold in the Shiseido Parlour, and I have always been told that designing the packaging in a fussy and overly-detailed manner makes the confectionery appear less delicious, so we should go with an ample and generous design.
-- What, specifically, does "generosity" entail?
Kondo: For example, making the design elements somewhat bigger, or using white space (the blank spaces in the layout) effectively. Dense and delicate designs also have their unique merits and are wonderful in their own ways, but we make a deliberate effort to allow for more space when it comes to confectionery packaging.
Muraoka: I have learnt something today (laughs). In Shiseido, I am more frequently engaged in the design of three-dimensional objects such as the packaging for cosmetic products, so it felt like I had to use a completely different part of my brain for this project.
Kondo: Even for me, despite being usually involved in design work for Shiseido Parlour, the design for the commemorative confectionery feels special. I feel that this project provides designers with a "space of realization."