21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Special Exhibition “Insect: Models for Design”

September 28th, 2019 (Saturday)

Lecturer Kazuya Saito will be present at the talk event “Flying Mechanism” at the exhibition “Insect: Models for Design” held at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT from July 19th to November 4th, 2019.

An insect is said to be the first creature to fly in the sky. The precise mechanism of the wings provides hints for flying that once were the longing for humans.

In this exhibition, the exhibits “READY TO FLY”, focuses on the structure of beetle wings.

Lecturer Kazuya Saito works on research to apply deformation mechanisms such as insect folding its wings to artificial structures. Professor Shunji Yamanaka is a design engineer and professor at the University of Tokyo, Institute of Industrial Science.
The third member, Mr Fumihiko Hirai (Tokyo Bug Boys), is a photographer who focuses on capturing the moment when an insect flies and sending video through SNS. He will talk about “flying insects”.
Mr Mai Tsunoo, who was in charge of the text for this exhibition, will be the moderator.

Click here for details of exhibitions and events

Reservation required
Reservation starts on August 30th (Friday), 2019 from 12:00 on the 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT web page.


Shunji Yamanaka

After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Engineering, in 1982, he worked for Nissan Motor and became independent as a freelance designer in 1987. He then established Reading Edge Design in 1994. He became the Professor at Keio University in 2008-12, later joined the University of Tokyo in 2013. As a designer, he designs a wide range of industrial products ranging from watches to railway cars, and as an engineer, he is involved in robotics and communication technology. He received the 2004 Mainichi Design Award, Germany IF Good Design Award, and many good design awards. In 2010, “Tagtype Garage Kit” was selected for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In recent years, he has been researching new relationships with people such as “beautiful artificial legs” and “living creature robots”.

Kazuya Saito

He graduated from Kyoto University in 2005, completed a master's course in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the same university in 2007, and obtained a doctorate in engineering from the Department of Mechanical Physics Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 2009. After working as a postdoctoral fellow at Tokyo Institute of Technology, he joined JAXA Institute for Space Science, Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science (2012-2017), Lecturer at the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo (2017-2018), Kyushu University from 2019 where he was appointed as a lecturer at the Faculty of Design. Focusing on the elucidation of the high-speed deformation mechanism in the body of insects as represented by the folding of moths, he works on the development of advanced structural materials based on origami mathematics and biomimetic.

Fumihiko Hirai

He was born in Tokyo in 1971. In his childhood, he is exposed to the charm of a wide variety of creatures in the vibrant nature of southern Aichi Prefecture. After moving to Tokyo as an acupuncturist, he worked as a school corporation officer and company officer. He has a camera to recorder activities of the people he meets, such as dancers, writers and collage artists. Also, he started taking photos and videos on the creatures he liked in his childhood. His work was widespread to Japanese and foreign media, and this activity becomes the main subject. In the future, he will develop VR and AR content based on photos and videos and work on the theme of how to convey the importance of biodiversity conservation. He made media appearance and publication in National Geographic, TV Asahi, Great Insect Exhibition (Tokyo Sky Tree), Insane Insect Exhibition (Sayama City Museum), etc.

Mai Tsunoo

Based on the concept of “reporting design”, he writes, organizes exhibitions, and plans PR. He graduated from Keio University, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies in 2010. After working as a manufacturer, he worked as an assistant to Toshiharu Yamanaka from 2012 to 2016. After that, he stayed in Scotland for one year and returned to Japan in October 2017. In addition to writing in “Nikkei Design”, he wrote for the University of Tokyo 70th Anniversary Exhibition “Mr. Future Engineering × Design” (National Museum of Art, 2018), “Self-Grown Design” Exhibition (Design Gallery 1953, 2019). The edition includes “Small tales of design” (written by Toshiharu Yamanaka, Nikkei BP, 2017).


September 28th, 2019 (Saturday) 14:00 - 16:00


21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Gallery 1 & 2

9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo Midtown Garden, Tokyo Midtown


80 people


Free (however, an admission ticket for the day is required)


This is an archive of images, videos and documents recording our activities up until now.
You can download a file by selecting the thumbnail.

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