Talking with Satoi Akimoto about his inspiration is inspirational in itself. Satoi, a lead architect at MSA, has led and contributed to several projects, including… While the work stands for itself and is quite obvious in its creativity as a whole, the entirety is not Satoi’s objective. As he carefully selects words to describe his creative philosophy, it becomes clear that its in the details that he finds his inspiration. Through tenuous study, a thoughtful eye, and a rather quiet approach, he finds beauty of the whole through appreciation of the singular.
As you look at your collection of work at MSA, how do you want people to react?
I want viewers to recognize that it is sophisticated while realizing it is slightly unique from the ordinary. If a viewer were really to pay attention, then he/she would see that there’s thought behind it. I don’t want anything to be showy. I want it to be refined, understated, and effective.
How do you accomplish an “understated” aesthetic?
I might take a common detail, an ordinary thing and change it slightly, change the proportion, for example. Then, it’s slightly unique, but only to the careful eye. I like to turn a drawing I am working on upside down or flip it over. Then, you can see what’s interesting–you have a fresh perspective.
Do you go to museums or galleries for inspiration?
Yes, but I also find inspiration in everyday from people on the street. I saw a man who had cut a Coke bottle in half lengthwise to utilize it as a bike fender–that’s interesting. People are a lot more creative then they think they are. I also find inspiration in movie production.
I really study them, read the credits, learn how it’s made, when, who. I want to know who are the writers, not just the actors. There might be a star, but it’s the coordinating of the people under one roof that’s truly inspirational.
Tell me about your most recent project.
We’re working on a large commercial development on Kings Highway in Brooklyn. It’s located on a busy pedestrian intersection, so we focused a lot of attention on its facade and proportion. We worked carefully with the figure ground while paying close attention to choosing a facade to showcase a subtle, proportional balance. We selected a facade that included three different surface finishes of terra cotta rain screens, aluminum panels, and glass.