Friday Five with Norio Fujikawa

For this week’s Friday Five, we get to know designer and illustrator Norio Fujikawa of San Francisco-based design agency Astro Studios. After attending the Institute of Design in Chicago, he got his design feet wet as a senior designer at Fitch and then as a freelancer before a successful 14 year run as Creative Director at Astro Studios. Just recently, he was named the studio’s Executive Creative Director where he leads and inspires the teams beyond just product design. With Astro focusing on the future of design, Fujikawa’s passion for innovative technology along with his ability to navigate user’s needs, makes him the perfect creator to run projects for the studio. Read on to see what keeps inspiration at the forefront of this designer’s creative mind.

1. Sketchbook and Pen
I love to sketch and am rarely without my sketchbook and pen. Sketching, drawing and illustrating are at the core of what I am as a designer, and it is a foundational skill that we value at Astro. Whether putting pen to paper, digital pen to screen, or controller in VR, it’s important to be able to visualize an idea and communicate a concept.

2. San Francisco
Like many, I’m not originally from San Francisco, but I’ve now called it home for over 20 years. The San Francisco Bay Area continues to be the epicenter of technology and design innovation, and it is exciting to be in the heart of this particular innovation hub that attracts talented designers, including a few who I get to work with every day. It’s not a large city, but San Francisco has its share of art and culture against the ever-present technology industry to draw inspiration from.

3. “Instagram” (and all art sites)
Access and exposure to artists and designers from around the world has never been easier. We can argue the good and bad about social media and the addiction to our little screens, but I am constantly inspired by the awesome work I see come up on my screen. Traditional, digital, 2D, 3D, static, motion, whatever the medium, I love seeing what other artists and designers are creating.

4. People
I find people fascinating. How individuals and groups interact and how they behave is important to the work I do as an artist and designer. As an artist, I’m consistently influenced by the people I see out in the world. And I believe that as designers, we need to understand the people we’re creating for so we can design with them in mind.

5. Kinokuniya bookstore
I have enjoyed venturing into Kinokuniya ever since I moved to San Francisco. Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore in the middle of Japantown that I recommend to everyone who visits this city. They have everything from books, magazines, manga, anime, collectibles, toys, games – even shirts. It’s unbelievable how the Japanese have a magazine for pretty much anything you can think of. For me, this bookstore is like getting my little “fix” of Japan.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.