The City of Monozukuri: The Art of Making Things | Karl Stocker

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the power of design bookcoverThe City of Monozukuri: The Art of Making Things is a chapter about Nagoya, Japan, in a book by Austrian historian Karl Stocker, entitled The power of design : a journey through the 11 UNESCO cities of design.

The other 10 cities distinguished by UNESCO as “Cities of Design” are Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Graz, Kobe, Montreal, Saint-Etienne, Seoul, Shanghai and Shenzhen. The abstract of the chapter on Nagoya is as follows:

“With Nagoya at its center, the Chubu region is the world leader in monozukuri. As a result of technological innovation, local industries which traditionally flourished in the region developed into modern ones, eventually becoming today’s most advanced industries. For example, a textile industry began with the production of cotton fabrics, then developed into Japan’s first automatic loom manufacturing industry, and later became a leading automobile industry in the region.

The ceramics industry, which thrived thanks to an abundance of high-quality clay, evolved into the fine ceramics of today. And the Japanese clockwork technologies, initially applied to sophisticated mechanical dolls called Karakuri Ningyo, now form the basis of various machine and robot industries. Aichi Prefecture, which includes Nagoya, has led Japan in the shipment of manufactured products since 1977, demonstrating its strong global competitiveness with the world ‘s most advanced technologies.

The term monozukuri can be simply translated as “the production of things”, and is derived from the words mono meaning “goods’; and tsukuru meaning “manufacturing”. It is about a process of value-adding activities for the creation, reproduction, distribution and communication of customer’s design requirements. Of importance is the integration of technology in collaboration with development, supply and production.

Monozukuri is however also a state of mind regarding the tangible creation and perfecting of things. The primary goal is to strive to “exceed customer expectations” through the manufacturing of a perfect product. In reality the achievements and performances of Japanese companies have inspired Western methods of industrial production from logistics (‘Just in Time’ supply chains), through production (the Kaizen Principle, i.e. the improvement of a product through small steps), to personnel management (working in small groups, and continual feedback from the production level up to management).

The focal points of the areas of activity within the framework of monozukuri could be among other things the training of employees in the designing of excellent products for the best production costs, the improvement of the interface between development (designers) and production (assembly, installation), or the integration of the product and process in order to achieve the optimal function, quality, unit cost targets and productivity.”

The 2010 figures figures on industrial production by published by Statistics Japan (Odomon) bear out that Aichi prefecture is indeed leading the country:

Japan Industrial Production by Prefecture 2010 from stats-japan

The score is based on total industrial production, as collected by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, but the site does not explain how it is calculated.

4 thoughts on “The City of Monozukuri: The Art of Making Things | Karl Stocker

    Ronald Ferrill said:
    February 6, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    While I went to the site, it was clear that you gave me one clear warning bell to save me any time from further exploring the value of this event. Seeing the term “UNESCO” immediately makes it impossible to consider anything to do with this. It is not even sad, just laughable, that anyone would consider a United Nations group as having any credibility in anything, much less thinking in terms of Design or Getting Things Made, or done, and most especially doing something right (that is without payoffs to local and international politicians and their cronies).

      Michel Baudin responded:
      February 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Dear Ron:

      Our tour has nothing to do with UNESCO. Please do not dismiss it just because we are quoting a book about 11 cities that are on a UNESCO list.
      When I looked myself at the other 10 “Cities of Design” on the list, I was puzzled by the selection. I don’t understand what it is based on, and don’t really care.

      What did catch my attention is Karl Stocker, what he said about Monozukuri, and the connection with Toyota and Nagoya.

      Best regards.

        Ronald Ferrill said:
        February 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm

        Thanks, Michel. Your attention to this is appreciated. Therefore, I’ll review the event in detail to determine if it will be a worthwhile investment.

        Ron Ferrill

    Karl Stocker said:
    February 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks for posting this specific part of my book. You know, here in Graz, we are quite happy to be in the Design Network of the 11 UNESCO Cities of Design. For us it is not a just laughable case to participate there. Our benefit is that we are now connected with institutions and people in those cities who wants do discuss and share ideas for developing our cities with design and to learn from each other. The reason for me to write this book was to compare the very different approaches of design in these very different cities.

    Best greetings from Graz,

    Karl Stocker

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