Category Archives: Heroes

Toshio Iwai


Above: Toshio Iwai with his Tenori-On digital musical instrument, due to launch in 2007.

Continuing my small series on personal heroes, I’m adding Toshio Iwai. I remember first seeing his work when my class from the RCA’s Computer Related Deign program went to the Doors of Perception conference in Amsterdam I think it was the second one, whose theme was home. This was in 1995, I think.

Toshio Iwai had an exhibition nearby of a lot of his work and I was totally blown away by it. It’s playful, creative, and usually focused on music. I remember his Musical Insects, designed while he was artist in residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It’s a grid containing small bugs that walk around in a predictable pattern, and in front of which you draw colored notes to “paint” music. There’s a clear evolution from that bit of work to the one that he’s probably best known at the moment, Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming console.






Toshio Iwai – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Heroes: Steven Holl

I’ve loved the work of Steven Holl ever since I walked into the St.Ignatius Chapel in Seattle and saw the light. Literally. This is the building my wife and I wanted to get married in, but it was not to be.

St. Ignatius #3 - Orange

Architect Steven Holl Combines Geeky Aesthetic, Environmental Elements
“Steven Holl’s buildings are more than beautiful — they’ve got brains, too. For 31 years, the New York architect has taken advantage of his obsessive interest in science to build inventive structures with a geeky alter ego. A scientific principle anchors the majority of his projects, whether it’s structural geology, as is the case with a Hawaiian residence designed to mimic the island’s tectonic movement, or structural engineering, found in the color-coded paint job done on MIT’s Simmons Hall.”

2 Japanese Heroes

Since this is a blog about the job I do as a designer in Microsoft Research, I thought I’d start a list of people whose work I really admire. These are not necessarily ‘computer’ people. More individuals whose imagination, integrity and output really shine.

First up are 2 Japanese heroes of mine. Not sure that the Japanese connection matters, but they both popped into my head at the same time. Both have an emphasis on fun and entertainment. Both are storytellers and creators of worlds.

Shigeru Miyamoto

Mr. Mario. Mr. Zelda. Mr. Donkey Kong. Impecable standards. Amazing imagination. And a deep, deep understanding of fun and engagement.
Read ‘A delayed game is eventually good; a bad game is bad forever‘ particularly.

Hayao Miyazaki

Another stickler for perfection. Co-founder and director of animation at Studio Gibli, whose imaginative and beautiful output has included My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.