Yutaka Nakamura

Insight Design

I am a cultural anthropologist, a design anthropologist, a writer, and the representative of Atelier Anthropology LLC. I am also a professor at Tama Art University’s Liberal Arts Center and graduate school.


Anthropological design

I believe that design based on anthropology should become the fundamental form of all design. I hope that anthropologists will work alongside all designers, and vice versa.


While the act of "creating" may not always have positive results and may even lead to violent outcomes, critical thinking and philosophy are necessary in any field that seeks to create something. However, criticism and introspection alone cannot solve social problems. Creativity alone cannot solve social problems either. Combining the two is important. Doing this alone can be difficult, but it can be done in a team! If we can examine and redesign existing systems, frameworks, standards, values, social relationships, and environments that have already been created together, it can truly become a creative endeavor.

"Slowly, softly, deeply"

This is a slogan given to me by the sociologist Michinobu Shinohara. I often remember it when I'm facing challenges, such as when I'm trying something new or when I'm stuck. I want to take things slowly, softly, and deeply, which makes me more considerate of people, living creatures, and things. Shinohara also says, "Our main job is being human." I always think, "That's right. That's why it's not easy."


I spent my childhood and teenage years in Utsunomiya, Sumida Ward, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Komatsu City, and Yokohama. I spent my high school years in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. I completed my studies at the Graduate School of Social Sciences at Hitotsubashi University, majoring in Earth and Social Sciences. My doctoral thesis was on “Community in Crisis: Language and Action among African-American Muslims in Harlem.” After conducting long-term fieldwork in Harlem, New York, I worked on themes such as violence, social suffering, cultural expressions of anti-violence, and social design for non-violence in “peripheral” areas. At the same time, I founded Atelier Anthropology, a design firm based on anthropology, and worked on social implementation with various companies, designers, and executives. I have been an external critic for the Good Design Award since 2020. I will launch the Circular Office at Tama Art University in 2023. I have authored several books including “Walking on the Edge of America – Anthropology of Travel” (Heibonsha, 2021), “Echoes of Harlem – Voices of Muslims Living on the Streets” (Kokuminsha, 2015), and edited “Art Class – Behind Creativity” (Koubundou, 2016). I have also translated “Uptown Kids – Public Housing and Street Culture in New York Harlem” (Ootsuki Shoten, 2010), written by Terry Williams and William Cornblum.