[From February Issue 2010]

Ikejiri Institute of Design (Setagaya School of MONOZUKURI) is located from just several kilometers west of Shibuya. The school was designed to be a place for creators in design, architecture and art and offer opportunities to meet each other and learn from one another.

Mr. MATSUMURA Takuya serves as the “school principal” although his official title at Ikejiri Institute of Design is managing director. “When we first opened the school, we faced considerable opposition from the neighborhood. People had strong concerns and unease about having many young people in their neighborhood because many deadly attacks had happened in schools throughout Japan at that time. Also, we are next to an elementary school, and there is a pre-school behind us, so people became very nervous. Now we have meetings with people in our community four times a year. We discuss, share the information and try seeking the direction for consensus with people when the issues arise,” Matsumura says.

This school opened in October 2004 as a temporary plan to revive Ikejiri Middle School. At first, Setagaya Ward officials requested the school to keep the school building unchanged. So, a local furniture designing company did the remodeling without changing appearance.

Currently all spaces in the school are fully occupied by 41 different companies. Occupants may be individuals, groups of designers, inexperienced or experienced, unknown or well-known designers working in companies as diverse as a film distribution company, the design research department of a major electric company, the editing division of a magazine devoted to parenting, a food coordinating company, and a “bread sommelier” association, but they have all connected under a common theme, “design and monozukuri.”

“There has been a blossoming interaction among school residents. They even sometimes work together in collaborative activity. The general public can tour the school themselves, allowing an open-minded atmosphere that private business companies do not have,” Matsumura says.

In addition, the school offers classes for people who want to be designers or launch their own business. Matsumura himself has given lectures of how to prepare for starting a business. The school also offers workshops such as woodworking, instructed by furniture designers, and one on making snow domes instructed by Japan Snow Dome Association.

The school renews its contract with Setagaya Ward every five years. “The school was able to fit in the community and gained more of their understanding in the first five years,” Matsumura says. As a result, the ward approached the school to extend their contract. “We would like to express more the individuality of the school in the coming five years. Head office will organize more events in the future and we would like to make school residents even prouder of the school.”