The second in the Silhouette series, highlighting some of the unsung heroes of the industry, takes a look at Yugo Nakamura…
With reverence, I approach this article.
Had I become a run of the mill journalist with no ties to the interactive industry, I may not have had this looming sense of anxiety hanging over me when writing about one of the great forefathers of the interactive world.
How does one start to describe a man who meticulously defines description itself?
A man who introduced most of us to a world he helped create, a true pioneer who put web design on the map and pioneered it into a true art based on process and science. A man who helped the world believe that the web was much more than a playground for geeks.
Yugo is about creating art for the small screen rather than just on the small screen. Yugo helped mold Flash from the very beginning and quite possibly helped to define its very purpose.
Any web designer who attempts to apply complex equations in order to output creative motion, data visualization and interactive environments and art owes much of what they are doing to the early work laid down by Yugo Nakamura.
Yugo didn't teach us anything new. He reminded us how to apply what we already know to a new platform that has become one of the most influential sources of new world culture today. He unearthed the possibilities and created a path for many of us to walk down.
Yugo's work is truly textbook in every sense of the word and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for setting the stage for the future designers and developers to follow in his footsteps and to treat the medium as a dynamic publication platform for all kinds of innovation and experimentation.
He helped us break free of the traditional Xs and Os of the computer world and took the web to new heights by showing us that we can truly express art, emotion, information and communication via the web in an infinite number of beautiful ways.
Yugo is one of those rare personalities who is able to bend his very soul through the prism of the web and deliver to us innovation time and time again.
Having already attained legendary status, he doesn't show any sign of slowing down, still blazing new territory with the Uniqlo brand and again completely redefining the user experience both online and off.
No one element in his work can properly describe him.
He is as multifaceted and complex as his early flash experiments. His ability to push such a complex medium has made him one of the very few recognized celebrities who have emerged from our industry, an industry still very much in its early stages.
I remember reading an early interview with him where he was explaining how grid oriented web design was the traditional standard set by HTML and how he wanted to smash that grid using Flash.
Now fast forward to his latest achievements, the Uniqlo branded sites, particularly the Uniqlo Explorer, which is the ultimate grid. His latest designs seem to now go back and embrace the very format he wanted to smash!
Now that is genius!
In the early stages of any growing industry there is always a shaky sense of identity that tends to morph as the industry better defines itself. A collective desire for the industry to take on the raw passion of those who drive it. Yugo embodies much of that identity in his work.
His playfulness is both light and serious. The industry professional will look in amazement at his accomplishments and be rendered in awe of his technical abilities while grandma may say how nice and fun he made that circle go bouncy.
His work speaks on many levels.
That is how we as an industry must look at ourselves, he sets an example for how we all must be in terms of technical tacticians and artistic engineers as well as a cultural influencer and revolutionaries.
Yugo's main influences include John Maeda, the creative technologist and theoretician from MIT Media Lab. Tomato, the art and design collective based in London at the start of the 90s and the famous dextro.org who started innovating design using Macromedia Director and based the designs on algorithms programmed in Lingo.
The collection of work between these three early innovators can serve as a textbook for any designer or developer looking to study the history of our young medium.
His additions to the aptly titled book New Masters of Flash had given birth to a new breed of designers and developers who were hungry for a change and needed someone like Yugo to inspire that change. He imbued the true spirit of his philosophy on those pages and gave us all a standard to live up to.
He has held and continues to hold the torch, lighting the way as we navigate to the next stages of our industry and he will forever hold a place in the history of our emerging medium that we live and work in.
I only hope I was able to truly capture his accomplishments and his influences in an accurate and honorable way.
Thank you Yugo.
About the Editor, Craig Elimeliah
Craig Elimeliah has taken the leap from the advertising world at Firstborn, where he has produced many award winning projects for top agencies, to the academic world where he plans on applying his experience to set a new standard in education and student experiences. Craig masterminded the Silhouette series for FWA in March 2008.