The magic of human-centered design

A couple of weeks ago I discovered MT tape, the original Japanese washi masking tape. I had heard of washi tape before but that was all. Well, I was surprised to see the beautiful illustrations and collaborations with artists and designers on the products. Naturally, I gave in and purchased one roll with illustrations from Henri’s Walk to Paris, a children’s book illustrated by Saul Bass, and one with retro birds designed by Swedish artist Lisa Larson.

As I was exploring the site, I learned that:

In 2006, the company received an email from 3 women in Tokyo who were using their industrial tapes in beautiful craft projects. Amazed by this surprising and wonderful usage, Kamoi Kakoshi invited the women to visit their factory. This visit inspired the development of an entirely new and original category of tape: MT brand washi tape, colorful tape which is easy to tear by hand and reposition on nearly any surface.

It made me smile. It reminded me of the magic of human-centered design. Listening to and especially observing people gives you surprising and wonderful insights, which you can then turn into new opportunities.