Cool and collected, Naoya Takahashi is a second-year Industrial Design student. He has a unique aesthetic reflective of his distinctive east-meets-west background.

Do you fear change or do you welcome it?
I tend to welcome changes. Changes are something inevitable so I embrace it, try to view it as something positive, and try to go through with it.
What program are you in?
I am in Industrial design, second year. I was drawn to this program because I had working experience back in grade 10, while I was living in Germany; I went to Adidas headquarters, and had the chance to be in the running shoes design department. That was when I figured out I really want to do Industrial design. I strongly feel that Industrial design is a good match for me. I enjoy what I do in every class, and I really like making and designing things with my own hands.
What is your background?
My background is Japanese and my hometown is called Nagoya. It has been pretty interesting so far because back in 2011, right before grade 8, I moved from a public Japanese school to an international school in Germany. It was a big change for me since I came from a normal Japanese school and I didn’t speak any English. Moving to Germany I had to start speaking a completely different language and learn the normal school stuff from middle school to high school in English. I was there for three years. I struggled at first but I also really enjoyed it because it was benefiting me by giving me a lot more options in terms of what I can do and where I can go. In the last few years of high school, I went back to Japan with my family, and went to international school there. Then, after I graduated, I came to OCAD.
How did art/design become a part of your life?
Since I was little I have always loved making things with paper, or any kind of material that was available. As I got older I started getting into wood working and just got really into making things with my hands.
What was your first experience with OCAD?
The funny thing about this is that I just typed in ‘Canadian design school – Industrial design’ when I was looking into schools back in high school, and OCAD was the first one that came up. I picked it since it was in the city, which is where I wanted to be. I also applied to other schools, a couple in the US and England.
How do you feel about formal education?
If you’re really set on what you want to do and if that requires special skills, I think formal education would be really helpful. But if you’re not sure of what you want to do yet, or if it doesn’t require specific skills that you will learn from school, then I don’t think it’s necessary to go to school just because everyone goes to college or university.
Do you think OCAD is benefitting you?
Yes, definitely.
What other creative things are you doing outside of school?
In my own time I dabble into making rap/trap kind of music. I have started making my own clothes as well, which is something I am really passionate about.
What do you aspire to do when you graduate?
When I graduate I want to get into the industry, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do. Recently I did a project on soft goods, which I really enjoyed doing. That is something I want to consider doing in the future.
What do you hope to get out of your education? / What have you gotten out of your education so far?
Through these four years I would like to be able to draw and communicate ideas of my designs in my own style, make a prototype and be able to create things on my own. My dream would be to have my own business by using the skills I learnt from school and use it in that entrepreneurial aspect of my future. So far, I have gotten the basic skills of working with wood, metal and plastic, as well as rapid prototyping, branding and also more of those intangible things and shaping that into the design.
Has OCAD been what you’ve expected so far?
The short answer would be no, just because I didn’t really expect anything and I didn’t have any idea of what I would actually be doing. But it has been really interesting being at OCAD, and it has also been really fun.
Who were you before university? Who have you become?
Before university I was just a normal kid in high school, slacking off, not doing anything much. The only classes I enjoyed were the art classes. But now I have become a lot more responsible by working hard in class, getting good grades, and generally outside of school as well. Just in general, I feel like I have grown a lot since I’ve been here.


Photography by Charisse Fung and Valerie Poon