Tomohiko Sato, Mai Seki, Satoko Hinomizu, Satoshi Sukeguchi, Mei Takada, Hitachi, Ltd./Ms. Yuki Okada, Mr. Kazushi Tokumasu, Mr. Rei Noguchi, ACTUS CO., LTD
On December 14, 2021, Research & Development Group, Hitachi hosted and streamed a webinar entitled "Workplace and Residential Lifestyle After the Pandemic," in which Ms. Yuki Okada, Mr. Kazushi Tokumasu and Mr. Rei Noguchi from ACTUS CO., LTD, a Japanese interior design firm that continues to propose new lifestyles, were invited to take part in a round-table discussion with Hitachi employees involved in projects including home appliance design and urban development. The participants shared their views on the "Perfect Relationship Between Work and Life" after the pandemic, from three perspectives; time spent at home, work style and wellness.


[Part 1] The meaning of "Time spent at home," from the perspectives of interior and home appliances
[Part 2] Furniture and interior demands reflected on changes in work style
[Part 3] How can we enhance "wellness" after the pandemic?

Research & Development Group, Hitachi, Global Center for Social Innovation – Tokyo
Product Design Department, Leader Chief Designer, Satoshi Sukeguchi (host): design manager of home appliances and home solution division.
Product Design Department, Product Designer, Tomohiko Sato: oversees the design development of refrigerators.
Product Design Department, Product Designer, Mai Seki: oversees the design development of vacuum cleaners and air purifiers.
Value Creation Project, Service Designer, Satoko Hinomizu: oversees solution creation for cities.
Value Creation Project, Service Researcher, Mei Takada: studies urban development, work style and ideal office environments.

Visual Merchandiser, Ms. Yuki Okada: oversees the design supervision of Hitachi's refrigerator project.
European Furniture Buyer, Mr. Rei Noguchi: responsible for the buying of European furniture and product development.
Indoor Plant Buyer, Mr. Kazushi Tokumasu: oversees lifestyle and indoor plant brands.

Perspectives of product design and inspirations of interior.

Sukeguchi, Hitachi
My name is Satoshi Sukeguchi, Leader Chief Designer in the Product Design Department of Research & Development Group, Hitachi. I will be the host of this discussion. Today, we bring you a round-table discussion with guests from the interior industry, ACTUS CO., LTD and Hitachi employees to discuss the topic of the "Perfect Relationship Between Work and Life."

画像: Satoshi Sukeguchi of Hitachi, host

Satoshi Sukeguchi of Hitachi, host

In 2019, by request of our design team, ACTUS supervised Hitachi's refrigerator design development. During the project, I learned from you that "Nordic countries receive little sun throughout the year and have long winters, which inevitably results in them spending a lot of time at home. And this is the reason why the culture cherishes the 'time spent at home' and the interior industry has flourished." I was very impressed by this. By a curious coincidence, the coronavirus dramatically changed the lives of Japanese people as well and we are spending more time at home too. I decided to organize this round-table discussion because I thought it was the right time to think about our new post-Covid lifestyle together with ACTUS, who has been pushing the concept of a "richer life" for some time.

画像: Hitachi's "R-HWS47KC" refrigerator that was developed under the design supervision of ACTUS (right side on the back).

Hitachi's "R-HWS47KC" refrigerator that was developed under the design supervision of ACTUS (right side on the back).

画像: A compact refrigerator "Chiiil" that was designed to match interiors. This refrigerator was also supervised by ACTUS (available at stores from spring 2022).

A compact refrigerator "Chiiil" that was designed to match interiors. This refrigerator was also supervised by ACTUS (available at stores from spring 2022).

From ACTUS, we invited three guests; Ms. Yuki Okada, Mr. Rei Noguchi and Mr. Kazushi Tokumasu.

Ms. Okada, ACTUS
My name is Yuki Okada. I work as a Visual Merchandiser at ACTUS. I oversaw the design supervision of Hitachi's refrigerator project that Mr. Sukeguchi just mentioned.

Mr. Noguchi, ACTUS
My name is Rei Noguchi. I work as a European Furniture Buyer and I'm also responsible for the product development of furniture.

Mr. Tokumasu, ACTUS
My name is Kazushi Tokumasu. I work as an Interior Accessory Buyer of the lifestyle brand "SLOW HOUSE." I'm also an Indoor Plant Buyer for "NODERIUM," a brand that features ornamental indoor plants.

Sukeguchi, Hitachi
Thank you for being with us today. From Hitachi's R&D Group, Tomohiko Sato, Mai Seki, Mei Takada and Satoko Hinomizu will be taking part in the discussion.

Sato, Hitachi
My name is Tomohiko Sato. I'm a Product Designer. I oversee the design development of refrigerators.

Seki, Hitachi
My name is Mai Seki. I'm a Product Designer. I oversee the design development of vacuum cleaners and air purifiers.

Hinomizu, Hitachi
My name is Satoko Hinomizu. I'm a Service Designer. I'm mainly involved in the solution creation for cities based on the theme of Smart Cities.

Takada, Hitachi
My name is Mei Takada. I'm a Service Researcher. I mainly work with developers to study issues such as urban development, work styles and ideal office environments.

Home appliances and interior demands changed by the pandemic

画像: Home appliances and interior demands changed by the pandemic

Sukeguchi, Hitachi
Now, let's begin with our first topic. During the two years of the pandemic, time spent at home has increased. What kind of new demands or changes in values are being generated in the field of interior and home appliances respectively? Let's begin with the Hitachi team.

Seki, Hitachi
In 2020, when people in Japan received the 100,000-yen handout from the government as part of their emergency economic measures, cordless stick vacuums sold like hotcakes. With more people working from home, convenient stick vacuums became the item of choice because there was an increased need to tidy up the areas around the house now involved in work and use up new-found spare time.

画像: Mai Seki, Hitachi

Mai Seki, Hitachi

Sato, Hitachi
Cooking at home also grew exponentially. So the inclination to stock up on food and drinks grew stronger as well. Notably, daily "routine chores," such as frequently checking the refrigerator to make sure you don't forget an important piece of food or drink, have also increased, placing a further burden on consumers. Seeing the state of the world, Hitachi launched a product called "Smart Stocker" in March 2021. Smart Stocker aims to become the "second refrigerator" that can preserve food and drinks bought in bulk.

画像: Tomohiko Sato, Hitachi

Tomohiko Sato, Hitachi

A weight sensor installed inside the stocker detects the remaining amount of food and drink. The information is then sent to the smartphone app. Thanks to this, you can manage how much you have left for household staples. The application is linked to online grocery stores, so making additional purchases is easy. I think the demand for these products will stay with us even after the pandemic.

Sukeguchi, Hitachi
Let's have a word from the ACTUS team.

Mr. Tokumasu, ACTUS
"Even if I spend long stretches at home, by using furniture and interior accessories that are slightly more premium, I want to make sure it's comfortable." I feel that this kind of demand is growing. The first product that started to sell when the pandemic hit was a mid-tier luxury sofa aimed at the whole family. The next was ornamental indoor plants. At ACTUS, we place indoor plants somewhere between "more than interior, but less than a pet." They aren't as demanding as a pet, but unlike interior ornaments, they grow every day, which creates a feeling of attachment. I think this demand perfectly matches everyone's life under the pandemic.

画像: Mr. Kazushi Tokumasu, ACTUS

Mr. Kazushi Tokumasu, ACTUS

Seki, Hitachi
Since the pandemic, I started having more indoor plants at home too. Simply having plants inside the house gives me the feeling of the fresh outside air and reinvigorates me.

Mr. Tokumasu, ACTUS
We feel ill at ease when there are no organic entities, such as living things, around us. I think everyone is born with this instinct. That's why many consumers ended up with plants inside their homes.

Objects, as inseparable elements of life.

Mr. Noguchi, ACTUS
In recent years, there has been a drastic change in lighting designs. In addition to the enhanced freedom of their designs thanks to the popularization of LEDs, portable cordless lights have also been catching on too. However, as time spent at home increased due to working from home, I think many people realized the importance of lighting, such as allowing oneself to switch on/off by simply changing the light. I think the supply-demand relationship between lighting and households has finally coincided today.

画像: Mr. Rei Noguchi, ACTUS

Mr. Rei Noguchi, ACTUS

Mr. Tokumasu, ACTUS
I think there are two factors to this. Firstly, as Mr. Noguchi mentioned, more people are looking into the meaning of "comfort" after being confined to one's house for longer periods due to the pandemic.

Secondly, more people are starting to realize that they can live more comfortably by using existing products. When everyone in your family is home, whether it be the middle of the day or not, and each one of them is working, studying or doing chores, it's essential to always have your personal space inside the house. The portable light that Mr. Noguchi mentioned is perfect for this kind of lifestyle.

Sato, Hitachi
The Smart Stocker that I spoke of previously was designed to be placed, not only in kitchens like traditional refrigerators but also in living rooms and dining rooms as well.

画像: "Smart Stocker" refrigerator developed by Hitachi (left)

"Smart Stocker" refrigerator developed by Hitachi (left)

I think it's about the "gravity" that a product emits. After all, "objects are inseparable elements of life." Where you place the portable light becomes your personal space where you can read books or drink. I think we will see even more lifestyles within the home be created.


With the goal of enhancing quality of life in Japan and widely promoting the concept of a "beautiful and mindful way of living," ACTUS CO., LTD provides premium-quality products and services related to all aspects of food, clothing and housing through their broad range of sales channels. Their businesses span from the import and sale of European furniture and development and sale of their in-house label's furniture and sundries for their interior store "ACTUS," management of restaurants, cafes, and retail stores, renovation as well as interior design curation, design and construction of public and commercial facilities.

Click here for "[Part 2] Furniture and interior demands reflected on changes in work style"










Key Leader's Voice














EFO Salon



全生庵七世 平井正修住職に、こころを調え、自己と向き合う『禅のこころ』について話を聞く。





This article is a sponsored article by