Interviewed by: Jesse Carr
Produced by: Dan Hwang
The G-Shock has become a staple. The Casio digital watch, with all of its history of technological advancements, has amazingly remained on-trend and in-demand. Ryusuke Moriai, the chief designer of G-Shock is not some fly-by-night design school grad looking to inject some “cool” into a product. Cool came to his products that he has worked on and refined for over 30 years.
After joining Casio in 1985, Moriai began working on various models of Casio’s famed digital watch line. He is responsible for the GA-100 series, DW06000, the DW-9900, and many more that you’ve seen on more than a few wrists. Unlike simply drawing or rendering images to plaster on a t-shirt, watch design is incredibly intricate. Each finished model is the product of many years of acquiring patents and technical know-how.
For the famed G-Shock collaborations with the likes of Kevin Lyons, Stussy, Eminem, F.C.R.B., Maharishi, Eric Haze, and Takeshi Murakami, (to name a few) G-Shock makes sure to stay true to its models. Artists add design touches to bands and packaging, but the technology required to make sure the watch grows old with you do never changes. Unlike a favorite hoodie, the watch is part of your repertoire each day, no matter the season.
In our conversation with Moriai, we learn of the dedication to shaping and refining an item that you bring with you every day and becomes part of your life story. We also got to learn about the dedication and years of experience that go into each item with the G-Shock name. Click through to read our interview with a man whose innovations are a part of contemporary culture.
Ryusuke Moriai, Chief Designer at Casio G-Shock
Freshness: What keeps you motivated to work on and tweak the design of something that you have stared at for endless hours already?
Ryusuke Moriai: My motivation is the Brand Loyalists that follow us. They are expecting great things from G-Shock and knowing that there is such an expectation keeps us moving forward to make every introduction great.
What innovations can we expect from the G-Shock going forward?
Electronic devices and digital technology will keep on evolving, but G-Shock will only adapt them after careful consideration. We will always keep our brand philosophy “Absolute Toughness” as the core of every watch. Based on this core principle, we will only create product based on real world uses and needs.
I don’t have a crystal ball but what I can say is, you should always expect that the needs of the wearer are always under consideration after ensuring that Absolute Toughness has been achieved.
Can you describe the process of collaboration with an artist like Eric Haze, Mr. Cartoon, Takeshi Murakami? To what extent is the collaborator able to contribute his or her input?
Our collaboration partners are able to work with us in a capacity that will not compromise the integrity of the watch, meaning it must look like a G-Shock and function like a G-Shock. For the most part, collaboration partners embellish the watch dial, the watch case, the watch band and the packaging. They do not want to redesign G-Shock, after all that is why they are collaborating with us, because they like G-Shock as it is. They are interested in adding their own design flair to it, not reinvent it.
Can you tell our readers about your design philosophy and how it differs from the fine arts?
Watches can be a life-long partner, sharing every minute and second with the wearer. It’s essential to one’s life to know the time. At the same time, it’s an accessory that should appeal to the wearer’s personality, much like the appeal of fine art.
The difference in designing a personal accessory versus a piece of art is it must withstand every day life and be able to be fused with the latest technology. A piece of art doesn’t have to be subjected to weather changes or bumps, but G-Shock does, this is why Absolute Toughness is always top of mind.
How do you adjust your products for different global markets?
All designs are offered for every global market, it is up to each sales division to select the appropriate designs within their market. G-Shock has global appeal so it is really up to each region to select the colorway/model that will work in their markets.
With such a long standing tradition with Casio’s iconic look, how do you keep an eye on future innovations?
For G-Shock the designers’ role is very diverse and important. They search and gather information on new materials, structures, functionality and fashion trends.
You design according to Casio’s iconic looks. How do you keep your eye on future innovations?
We always wanted to keep the G-Shock philosophy and one design direction under the G-Shock concept. That’s what we are going to do in the future.
Do you have a certain design philosophy that you subscribe to?
C is color. M is material. F is finishing. By applying new colors, new materials or new finishes, we are going to make a new G-Shock based on existing G-Shock ideas.
It seems like the GA-10 and GA-100 got a buzz when they first came out because first the technology and also the collaborators. Is there a particular reason that during that series that you collaborated with more artists with the GA-100 and the GA-110?
It looks like an ordinary analogue production watch to some extent. I wanted to create a new G-Shock style with analogue influences. My intention was to create a Japanese subculture model, so that’s why I could make a lot of variations to realize this kind of color. There are many color combinations on this model. It is influenced by the industrial design of steampunk.