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Hideki Yoshimoto

MPhil Innovation Design Engineering 2010–16

I did a BA and a Masters, majoring in aeronautics engineering. It was a condensed study, and I was interested in bringing technology to the entertainment field. I wanted to keep working in technology in art and design. I preferred to keep studying than working at a company because I had strong passion for reshaping my core interests. I wanted to do a PhD in this and found IDE was a good place to start a new period of study in design. 

RCA is one of the top qualified colleges. I learned about it when [Professor] Miles Pennington was doing workshops in Tokyo. He is good at involving people from Japan – in my case, it was through my professor at university and he told me to get in touch with IDE.

I also applied to MIT, Stanford. The choice was between a very technical based university or diving into a completely new environment. I wanted to change my thinking, out of an engineering way, so that I could have originality in technology. My strength was Artificial Intelligence in the field of aeronautical engineering, where the thinking is very deep and very narrow. In design, you look at things much more broadly.

I had quite a difficult time as my background is very different. What I was encouraged to do here is not encouraged back home and visa versa. Designers have a big responsibility to choose their target audience but engineering is more about producing a collection of evidence to prove that that target audience is the right one. It’s good to have both ways of thinking.

My topic in MA proposed airships as a media for entertainment performance, for use at a club or a music venue. I made blimps that had a light source that reacts to the music.

My current topic is looking into how technology might take on human life qualities. Design has tried to do that but with a new technology we can give it more behavior. I’m trying to give inanimate technology or systems emotion and behaviour, particularly around repeated rhythm such as breathing and heartbeat. 

In terms of funding, I got a scholarship which covers all my fees and living expenses for three years. It’s from the Funai Foundation Scholarship programme, which in Japan is the foundation of a private company. There are five or six major foundations that provide that level of support. It’s not easy to find but it’s possible. I have a passion to do new things in a new environment, which is appealing for them. I did well in my masters and wrote many papers, I’ve exhibited at international conferences and won two awards.

What you learn here at the RCA is dependent on your motivation. But what is really good on IDE is seeing my colleagues all go through such big changes. I’m interested in setting up my own studio but I don’t know if that comes after graduation or working at a company. 

"What I’m developing is not only skills, it’s a philosophy."
Hideki Yoshimoto
Hideki Yoshimoto