"My father never believed in me saying dreams or ambitions. He always taught me to write them on a piece of A4 paper so they would become proofs of my dedication sent out to the future. I continue the ritual to this day."
Naoki Kotaka is the founder of Front, a Tokyo-based consultancy specializing in brand development and creative direction for international clients across art, fashion, culture and lifestyle sectors. Naoki has a background in architecture and worked for leading London design studio Amanda Levete Architects (formerly known as Future Systems). On relocating to Tokyo, he joined VACANT, where he ran the international projects and communications programs. In 2014, he formed FRONT and began working as a creative consultant. He is a contributing editor to FREE Magazine, Nichola Formichetti's latest publishing venture.
For 8 years I was involved with the world of architecture, both as a student and a professional in London. For 2 years, I was part of VACANT, the gallery/bookstore in Tokyo. Through that time I’ve gone: elitist and grass-roots, commercial and cultural, academic and self-taught, Japanese and exotic, advanced and DIY... etc etc. For everything I’ve experienced and created during those years, I felt the need to own a place where these seemingly unrelated elements can be united, basically connecting dots and making sense of myself to the world. So, in 2014 in Tokyo, I founded my creative consultancy, FRONT. We aim to engineer a new set of relationships through collaboration, celebrating and extending diversity through both cultural and commercial projects.
My father never believed in me saying dreams or ambitions. He always taught me to write them on a piece of A4 paper so they would become proofs of my dedication sent out to the future. I continue the ritual to this day.
I have neither but I have a role model, or rather a person, who I admire greatly. She is my former employer, Mrs. Amanda Levete, a visionary architect and a dedicated mother. I respect not only because of the incredible designs she and her team (including myself back in the day!) achieved over the years, or because of her sincere care towards her family and staff of all levels at the office, but because of her bold belief in every project she pursues. If she believes, she never hesitates but persuades to get projects going. I learned first-hand from her “the nerve” of putting your own voice creatively out to the world, with belief, confidence, and responsibility.
Seven Sisters in Sussex is a series of chalk cliffs by the English Channel. I got to know this place through a photograph titled End of Land 1 by a renowned German photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans. It depicts a young girl creeping to the edge of the cliff. Contrasting the beautiful white chalk cliff are surging rough seas on one side and vast grass-covered hills on another. The girl in the photograph resonated with me of formative years, terrified, yet extremely curious, to see “the end of land,” in another word the limit of your own. I’ve visited the cliff several times while living in London. I still remember to this day the sensational view from standing on the edge of the cliff, and it now has become a reminder of staying fearless and liberated in order to continue seeking the new view of the world.
I write strategies, interviews, and critiques but have never written a novel and always wanted to. So, I would like to write a novel about Tokyo staged between 2020 and 2025, a sort of a trend forecasting, and a manual for future living.
All images used with permission of Naoki Kotaka.