I was just in Japan for a week working on our future generation ThinkPad offerings. I met Richard Sapper there along with Aaron Stewart from my North Carolina based design team. The trip there was a lengthy 24 hours door to door, including a 13 hour torture test of an airline seat. When I arrived at the hotel I was pretty much worn slick. International travel of this magnitude is brutal. We ate that evening at the Trader Vic's at the hotel. Seems a bit odd, but it was actually quite good and convenient. We got up at the crack of dawn the next morning, rode the train into Yamato, and began a week long marathon discussing, debating, and inventing the latest design details for ThinkPad. I think you will like what we are working on. While we were in Japan we got the opportunity to visit the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and tour the East Gardens. I love Japanese gardens and found this very inspirational from a design perspective. The Japanese attention to design detail and beauty is everywhere. Not so different from the ThinkPad design approach. While at the palace we were fortunate enough to get to observe a team of gardeners delicately prunning the black pines perched 50-75 feet in the air. Working without ropes or safety nets, they prune individual bits of the tree with small specialized scissors. At ground level, assistants scurry around picking up the clippings. It's really impressive to watch.
How high in the air are these people?
Japanese pruning scissors are a design treasure
Can you find the Imperial Palace?
Resting on the promontory
The trip to Japan was a great success. I got to visit my friends in Yamato, re-think next generation ThinkPad, and emerse myself in another design sensitive culture. I can't wait to go again. Maybe I can squeeze in a trip to Kyoto, the cultural hub for all Japanese gardening. I can only hope.