What makes your design process yours? Ken Kirton explores HATO’s three design pillars
RGD DesignThinkers 2020. Sponsored by Rebel.com. Play, participation and culture.
What governs your design practice? In his talk at DesignThinkers 2020, Kenjiro Kirton, Co-Founder and Creative Director of HATO, explores the ideals that set the foundation for his studio's work.


Pillar one: Incorporating play

Ken talks about how the practice of play underscores HATO's pedagogy, process and ways of thinking. They see play as an act of creativity and innovation. Incorporating the process of play into their work ensures that they enjoy what they make and that their clients do too.


Question for further thought: Do you incorporate play into your work? Is there a concept or theme that shows up in your approach to every project?


Pillar two: Encouraging participation 

HATO's second pillar seeks to encourage participation by building trust and transparency with clients and stakeholders. By fostering trust and true relationships with those they work with and for, Ken notes that HATO can push and set new boundaries in their projects that truly hit the mark.


A screenshot of Ken\'s presentation, showing the D














Example: Festival Design for D&AD


HATO created a campaign for the D&AD Awards and Festival in 2018. The backbone of the project was mark-making: an ask for people from all over the world to create a simple mark via a digital tool (e.g. orange mark in photo above). These marks represented first ideas, first connections with clients, and all the ways creative professionals “make their mark.” HATO treated the entries with respect, viewing them as artwork, which in turn created a safe environment for entrants to be creative and bold. HATO used the marks on all marketing and festival collateral, creating a vibrant and engaging campaign. With over 10k visits to the digital tool, the campaign was a success, showing how open the creative community is to participation.


Pillar three: Building culture

Building culture for HATO is all about listening to the community and allowing them to inform their method of working. How can you bring who you're designing for into the heart of your design practice? How does your design solution contribute to a positive change for the community and group you're working for and within?


Final thoughts

Ken's talk deeply examines how our values intersect with and underscore our work as designers.


Do you have any pillars that provide the foundation for your design work? Have they evolved throughout your career or design journey?



Ken Kirton's talk at DesignThinkers 2020 Virtual was kindly sponsored by Rebel.com.


A word from Rebel: “This is Rebel’s second straight year as a sponsor of DesignThinkers. As a web hosting company that empowers people to get online, which has become more important than ever, we were excited to present Kenjiro’s talk to help inspire attendees during a year that really needs it.”