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Luke Uyeda, Product Designer Newest addition to the Tenkara USA team

Luke Uyeda, Product Designer Newest addition to the Tenkara USA team

(Daniel): Tenkara USA is entering a new era. From the beginning I feel the company has followed the intended vision for its timeline. On our first year in business (2009) the important thing was to introduce and prove the concept of tenkara in the USA. Year 2 was focused on getting our business foundations in place and further introducing the idea of tenkara to fly-anglers. The third year was a year of discovering tenkara and really finding out as much about tenkara as possible and sharing that in more depth with those who are interested(that’s the year I spent 2 months in a small mountain village in Japan). Our fourth year was dedicated to start bringing tenkara to the masses. And, as I had predicted year 5 would be the year when we would start focusing more on innovations and new product development, not to clutter the marketplace but with the intention of simplifying it, keeping it authentic and making it more intuitive.

In preparation for year 5, I have been looking for a product designer that would be the ideal fit for our company.

I have worked with a few people and looked around a bunch. A few weeks ago I met Luke, who has joined us as a product designer intern. In the few short weeks since he’s come aboard Luke’s already made some significant contributions with his insights. The work he’s already done with us will soon be brought to market. His mandates are to design items that are clean and seriously intuitive. I expect we will break serious grounds in regards to tenkara design in the future.

But for now, I’d like for you to meet Luke and know that the feedback you have been providing through our forum and other medium will be incorporated in his work for us. If you have any feedback on products, feel free to share them here.

Meet Luke:

My Name is Luke Uyeda, I am a product designer completing my education at the Art Center College of Design. My design education started as a sophomore in high school taking class at Art Center’s Saturday High. As a Junior in high school, I interned for KohBarone Innovations in Venice, Ca. where I helped ideate and conceptualize a new line of footwear for Vibram. Through that internship I knew I was going to be a product designer. My design education has changed the way I think, fishing has changed who I am.

As a Yonsei (4th generation), Japanese American from West Los Angeles, I began fishing the Eastern Sierras before I could walk. My grandparents followed the Japanese American cultural of West Los Angeles and fished for trout in the Eastern Sierra mountain streams and lakes near Manzanar internment camp, where Japanese American of their generation were relocated during World War II. To this day, you will see three generations of Uyeda fishing Crowley Lake, opening week.

I was introduced to fly fishing about 3 years ago, through youtube videos and the Orvis Podcasts, and quickly fell in love with the sport.

I met Daniel at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Expo in February 2013. I was able to share with him my deep interest in combining my talents and perspective in the design field, elegant Japanese-influenced design, and my passion for fly fishing and the outdoors. We soon realized how his search for a designer and a new perspective, fit perfectly with my search for an opportunity for design thinking in the fly fishing industry.

The majority of the new fly fishing products are derived from “expert” opinions, customer experience, and prior solutions. This leads to products that are subject to bias, customer disconnect, and lack innovation. There is an opportunity for me to bring the process of design thinking into the fly fishing industry; new perspective and innovations through qualitative research, insight analysis, ideation, and form/function development.

Tenkara’s tradition allows users to take a minimalist approach to catching fish. So therefore, the products we use cannot clutter our tenkara experience. “Truly elegant design incorporates top-notch functionality into simple, uncluttered form.” – David Lewis, product designer, Bang & Olufsen

The tenkara industry in Japan has been conservative, but the few changes that have been made were problem-based solutions.The new direction of Tenkara USA will be determined by gathering qualitative research to find insights to how we fish tenkara, why we fish tenkara, and what makes us tick.

The products we hope to design should not be apparent, but transparent in your tenkara experience. “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Sparano, graphic designer, Oxide Design.