Stationery Items that Makes You Want to Show off.
Stationery Items, a Discussion with a Science-Girl who Developed the Product
How do you all fancy stationery items? There are just so many with adorable designs and incredible functions. And all of them must have a story behind them... In this ongoing series of articles, Tokyu HANDS buyer Imazu will calls out various stationery manufacturers to have a girl's time out discussing all-things stationery. We will even hear stories behind the development of these curious products.
Our guest today in volume 5 of this series is Ms. Hara, who is in charge of project development at Sun-Star Stationery Co., Ltd. We got the inside scoop on the development process and the commitment put into the popular <DELDE> sliding pen-case series.
From Making Cars to Making Stationeries. The Developer of a Popular Stationery Item was a "Science-Girl".
Left: Imazu Right: Hara
Imazu: Thank you for this interview today.
Hara: No problem. My name is Hara and I am in charge of developing creative stationery products. It's my pleasure to be here!
Imazu: When you talk about creative stationeries, this <DELDE> series hits right off!
The flagship product of <DELDE>, the pen-case, pen-pouch (standard colors) each ¥1,200 + tax
Hara: Yes it does. <DELDE> is a stationery / accessory and utensils brand that combines functionality and design. DELDE's first launched product, a stand-alone type pen-case "pen-pouch" was my first-ever idea to be commercialized after I joined the company.
Imazu: Wow, really!? Do you have a lot of ideas stored up?
Hara: Everybody contributes about 2 to 5 ideas once a week.
Imazu: That many!? A week!? Wow (laughs).
Hara: I have been with this company for 4 years now, and probably contributed almost 540 ideas.
Imazu: That is a lot! Do you have any type of theme when you come up with your ideas?
Hara: Sometimes, and sometimes not. In the case of the pen-pouch, I just focused on a pen-case and based my ideas around that.
Imazu: To constantly contribute that much ideas you must be always thinking about stationeries. Were you always into stationeries?
Hara: I just really enjoy making things, not just stationeries. Since I was a kid, I've always wanted to work in creating products. When I was in college, I was in the department of science and engineering where I studied how to manufacture cars and windmills.
Imazu: Cars!? Windmills!? I never expected that. Then how did you end up working in stationery...?
Hara: Since industry products like cars take years to become available to the general public, I wanted to work with products that have a much shorter timespan from planning to development and finally launching in market.
Imazu: I see. So that's how you ended up at a stationery manufacturer.
The Popular Pen-Pouch was inspired from a "Pointer Stick"!?
Imazu: We can't talk about <DELDE> without talking about the Pen-Pouch!
Hara: Yes! As you can see here, it can be used not only for a pen case, but also as a cosmetic bag. Just pull the tag down like this and the product turns into a pen stand.
Imazu: When I first saw how this worked, I was personally pretty amazed. How do you find the inspiration for these ideas?
Hara: This one came about from understanding the mechanics of those "pointer sticks" that teachers use in the classroom.
Hara: To demonstrate it during my presentation, I made a prototype to make it easy to see and understand how it would work.
Imazu: You are right, it does sound a little tricky to verbally explain this function. And you even managed to closely reproduce what you were thinking, that is amazing! You are truly a science-girl!
Hara: Oh, thank you (laughs).
Imazu: The prototype is nearly perfect too, was there anything that you were particularly careful about?
Hara: I put a lot of emphasis and commitment into the sturdiness of the red-cloth part. If this part is not strong enough, it will be hard to slide the tag. On the other side, if the fabric is too hard, the pouch will lose its "cuteness" and so it took a while until I was able to find the perfect material. To stabilize the bottom, I used an even sturdier material. But I also added cushioning on the insides to keep the pen-tips from being damaged.
Imazu: Wow, I didn't know the sturdiness was different on the bottom and on the sides. That is a lot of care and detail put into this.
Enjoy Every Season and New Offerings Limited-Only Seasonal Designs!
2018 Collection Pen-Pouch (left 2: Spring, middle 2: Summer, Right 2: Fall and Winter designs) ¥1,380 + tax each
Imazu: Every season there is a new pen-pouch design from <DELDE>, how do you decide on the design?
Hara: I look through various fashion brand collections to decide on the material and colors.
Imazu: That doesn't sound like a stationery manufacture...in a good way of course. I'm always curious about what kind of designs are coming up next too.
Hara: Oh, that's wonderful! Thank you!
New Product: Pen-Pouch ¥1,380 + tax each
Hara: In January 2019, we launched a new pen pouch with a side pocket.
Imazu: What were the reasons for adding a pocket?
Hara: With previous versions we had feedback from customers that taking out items like erasers were a bit of a hassle, so as solution, we added a side pocket.
Imazu: I see. The pocket itself has extra depth to it so it looks like it would be easy to store things. There are so many new designs and shapes coming out constantly for this series, but aside from Hara-san, are there any other persons in charge?
Hara: I am the only one in charge of the <DELDE> series.
Our company's basic policy is for one individual to be fully responsible from the design, cost breakdown, following the orders with the factory, gathering props for catalog photo shoots, to creating copies for advertising, etc.
Imazu: That is incredible! I have seen working as a team of two at other companies, one person doing the planning and the other person as designer. That sounds very new to me.
Hara: I'm not going to lie, it is tough. But at the same time I get to design my own vision so it is worthwhile.
[New Product] It may Look like a Wallet...but it's Pen-Tray!
New Product: Flat-Pouch ¥1,600 + tax each
Imazu: In January 2019, another type of pen-case became available! Why did you want to launch a new pen case?
Hara: I heard through my sources that certain schools prohibited use of the stand-alone pen-cases. That is why instead of a stand-alone type, I decided to develop a convenient one like this pen-tray type pen-case.
Imazu: I see. It looks like this type of pen-case is popular.
Hara: Yes it is. So in addition to integrating it with <DELDE> features, we aimed towards making it easy-to-use.
Hara: For example, just by opening the lid it turns into a pen-tray in the same size, so there is no concerns of this ever getting in the way on a desk. And you can keep it open, so it's easier to find and grab whatever items you need, like a pen.
Imazu: Not taking up much space is also true with the pen-pouch. Was there anything that you had been inspired of when you designed this?
Hara: I got the idea from a foldable case for eyewear.
Imazu: Ah, eye glasses case! Think outside the box that is.
Hara: Anytime I see something useful and interesting, I try to keep a note of it.
Imazu: Your way of gathering ideas are "useful and interesting" I take it. Just by looking at it, you wouldn't think that this wallet would have a pen inside (laughs). Were there any issues in developing this?
Hara: It has a flat shape, so space became an issue. Also, when placing pens inside, the zipper got stuck, so we added mode depth. It took a while until I realized these extensions were necessary.
Imazu: What triggered the idea to add extensions in the first place?
Hara: A colleague of mine just flat-out told me "why not add an extension?".
Imazu: I see. With the extensions, I see that the pens are nicely enclosed and the case becomes easy to open. There are so many color variations, how do you choose the colors?
Hara: I look through brands that are popular with high school and college kids and select the colors.
Izumi: Again, I see that you your ideas on design and color comes from fashion.
Plenty of Other Accessories and Utensils like the Instantly-changing Bag Series!
Clutch In-Bag ¥3,500 Dangle Pouch ¥2,000 + tax (currently unavailable)
Imazu: In the spring of 2018, you introduced bags and card case accessories, expanding the <DELDE> series.
Hara: I never thought it would grow this much too.
Imazu: Why did you decide to develop a bag?
Hara: Because I wanted something to carry the pen-pouches. And in doing so, I knew that it had to address certain issues that I had often found inconvenient, so I put special care in its features.
Imazu: I see.
Tote Bag ¥5,800 + tax (currently unavailable)
Hara: In case of the product in the photo, a tote bag is better when riding in trains because it takes up less space when you carry it. And if the bag becomes heavy, you can also carry it like a backpack. I felt that this bag can accommodate any situation you needed on a daily basis, so there was no need to change what bags you need every day.
Imazu: Of course, a bag that can accommodate how it is used would be very useful.
Hara: So I looked up various 2-way bags made by other companies and tried to find a simpler way to change how it can be used.
Imazu: The handle of the tote bag can slide to be a shoulder belt of a backpack. This is practical, and easy because you don't have to put back or remove anything.
Hara: Our clients have pointed out that "No other bag manufacturers have done this", and that made me really proud of this idea that is in line with the <DELDE> brand.
Imazu: The <DELDE> series all have features that makes you want to show off to your friends.
Hara: I personally always try to make a product that is easy to use and convenient, but also comes with features that make me want to show everyone.
Imazu: I just love stationeries and accessories that offers so much discussion! The <DELDE> series just keeps evolving, and I hope to see what other new products are going to be available in the future!
Final Words and Comments◎
I hope that a <DELDE> product will become a topic of discussion in everybody's daily life. I will continue to try and offer more practical and adorable stationeries and accessories!
*The items featured in this article may not be available in some stores. Contact the stores for information regarding availability.
*Certain stores may offer the featured items only through a back order.
*Please note that prices and specifications are subject to change and that availability may be limited.
*The photos featured here may include items that are only for display purposes.
*Information such as product pricing is based at the time of this article.