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Kenji Ekuan 1929–2015


Hugely influential industrial designer Kenji Ekuan, whose iconic works include the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, the Komachi Shinkansen (Bullet Train) and the Narita Express train, has died aged 85.

The longevity of his designs is thanks to a complete combination of wonderful aesthetics, fitness for purpose, ergonomics and a deceptively deep understanding of the user's needs. Perhaps his most famous design, the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle was inspired by watching his mother needing two jars for using soy sauce with meals. Anybody who has used the bottle can attest to how easy it is to use and how good it still looks over 50 years since its introduction.

Similarly, his design for the Komachi Shinkansen included a number of innovations that are not immediately obvious. Most bullet trains in Japan are wider than normal trains and run on specially constructed rails. For the Komachi, Ekuan designed a narrower, more aerodynamic train to fit on the scaled-down tracks and added extendable steps to reach platforms from the train's narrower body.

Funeral arrangements can be found on the GK Design website.