Pokémon Scholars of 2018 engage in exchange programs in Japan

The recipients of the 2018 Pokémon Scholarship, Amir Afshar (Innovation Design Engineering) and Jesse Cahn-Thompson (Information Experience Design), visited Japan in early April to participate in a program to deepen their understanding of creative thinking around Pokémon.

The two scholars visited several companies, including GAME FREAK inc., the developer of the Pokémon video game series, and Niantic Inc., the developer and operator of the Pokémon GO mobile app. The purpose of the visits was to exchange ideas about creative thought processes and to gain a better understanding of the companies’ contributions to the elaborate world of “Pokémon.” They also had a chance to meet with an RCA alumni and honorary fellow, Kinya Tagawa, who heads his own design firm, Takram. As part of the week-long exchange, the two scholars shared with designers of the Pokémon universe their own work, while drawing inspiration from the inner workings of The Pokémon Company and its business partners.

Amir Afshar’s comment

The Pokémon team explained the many thoughts and considerations that go into world building and narrative. They shared insights into how they develop their brand and how they continue to explore new avenues while keeping the identity and ethos of the company still present at all times. I was very inspired by how a singular brand can adapt to be everything from a game for young children through to high end designs for fashion week shows globally.

Jesse Cahn-Thompson’s comment

The exposure and conversation helped reinforce the idea that innovation and impact comes from unexpected places. Continuing to apply that concept to my own work by reaching outside of my comfort zone will remain a constant. Increasing my awareness of the balance between randomness and formulation in the planning and making processes is something I gleaned from the experience and will have an impact on my future work. Learning to adapt, staying true to narrative principles, and being inspired by outside sources was something that was clear in the company ethos. I would sum up the impact as a reminder to keep fresh eyes for imagining new possibilities and that joy in art and design is an essential part of holistic, sustainable creativity.