Kaoru Mende

Kaoru Mende

Lighting Designer


Born in Tokyo in 1950. Completed a master’s course at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. In addition to working as a producer and planner in a wide range of lighting design, from residential lighting to architectural lighting, urban and environmental lighting, he has organized a citizens’ lighting culture research group, “Lighting Detective Group,” and is actively working as its leader.
He has been in charge of lighting projects for Tokyo International Forum, JR Kyoto Station, Sendai Mediatheque, Roppongi Hills, and China Central Television. He has received the International Lighting Design Award, the Japan Lighting Award, the Japan Cultural Design Award, and the Mainichi Design Award. He is currently the president of Lighting Planners Associates and a visiting professor at Musashino Art University. He is a member of the International Association of Lighting Designers, the Architectural Institute of Japan, and the Illuminating Engineering Institute of Japan. His publications include “The Art of Architectural Lighting” (TOTO Shuppan), “World Lighting Detective” (Kajima Shuppan-kai), and “Designing Shadows” (Rikuyosha).

Thoughts on Design

“Keep the spirit alive...”
Design is a little ingenuity that can make our ordinary lives more enjoyable and make us happier.
Design, after all, has to be fun and interesting.
Design is an act that moves back and forth between science and art, but sometimes it is more strongly related to and influences the raw events of society and economy.
Design, unfortunately, does not necessarily mean only noble acts.
Lying and vulgar advertising, weapons design, and unnecessary lighting are also the result of design.
This is why designers should not get carried away.
Sometimes humility is the key.
I sometimes translate design as “intention”.
I translate design as “intention” because I believe that for a design to be appreciated by the times, the intention needs to be clearly explained.
If possible, I would like to go one step further and say “will” instead of “intention”.
These days, I am keenly aware that the “will” of the designer is especially important.

Representative work

  • 1996 | Tokyo International Forum

  • 2012 | Gardens by the Bay

  • 2003 | Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims

  • 2005 | Kyoto State Guest House

  • 2005 | Chino Civic Center

  • 2015 | Minna no Mori Gifu Media Cosmos

  • 2000 | Sendai Mediatheque

  • 1997 | Kyoto Station Building

  • 2012 | Marunouchi Station Building, Tokyo Station

Interview (Japanese)

From the exhibition “Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers’ Hidden Sketches and Mockups