Located in Higashiosaka (East Osaka City), the Ohara Electric Wire Co. is a small family-run operation that manufactures heavy duty, high quality, high-voltage extension cords for manufacturing environments.
Gen Suzuki, an RCA-educated product designer who worked for IDEO prior to setting up his own firm, designed the extension cords after visiting the Ohara's facility and getting to know the family. Suzuki realized that "Electric wires are an important infrastructure that supports society, but they are extremely anonymous;" impressed with the Oharas' commitment to craftsmanship, Suzuki felt he could let their spirit provide "an aura to anonymous mass-produced products."
"The three types of extension cords, cross type, straight type, and rainproof type, are all straight to the function and have no unnecessary details.
"The diameter of a high-quality VCT cable that can handle high voltages is large, but it is moist and soft, so it is easy to handle.
"The electrodes and body are integrally molded so that they can withstand use at home, stores, construction sites, and outdoors, so they are durable.
"The design, which is made of a single material from the main body to the cord, is straightforward, quiet, and somehow adorable."
The project between Suzuki and the Oharas is part of an initiative called Higashiosaka FACTOR, whereby the region's industrial companies are paired with designers who can help them expand beyond industrial clients.