What is SOLIT's Conception of " Inclusive Design Based on Eastern Philosophy"?


The core idea that SOLIT has not yet fully expressed.

In 2023, SOLIT's Philosophy Reorganized in Response to Voices From Abroad

Recently, we have been gradually expanding our activities to other countries, mainly Japan, but also Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. In the course of these efforts, we have realized that a part of what was communicated based on a common language and common understanding in Japan with Japanese, is difficult to be communicated when it goes beyond the language barrier and across national and cultural differences.

In particular, the "philosophy" and "ideology" behind decision-making in our business and service design, as well as the " Eastern philosophy" approach that is tied to Japanese culture and history. In 2023, we have more opportunities to meet with overseas partners and clients. Although we have always shared the "HOW" of our business, such as how we solve various problems and challenges created by existing industries, we felt that we have not properly communicated the philosophy and ideology behind our business.

In the everyday discussions with our mentors, we realized that people who use the same kind of language in their business actually have a different fundamental way of thinking, and that even if they use the same abstract language, they have different perspectives on what they are trying to encompass.

The keywords are " inclusive design based on eastern philosophy" and "pluralism”.

We have recaptured two major keywords for our underlying philosophy: one is " Inclusive Design Based on Eastern Philosophy". The other is "pluralism".

We may have mentioned these aspects in our presentations and proposals to people and organizations that we have worked with, but when we tried to reiterate them in language, we came to the conclusion that our philosophy can be summed up in these two words.

People interested in diversity, sustainability, and DE&I have often heard of "inclusive design," which has been spreading since the 1970s as a new design scheme and concept, along with barrier-free and universal design, and is now becoming increasingly common in the fields of disability and welfare in Japan.

Although the term "inclusive design" itself is gaining popularity, it is often just a word that is spreading, and we feel that it is often conveyed without capturing its essence, or that different people have different images of what it means. When reflecting on our view of "inclusive design," we noticed a few characteristics that we would like to discuss in the next chapter.

Inclusive Design Based on Eastern Philosophy and Plurality

What exactly is inclusive design?

Inclusive Design" originated with Professor Roger Coleman at the Royal College of Art in London, England. Inclusive design differs from design thinking and universal design in that it emphasizes the importance of working together from the planning stage, rather than simply listening to social minorities and those affected by issues.

Simply taking questionnaires or conducting interviews can approach the needs that are apparent and of which the person is aware, but it is difficult to approach the subconscious needs, the parts of the person that have been taken for granted and of which the person is unaware, and it is also difficult to build a relationship with the person. If the program is conducted while the relationship is still in its immature stage, it is difficult to express one's true feelings on the spot, and it may be difficult to get the most accurate opinions from the participants.

Inclusive design builds a space based on the premise of "relationship building," where people can participate in discussions from the upstream as a member of the team, with psychological safety assured, and where their comments are incorporated as an equal presence and opinion into the foundation of management judgment and decision-making. This approach has the aspects of ensuring equal opportunities and human rights, avoiding off-the-mark outputs that are based on the designers' intentions by including the voices of those involved from the planning stage, and finding the seeds of innovation by confirming the seeds before the needs. This is also a way to identify the seeds of innovation.

What is " Inclusive Design Based on Eastern Philosophy"?

We respect this excellent way of conceptualizing and approaching "inclusive design". However, on the other hand, we have noticed that inclusive design, which is generally regarded as "a design method that involves diverse people who have traditionally been excluded from the design process, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and foreigners, from the design process upstream," is premised on the idea of "dualism" and "categorization”.

This way of thinking based on dusalism and categorization seems to be related to the way of civilization and industry, which has accelerated since the birth of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism in the modern West, where things are categorized to make them easier to grasp and more efficient to speed up the processIn English, the expression "Design for~" is changed to "Design with~," but no matter how much involvement is made from the upstream of the process,a clear boundary between A and B and the relationship of "A design with B" seems to be remained, which insistes of no intersection with "A" and "B" in the end. Essentially, there is no need to think in dualistic terms, and it should simply be "Diverse people design. There is no need for with or for.

In the spirit of the Japanese tea ceremony, there is a concept of "Shukaku Ittai" (unity of host and guest). We at SOLIT have come to feel that the "inclusive design" that we envision is rather similar to this idea, and that we envision a world where there is no dualism or even categorization, but rather a world created by "being together" based on individual existence and the plurality of the space in which they reside.

The "inclusive design" created by the Western world is constantly being updated, but if we are uncomfortable with the dualism that exists at its root, we at SOLIT perceive the need to establish our own inclusive design for the world we aspire to. We feel that this may be tied to an Eastern philosophy approach that is embedded in our operating system as human beings, based on the values and culture we are born with and exposed to, as in the spirit of " Shukaku Ittai".

The discomfort with dualism may be due to the fact that we have lived in a world where we are familiar with the concept of "Shukaku Ittai," where the master and the guest create the place together, rather than the master and the guest, and where there is a mindset of "Knowing contentment" and no distinction can be made between the two.

At SOLIT, we believe that inclusive design based on the Eastern philosophy, which has been the traditional Japanese way of thinking, is what is needed to truly include diverse people and produce the output necessary for them to live their lives in their own way.

The importance of taking "pluralism" as a premise

As mentioned above, we believe that categorization has the role of guaranteeing speed and efficiency in advancing into something. If we try to capture diverse entities with an emphasis on individuality, it will inevitably take time, and it may be difficult to establish guidelines because we have to move forward with no clear-cut solution.

However, while understanding such a useful part of categorizing things, we believe that we should not turn a blind eye to its negative effects.

When we try to speak of many entities in dualistic terms, such as men and women, humans and nature, the disabled and the non-disabled, the young and the elderly, etc., we often misrepresent what exists in between as if it did not exist at all. In addition, sometimes this structure creates a classification of "majorities and minorities," and when trying to promote something, it is easy to create a hierarchical relationship in which the majority is inclusive of the minority. Furthermore, I believe that it is possible to create a centrism, which is the tendency to think of something or someone as the center of something or somewhere.

We must break free from this dualism and centrism and remember that all things are gradational, that no two things are the same, and that all beings are not just in one category, but are pluralistic and intersectional.

For example, even if a person is categorized as "hearing impaired," the challenges he or she faces are completely different depending on his or her sexuality. When we talk about "the challenges of people with disabilities" in general, it can be said that the subject matter is too broad and the detailed challenges of each individual are lost.

What SOLIT portrays

Based on the keywords, what is the world that SOLIT is aiming for now?

As we always say, we are aiming to realize "an all-inclusive society where no one is left behind. This is our vision, which can be found on the "ABOUT" page of our website, as follows.

An 'All-Inclusive' society is one in which diversity of values and the choice of one’s perspective are mutually recognised, and in which all forms of existence - natural, biological, human and technological - can coexist in a healthy manner. We at SOLIT aim to realise an 'All-Inclusive' state in everything necessary for life, including healthcare, welfare, construction, real estate, automobiles, furniture, household appliances and clothing. Furthermore, in order to realise such a society, we practice the "Eastern Philosophical approach to Inclusive Design". With our practices, we are trying to break away from the conventional dualistic and centrist way of thinking and seeking to create spaces and approaches that are embracing the complexity and plurality of existence.

Steps we must take to realize our vision

We also understand that we are still small and lack the strength to realize such a society. That is why we are looking for people who will stand up together with us and build the future together with those people.

As shown in the diagram below, we are determined to create a fashion service called "SOLIT!" as a leading example of a highly integrated inclusive design business, and then to create a platform and market where more companies and businesses will want to take on the challenge of similar initiatives. and to create a platform and marketplace where more companies and businesses are willing to take on similar challenges. In the background of this, we must make people understand that "it is worth doing" by conducting research studies and accumulating evidence. We hope to achieve the society we are aiming for by having people understand that there are precedents, evidence, and markets to challenge, and by collaborating with a variety of businesses in a variety of fields.


An introduction of a company that has decided to stand together and is taking up the challenge / case study

Photo of a wheelchair user working inside Kokuyo, co. ltd.


Kokuyo has made a decision to develop products using inclusive design as one of the most important challenges to be addressed by the company as a whole. As shown in this article, the method used is based on the basic premise of creating a state in which diverse people exist within the team, rather than simply conducting interviews.

In addition, in Japan, people with disabilities are generally set up as the target group for design schemes and strategies, but the task force team members all have a broad view of who should be included and make strategic decisions based on that view. This is a very good example of a team decision to discuss the basic premise of how to create a society that is inclusive of a diverse range of people, rather than simply trying to create a product that is easy for people with disabilities to use.

More examples here:

Recapturing what you know

Making decisions in accordance with the business plan and KPIs set by the company, or listed as "things a company must do" in accordance with the ordinances and conditions set by the government, sometimes leads to a situation where people stop thinking, and without considering aspects such as "why it is necessary," they just do it to meet the numbers.

Although working to achieve thier company goals is structurally unavoidable, there are many people who are doing it without even realizing the risk of ‘not thinking but just do it’. That could drag them into a structure in which issues are reproduced even if they are solved in front of them. In fact, in the long run, the issues remain unresolved. Of course, stepping forward is more important and necessary than not taking any action at all, but if we are going to take that step, we feel that it is necessary for us to join hands with other challengers to achieve the society we truly want to realize.

As I have questioned and reconsidered SOLIT's fundamental philosophy in this article, we believe that opportunities to stop and reconsider, to engage in dialogue with diverse people to enhance our resolution, and to receive questions from perspectives we had not noticed are very important for the foundation of any company or business. We have written many complicated things, but we are keenly aware that we can only move forward by repeatedly checking the feet on which we stand and treading on the soil, and we too are inspired to continue to ask questions at all times.


If you are interested in hearing more about inclusive design based on Eastern philosophy in a more in-depth conversation directly with us, or if you feel empathy for us, please contact us through SOLIT WEB.

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