Waka Waka is an LA-based furniture design studio founded by Shin Okuda in 2007. Marked by Bauhaus design influences and Japanese minimalism, his unique plywood pieces have caught the eye of many, including that of his wife, Kristin Dickson, the founder of concept store Iko Iko. In honor of our just released Waka Waka x Poketo exclusive bookends, we paid a visit to Shin’s studio to talk about how Waka Waka came to be and what keeps him inspired.
Can you tell us the origins of Waka Waka? How and when did you start building furniture?
After I moved to LA in 1998, I worked for a few sculptors. One of the artists that I worked for made many furniture pieces at that time, so I absorbed a lot at his studio while working with the various designers. On the weekends, I went in the studio and started making my own furniture pieces using the leftover scraps. By 2007 I started working solo on my own work.
I met Kristin when she first started IKO IKO in 2009, and began making furniture pieces for specific themes at the store. Soon after, I developed pieces we could show as small series at IKO IKO.
I love the name. Is there any significance to it?
One day we were listening to the radio in the car and there was a Fela Kuti song playing, “Coffin for Head of State”. Part of the chorus is “Waka Waka Waka”, which means “walk walk walk, I go many places.” We thought it seemed like a good fit for the idea of furniture.
Can you list some sources of inspiration?
Inspiration changes as you change and as your needs in life change. I look at many architecture books and specifically books on Japanese architecture theory. I think when you’re looking for an idea, often unexpected things give you great inspiration, like a fence in your neighborhood or my wife’s clothes.
Shop Waka Waka for Poketo at poketo.com