A Year in an Instant


Day 57

Instant photo for Day 57 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


I’ve started writing an ideas notebook. I title each page of the notebook with a challenge or a brief. Some of my best brief titles are: “Re-invent how we pass on our memories after we pass away”, “Find the biggest difference in our day-to-day between this world and a world where analogue technology never existed” and “Design a trade market not operated via money”.

Let me dig deeper into these brief titles so you can understand the stage I’m setting.

The first brief is fairly straight forward: address life closure, passing away, collecting memories, specially on situations where a terminated life was unexpected.

The second is more involved: If world as we know it was built on top of today’s technology from the start, what would the biggest difference be and how can you accelerate the transition from it’s current form to that new form.

The third brief is less connected to technology: Imagine a trade where money can’t be present or isn’t a suitable form of currency. This is perhaps better explained with an example: Organ donation. Organs can’t be legally traded by money, organ donations are scarce, the demand is high. Situations where an organ is exchanged for another organ are rare. How can we design a system where these moneyless trades can grow in a legal, safe and reliable way that benefits mankind as a whole.

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Day 56

Instant photo for Day 56 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


The nature, the local food, the traditions, the more untouched part of Japanese culture. I found all the things I’ve forgotten about Japan on our trip to Nikkō.

The four of us met at 9am.

Narumi smiled for the entire day, as so must have I. Misato and Shun were a couple today more than any other day.

The Lomo’Instant Wide swings on my shoulders in it’s heavy and builky style. The Fujifilm X100 is back on my right hand, strapped on my wrist, like my first ever 15 days in Japan years ago.

Me and Narumi shared an umbrella. Step through the stone walks and into the temples of Nikkō. I’m away from everything and everyone again, an escape from my retreat. As we make the drive back, I serve as a friendly shoulder for her to nap.

Our playlist includes: Bitch Better Have My Money, by Rihanna remixed by Diplo; Hills by The Weekend; Girlfriend by NSYNC; Lean On by Major Lazer; Cheerleader by Omi; Tom Ford by Jay Z; Would You Be My Girlfriend by Justin Timberlake; and many, many other up-beats.

Day 55

Instant photo for Day 55 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


He achieved many of the goals I struggle with today. Jonathon worked at Facebook as a product designer and is now in Tokyo after his girlfriend got an opportunity be part of the Google Tokyo design team. Tonight I met him, Cody, Michele, Jiran, Minami, Johnny and Madoka for drinks and food at Toribia in Shibuya.

Day 54

Instant photo for Day 54 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


I’m at Deus Ex Machina in Harajuku. Alex is going to meet me here soon. We haven't seen each other since Halloween.

Deus Ex Machina, contrary to what I expected, isn’t another coffee shop. Deus is a lifestyle brand. They sell coffee and serve amazing Californian food in the ground floor, sell their own clothing line on the second floor, have a collection of leather goods, organise movie nights, DJ nights, and also sell craft beer in the evening. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had their own music label and banking society. I understand this in one simple way: rather than focusing your business in making one specific product, focus your business catering for one specific niche customer.


We walked around Omotesandō. Met with a friend travelling around Asia, Jiran. Had lunch. And now I’m back in the café to study Japanese. The photo above was taken at the top of the Tokyu Plaza in Omotesandō.

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Day 53

Instant photo for Day 53 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


I had my job interview at Google Tokyo this afternoon. In this stage of the job application process I interview with two designers from the Tokyo office and execute a design exercise relevant to the role I’m applying for.

The Tokyo team works closely with the San Francisco office to work on Google Maps and other location products. Given how dense and complex the urban space is in Tokyo, a lot more thought and work goes into designing local products for Tokyo. The work made in Tokyo is then shared with teams globally to be localised.

After my interview I met Misato and Shun for dinner. We went to Chinese Café Eight in Aoyama. I told them the interview didn’t go well and we ordered pecking duck. I can’t taste anything but disappointment tonight but I’m not one to spoil the fun.

Day 52

Instant photo for Day 52 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


He told me he is getting married next month. He asked me if I want a Japanese girlfriend. “They are full of kindness” he added. I reply “No”. My favourite white lie. 

This is the first time I’m having a haircut since I moved to Tokyo.

Day 51

Instant photo for Day 51 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


I met Yuko for dinner at a french restaurant in Ginza. She had already finished a bottle of wine with her friend and told me about the umbrellas game in Tokyo.

In Tokyo the most common sight in a rainy day are the transparent umbrellas commonly sold at the コンビニ. These umbrellas cost around ¥500 and don’t break too easily. I have one at home and the one I brought with me tonight. The magic around these umbrellas is that they all look the same and everyone “borrows” each others umbrellas. I use the word “borrows” because someone will take your umbrella by mistake and in return you will take someone else’s. Sometimes you will be offered an umbrella from a friend, or the office will have a few spares, or you will purchase a new one to the game. The bottom line is: every umbrella will eventually belong to multiple people. And everyone is ok with how this system works.

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