My name is Narumi Otobe. I am a graphic designer at Pear Design. I was born in Tokyo and grew up in Tokyo. I always liked art and design, but I never studied them as a student. I went to university, as other people do, and I worked for a company after I graduated, as other people do. However I filled my spare time drawing and designing. Later on, I realised that art was the one thing in my life I really loved doing. And if I felt like that, then I should do something about it. So I flew to England and studied art and design properly.

I had a glorious three years in England. I enjoyed studying a subject that I loved body and soul. I appreciated being a student again, and especially being an art student in England where an arts education is supported and appreciated by the entire country. I hoped to stay in England to carry on designing, but I had no luck at the time and had to return to Japan.

My life back in Japan was not easy. I was told I was too old to start a new career as a designer. So I did a non-designing job to pay the bills, and kept designing in my spare time, hoping that one day I would have a chance to show my designs to the public and share my pleasure in art and design with people who liked my design style.

Looking back at those years when I was designing while working in admin during the day, I think I had several chances to concentrate on design and start a business. But, sadly I didn't notice them at the time, and missed the opportunities. Maybe I just wasn't brave enough to start my own business. Then, on 11 March 2011, a huge earthquake hit Japan. I had never ever experienced such a big quake and aftershocks before. Everyone in Japan felt the same. All of us in Japan had a tremendously difficult time both physically and mentally. Many people re-examined the meaning of their lives. It was a natural disaster and no one was to blame. It could happen again at any time. And I thought, "if I've got something I really want to do, I should do it now. Otherwise I might never be able to do it". Finally, eleven years after graduating from an art college in London, I decided to start my own design business - something I had been dreaming about for a long time.

I use my own paintings and drawings in my card designs, trying to make them something special, original and hand made. I am very fond of the British master designer, William Morris, and see him as a role model. I take care over every single brush stroke and every single line to make whole design precious. I try to follow the traditional British way of layouting and pattern making, but also I treasure the beauty of curved lines and the soft atmosphere that you see in many Japanese paintings and prints. This mixture of east and west makes my designs unique.

As well as on the internet, we sell Pear Design cards at weekend markets in Tokyo. We meet people there and talk to them to get inspirations for our design. Pear Design’s design is certainly unique, but its approachable, too. Pear Design keeps producing cultural designs out of simple life and conversations.