Namonai is an online fine art management platform based in Tokyo. The company helps undiscovered Japanese artists manage and sell their artwork globally through digital marketing and custom web applications.
Founder Akira Wang has a dream to change the art industry in Japan and empower budding artists through cutting edge tech. He asked me to design Namonai’s brand, webapp (website) and portfolio builder tool. After designing, I collaborated with fullstack engineer Alex King to code the webapp and portfolio builder tool (they are both included in one simple codebase), coding most of the frontend.
Namonai is a service that nurtures aspiring artists, while helping them expand globally. Because the focus is not on the brand per say, but rather the artists' creations, we opted for a clean, minimal brand in order to put the focus on the artists and their artwork. Some key words include innovative, digital, simple, calm, sophisticated, and easy. We chose a mature color palette with mostly gray-tone colors, matching mature imagery, soft transitions, modest white space, and a variant of the Hamsa (eye of God) as the logo.
All of these characteristics come together to create a brand that resonates the company’s mission: “To support aspiring artists in Japan and the rest of the world by offering them exposure through an innovative platform where they can market and sell their art.”
The current Webapp (website) has gone through three redesigns from August to October 2020 because the brand and sales team's needs have pivoted three times. The site is designed to have minimal information while also being content driven. The benefits of the service are laid out instantly on the homepage with no gimmicks or flashy sales talk. As the service continues to develop (AR tools and a Pinterest-like social media feature coming soon), the website design will continue to evolve, though the design principles will stay in-tact.
Special care was taken to optimize UX UI design for phone, tablet, and desktop sizes. Users are using their phones and tablets to upload information, then desktops to organize and export. All contents (100%!) are translated in both Japanese and English for transparency.
The portfolio builder tool is Namonai’s first tool to help artists manage and share artwork. Working with the team and artists to design its user flow and functionality was an innovative challenge.
When we surveyed our initial 16 artists, a glaringly key learning arose in the qualitative data: these artists have no streamlined way to organize their collections. Some were using Microsoft Excel to organize, while most had no organization at all, making it hard to keep track of how much they charged for their artwork, what was sold, etc. With Namonai’s mobile-first portfolio builder tool, artists can now easily take pictures of their artwork and upload information to the platform. They then organize their artwork into collections, and instantly create a portfolio collection page to be printed or shared with anyone via a simple custom link.
Namonai continues to be a fascinating project combining a true service that helps people with exciting design challenges and cutting-edge technology.