The rules of the game

Satoru has become notorious at our shared alma mater, Cranbrook Academy of Art. Even students who did not overlap with his time there know the name, have seen the dance moves, or experienced the cheery smile nod he does. Lucky for us, we shared a year of study with Satoru in the 2D Design department.

The two of us, plus our friend Kristina Gerig (3D Alum ’11), started playing a game where we would choose tattoos for each other. The rules were the person getting the tattoo could choose the place on their body, but the other two would choose the actual symbol/text to get inked. At first we were sort of serious, but slowly it became more ridiculous. A piece of lasagna, a four-wheeler, but eventually one of us said “Satoru’s name.” Of course of all the mutual people in our lives, why would we feel compelled to say his name? Like we said, he’s a bit of an icon. And you’ll never know which one of us, or where, has S-A-T-O-R-U.

Meaghan Barry and Lilian Crum (2D Alum ’12), Unsold Studio



When Satoru came to visit me in San Francisco, I lent him a set of keys so he could explore the city. He made a new set from the ones I lent him, and when he left, he gave them to me. One of the keys was for the outside gate. It was blue and triangular. The pink key was for the front door. This one was round. Satoru walked during the day, and at night we laughed and remembered.

Satoru is a rememberer. He remembers to call me every few years to remind me that history and the people we have shared our lives with are important. I still have those keys, and every time I open my gate and front door, I remember.

Amber Hasselbring


Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

This repetitive and affirmative utterance that we’ve all heard Satoru Nihei answer reveals his constant state of psyching-up.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

The effect is essential: he is always primed to create and serve as an effective conduit for communication. Satoru is fueled by this tunnel vision and a swirling head directed by a positive energy which he brings to the collaborative endeavor of design. Yeah. Yeah. His process of thinking—a multidimensional method of observing, connecting, and knowing—relies on a interchange of ideas and feelings that aesthetically and sophisticatedly manifest itself through a level of proficiency that has kept him sharp and relevant for two decades.

And now, in a classic return to form, Satoru has in one garish and concordant orchestration, relaunched an independent presence in design, releasing a joyous creative energy into the design milieu.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Relinquishing the restrictions of reality and risking everything, Satoru has staked out a new, undetermined stage for his passion to proliferate. Joining Satoru in this endeavor are his colleagues, clients, and collaborators—all collectively clapping as Satoru swiftly moves on the stage and through the path created for him by his accomplishments and relationships. The many moments of affirmation visualizing others’ ideas that Satoru facilitates speak to his immense creativity and the sheer force of his aura. This declaration of independence is one that I am proud to support!

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Haynes Riley