Japanese designer and ping pong master Katsumi Asaba in NZ

Japanese designer Katsumi Asaba is a man of many talents.

The 78-year-old is in New Zealand as part of the Semi Permanent creative conference, showcasing a collection of his work at Auckland's Objectspace Gallery.

As well as a legendary designer, Mr Asaba is also a ping pong master. They might seem like two very separate worlds, but for Mr Asaba they're closely tied.

"Both are a game of communication, you can't play alone, and sometimes you have to do something unexpected to win."

Mr Asaba has been playing ping pong for 40 years, designing for more than 60, and is also an expert in calligraphy, which features in many of his creative pieces.

He's worked with the likes of Andy Warhol, and Woody Allen.

It's both table tennis and art that have brought Mr Asaba to New Zealand. Designer Dean Poole has created an interactive ping pong table in his honour.

"I like to think of it as part science experiment, part musical instrument. It makes sounds, so it has little sonic rewards that keep making you want to play."

The 'Asaba Table' has been three years in the making. It can hold 34 ping pong balls, which levitate out of voids. It can also throw back shots and spit the balls out at random.

Mr Asaba, who has played the sport competitively around the world and was responsible for changing ping pong tables from green to blue, is thrilled with the final piece. 

"Only Dean Poole can think of making such a table."

His exhibition at Objectspace runs until September 9.