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The 17th Yusaku Kamekura Design Award Exhibition

Kenjiro Sano: “MR_BLACK & WHITE”

  • DATES : Tue. March 3 - Thu. April 2, 2015
  • HOURS : 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays. Admission free.

The Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was established in 1999 to honor the achievements of the late graphic designer Yusaku Kamekura (1915-1997), and to contribute to the further development of the graphic design field. Operation of the award program and selection of the winner, chosen annually, are performed by the Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA). JAGDA awards the prize to the designer whose works are judged most worthy among all entries featured in its yearbook, Graphic Design in Japan.

The 17th Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was bestowed on Kenjiro Sano for his “HOKUSAI_LINE” posters created for an exhibition at a design event.

Kenjiro Sano initially worked for Hakuhodo before establishing his own company, MR_DESIGN INC., in 2008. His areas of endeavor as a designer span a wide spectrum including: advertising, such as “ReBORN” and “TOYOTOWN” for Toyota, “Southern Alps Natural Mineral Water” and “Green Dakara-chan” for Suntory; character design, including “Nyanmage” for Edo Wonderland, “BooBo” for TBS and “LISMO!” for KDDI; art direction for a commercial film advertising media; product design; publication of picture books; etc. His charmingly approachable designs always attract much attention and fond reactions.

Mr. Sano won the 17th Yusaku Kamekura Design Award for his posters created to show at the “Hokusai Manga Inspired Exhibition” held in conjunction with Tokyo Designers Week 2014. In these posters he employs simple lines to trace the basic structural frameworks of Hokusai’s original drawings. Besides the clear and positive strength his works have always exuded, this collection of posters also have an element of delicate detail for which his “HOKUSAI_LINE” works have been highly acclaimed for the way they add a new perspective to Kenjiro Sano and his wondrous world of expression.

CREATION GALLERY G8 takes pleasure in hosting a solo exhibition to commemorate Mr. Sano’s winning of this highly coveted award.

  • “HOKUSAI_LINE” – posters created for exhibition at a design event

Other acclaimed works from Kenjiro Sano’s prolific portfolio

Kenjiro Sano

Kenjiro Sano was born in Tokyo in 1972. After graduating from Tama Art University with a degree in Graphic Design, he joined Hakuhodo. Later he established his own company, MR_DESIGN INC., and more recently MR_DESIGN_NEWYORK. Today Mr. Sano also serves as a professor at Tama Art University in the Department of Integrated Design.
His major works include: the logomark for the Tokyo International Film Festival; “Green Dakara,” “Southern Alps Natural Mineral Water” and “BOSS” for Suntory; “NEXT ONE,” “ReBORN” and “TOYOTOWN” for Toyota; “Nyanmage” for Edo Wonderland; “T Boo! S” for TBS; the commercial film “Stand By Me Doraemon”; “Toromame” for Mizkan; “Tinny & The Balloon” for NHK (educational channel); “Tsuyahime” new rice from Yamagata; “Papyrus” magazine for Gentosha; “LISMO!” for au; “Check The Bargain” for Lumine; logomark for mAAch ecute; logomark for Higashiyama Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Nagoya; etc.
His original “nico” products – earth garbage bags and “BATH ART” posters for the bathroom – are available worldwide, including at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Standard (NY), la Rinascente (Milan), Colette (Paris), Musee des arts decoratifs de Paris, Mori Art Museum, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.
Among the awards he has garnered to date are: Mainichi Design Award, New York ADC Gold Award, D&AD Yellow Pencil, One Show Design Gold Pencil, Cannes Lions Gold, Tokyo ADC Members Award, Japan Package Design Association Gold Prize, ACC Gold Prize, ACC Talent Award (Green Dakara-chan) and Jun Miura Award (Nyanmage).

Message from the Award Winner

There are many things I want to say – but I prefer to say them through design.

My favorite work of Mr. Kamekura’s is the emblem he created for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It’s simple, strong and one-of-a-kind. Seeing it made me want to do work someday that’s simple and “big-boned” like that, work that would leave Japan – leave the entire world – speechless with awe. That’s the kind of design I want to create, I thought, even if only once in my lifetime: work that’s simple, clear and bold. And at some point in time that became my guiding principle of design. Since then I have asked myself, over and over again, the true meaning of design, and what it is that design is capable of.

Last year I was presented the occasion to read a bit about Yusaku Kamekura. When I came upon a portrait photo of him, he seemed to be looking at me with a mild hint of anger, as though he were telling me my designs still had a long way to go. It was from then that I set out again on my long journey in design. Not too long ago I looked at his photo again, and this time I had the feeling he was smiling at me ever so slightly. It was shortly after that that I received the phone call telling me, out of the blue, that I had won this award in his name.

Here’s the kind of designer I want to be. A designer who never says he’s too busy to accept a new job. Who never makes excuses. Whose task before him is always connected to the world. Whose designs are both simple and profound. A designer who thinks, then moves his hand; then thinks again, and moves his hand again. A designer who never allows stray thoughts to interfere. A designer who designs by thinking: simply, profoundly, clearly. Who thinks at length, but simply. A designer whose work can sometimes be stressful, but always a delight.

The path of design still stretches out far in front of me. I’ll never give up and quit, though, because I’ve got a tortoise on my side*. And though a tortoise may walk slowly, it always gets to where it wants to go.

* Note: The first character in Yusaku Kamekura’s surname means “tortoise.”

Kenjiro Sano


Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA) Yusaku Kamekura Design Award Office

Yusaku Kamekura Design Award

The Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was established to honor the design achievements of the late Yusaku Kamekura (1915-1997), as a way of contributing to the ongoing development of the graphic design field. Made possible through a gift from the Kamekura family, the award program is operated by the Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA), where Mr. Kamekura long served in the role of its founding president. Under this program, the “Yusaku Kamekura Design Award” is presented to a Japanese graphic designer once annually and the “Yusaku Kamekura International Design Award” to an internationally active non-Japanese designer once every three years. The former award is bestowed upon the creator of the work or works deemed most outstanding among all entries for inclusion in the JAGDA yearbook, Graphic Design in Japan; the latter is awarded to what is judged to be the best work, especially in terms of universal global appeal, among entries for the International Poster Triennial in Toyama held at the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama.

Mr. Kamekura garnered wide acclaim for his design of the posters used to promote the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Never satisfied to rest on those laurels, however, he subsequently continued to create graphic works always at the forefront of artistic invention, often vying against designers far his junior. He also devoted his energies to pursuing the quintessential artistry of graphic design as founder and editor of “CREATION” magazine; and it is this commitment to graphic design – both its universal appeal and innovative vigor – that the awards established in Mr. Kamekura’s name aim to carry on. Each award comes with a prize of JPY 500,000 and a plaque designed by Taku Satoh.

Previous Award Winners
Ikko Tanaka (1999), Kazumasa Nagai (2000), Kenya Hara (2001), Kashiwa Sato (2002), Masayoshi Nakajo (2003), Kazunari Hattori (2004), Mitsuo Katsui (2005), Shin Matsunaga (2007), Taku Satoh (2008), Ryosuke Uehara (2009), Katsumi Asaba (2010), Katsuhiko Shibuya (2012), Keiko Hirano (2013), Kaoru Kasai (2014). (No works were judged worthy of the award in 2006 or 2011.)

Award Ceremony
June 26 (Fri), 2015 in Tokyo (at the site of JAGDA’s 2015 Regular General Assembly)

Publication of the Award-winning Work
Mr. Sano’s award-winning poster designs will be featured in Graphic Design in Japan 2015, scheduled for publication in June 2015 (Rikuyosha Co., Ltd. / Price: JPY 16,200)