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  3. Fragments of Graphism: An Alternative History of Graphic Desgn in Japan


Fragments of Graphism: An Alternative History of Graphic Desgn in Japan

  • DATES : January 23 (Tue) – February 22 (Thu), 2018
  • HOURS : 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Closed Sundays and Holidays. Admission free.

Graphic design made great strides in Japan during the modernization period of the early 20th century and again in the postwar era of rapid economic growth. Throughout the course of prewar Modernism, postwar recovery and high-paced economic development, and then the arrival of the information age, Japan’s graphic designers firmly established “design” as a full-fledged field of creative endeavor—an area that, by dint of its outstanding quality and a unique aesthetic sense, has contributed greatly to the development of the nation’s industries and culture.

With the coming of a truly global era in the late 20th century, however, currents in design have been changing significantly across the globe. The act of designing, which used to be undertaken exclusively by specialists, has, with the advent of digital tools, become readily available to the broad masses. Furthermore, design methods and materials, which previously were obtainable only by economically “advanced” countries, today can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

Amidst these changes, in what direction will Japanese graphic design move in the years ahead? And what possibilities might this future bring? To address these questions, an awareness of history is indispensable. Throughout the 20th century, Japan’s graphic design culture developed aesthetics and methods different from the design culture of the West. Today, in the 21st century, the progress of the past serves as a rich historical source.

This exhibition will present an overview of the history of Japanese graphic design in the 20th century—together with works, people and events deemed worthy of attention—from the respective vantage points of the designers who are at the forefront of contemporary graphics. The exhibits are gleaned from IDEA (Seibundo Shinkosha), a magazine which has followed the leading trends in graphic design both in Japan and abroad for more than half a century, starting in 1953.

The gallery will also be home to a temporary library of design-related books, selected by 47 designers, spanning a broad time spectrum, including all back issues of IDEA. Visitors will be able to take these rare books directly in hand, enabling them to think about the future of design.

The exhibition represents a new attempt to expand beyond a simple retrospective of 20th century design in Japan to a critical interpretation. We hope that this alternative history of graphic design will serve as a place to consider, together, the graphic design of today—and tomorrow.

Takasuke Onishi

Born in Saitama Prefecture in 1976. After initially studying law, Onishi graduated from Tama Art University with a degree in Graphic Design. In 2009 he established direction Q. While on the one hand undertaking total direction encompassing everything from brand image design to operation, as “iruinai” he engages in cultural and arts-related support and projects focused on human’s powers of creativity. Onishi also teaches at Nagaoka Institute of Design and MeMe Design School.

Daijiro Ohara

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1978. Graduated from Musashino Art University with a concentration in design in 2003. The same year, he established Omomma. In addition to undertaking design work and video production, through exhibitions, workshops, performance, etc., he undertakes numerous projects probing new perceptions in language and the written word. Mr. Ohara is also the recipient of a 2014 Tokyo TDC Award.

Kensaku Kato

Born in Saitama Prefecture in 1975. Principal of Laboratories. Kato’s work scope includes graphic design, book design, web design, signage, etc. Major fields are art, architecture, philosophy, fashion, etc.

Jun Kawana

Born in Chiba Prefecture in 1976. After working for pri graphics inc., in 2017 Kawana established his own book design office. He undertakes numerous book designs and magazine editorial designs.

Atsuki Kikuchi

Born in Tokyo in 1974. Attended Musashino Art University, majoring in Sculpture. Kikuchi’s areas of work to date include art direction for minä perhonen (1995-2004) and Sally Scott (2002 to date), VI sign planning for Aomori Museum of Art (2006 to date) and Omiyamae Gymnasium (2014), magazine and book design, and package design for “Kamenoko Sponge.” He has also undertaken numerous works relating to art, architecture, fashion and crafts. Kikuchi also serves as principal of Book Peak, a publisher of art books.

Yui Takada

Born in Tokyo in 1980. Principal of Allright Graphics. Takada graduated from Kuwasawa Design School. He established the design office Allright Graphics in 2006, and in 2007 founded Allright Printing, a print shop specialized in letterpress printing. Takada is also an Associate Professor at Tokyo Zokei University.

Yoshihisa Tanaka

Born in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, in 1980. Graduated from Musashino Art University with a concentration in Scenography, Display and Fashion Design. Tanaka has performed VI planning for Tokyo Photographic Art Museum and other commercial galleries, and art direction of Art Book Fair, Art Fair Tokyo, Daikanyama Photo Fair, etc. He also regularly undertakes design and book design for collections of artists’ works. Tanaka is further active in the artist unit Nerhol together with sculptor Ryuta Iida.

Ryoji Tanaka

Born in Mie Prefecture in 1975. Graduated from Doshisha University (Faculty of Engineering) and the International Academy of Media Arts and Science. In 2003 Tanaka founded Semitransparent Design. He performs everything from planning and production of websites to exhibitions of works. His major exhibitions include “tFont/fTime” (YCAM), “Semitra” (Creation Gallery G8), “Boring/Bored” (ggg) and “Illuminating Graphics” (Creation Gallery G8). In 2015 Tanaka won the JAGDA New Designer Award.

Koh Chihara

Born in Tokyo in 1971. Graduated from Tama Art University’s night course in Fine Arts in 1996. While still a student, from 1995 Chihara worked at Hajime Tachibana Design. He went freelance in 1998. In 2003 he held “BICHA-BICHA Exhibition” (Gas Shop), and in 2005 he completed Robundo Typography School. From 2007 to 2017 Chihara taught part-time in the Department of Design of Tama Art University. He is currently broadly active in diverse areas relating to graphic design.

Rikako Nagashima

Born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1980. Graduated from Musashino Art University. Since 2014 Nagashima is the principal of the design company village®. Aiming to question existing perspectives and to contribute to changes leading to different values, she mediates between the subject’s thoughts and designs perceptual information. Nagashima’s works to date include: Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, directed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, on the theme of “City and Nature”; “Night Cruising,” a documentary following film production by its blind protagonist; Tohoku Youth Orchestra, comprising children from disaster-impacted prefectures; and PEACE SHADOW PROJECT, a collaboration with contemporary artist Tatsuo Miyajima questioning nuclear power.

Takeo Nakano

Born in Tokyo in 1977. Graduated from Musashino Art University. After initially working at Katsui Design Office, Nakano established Nakano Design Office Co., Ltd. He probes possibilities of graphic design within diverse areas, his main themes being informational structuring and contextual visibility. Among his awards received to date are the Japan Typography Association Grand Prix and Second Prize in the Book Design Competition. His works have been selected for inclusion at the Lahti Poster Biennial, Moscow Global Biennale of Graphic Design, etc. Nakano was invited to show his works at the International Typography Biennale “TYPOJANCHI 2011 SEOUL.”

So Hashizume

Born in Hiroshima Prefecture in 1978. Graduated from Musashino Art University, Department of Visual Communication Design, and completed the Master Course at Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. Hashizume teaches part-time at Joshibi University of Art and Design, Department of Design and Crafts (Concentration in Visual Design). While performing art direction and graphic design work in numerous areas, he also undertakes planning of exhibitions and workshops on focus points and real practice, develops educational programs, etc.

Akinobu Maeda

Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1976. Participated in the “ILLDOZER” design team. Since its disbandment, Maeda has been active as an art director and graphic designer in a broad array of fields, especially advertising, catalogs and package design. He currently serves as art director of TOO MUCH and POPEYE magazines.

The content of this exhibition will be covered in a special feature of IDEA No.382, to go on sale in June 2018.

Opening Party
January 23 (Tue), 2018 7:00 p.m.– 8:30 p.m.
Admission free. No reservations required.
All visitors are invited to attend.

Directed by
Kiyonori Muroga, Tetsuya Goto, IDEA team

Planned by
So Hashizume, Kensaku Kato, Daijiro Ohara

Organizers and Venues

Recruit Ginza8 Bldg., 1F, 8-4-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8001
TEL: 03-6835-2260