Japanese Design Study

I have been looking at Japanese graphic design a lot lately. Obviously, since I stay in Japan often, and every time I visit a few more things become a little more clear, because as everywhere our perceptions of another culture is different from the outside and will gradually change when we emerge into the everyday life. It’s good to keep in mind that with learning one realizes how ill-informed one was before.


For me as an outsider Japan was a large zen garden with geishas and temples. In the neo-futuristic megatropolis of Tokyo some sumo wrestler, Hello Kiddy and Akira, Godzilla and Gundams ate sushi, weird candy and danced to pop idols in short skirts and tripled eyelashes.
The reality: Starbucks, 7/11, Le pain.


While amazing, outstanding design can be easily be found, there is also the overbearing mass of everyday sloppy advertising. Overloaded with concept less information, sometimes literally “in my face” in case of the train advertisements:


I will try to research some more design, first on the web, then with a trip to Jimbo-cho, an area with 100’s of used bookstores, that specialize not only in literature, but also vintage posters art, fanzines, and magazines.


On the web

Designer Ian Lynam writes in his blog neojaponisme.com about Hara Kenya who said that the international stereotype of Japanese graphic design is tri-fold.

1. There is the perception of graphic white space and singular focus — poise — effete minimalism shrouded in atmospheric, hazy mists of Oriental vapor.


2. Then there is its opposite: hyper-kawaii, nearly-out-of-control-yet-somehow-still-in-control dimension of character-driven graphic design work.


3. Yet there is still a third axis: technologically-driven pixelocity — futurist aesthetics coupled with rapid adoption of the latest technologies .


some examples I collected so far:


here are some of my collection:


the classic:

the hyper-kawaii:

the techno:


history: http://ianlynam.com/lacma/

introduction to this amazing, huge archival website of Japanese graphic design: http://gurafiku.tumblr.com/

on that there are links to some famous historical designers:
Tadanori Yokoo | Shigeo Fukuda | Yusaku Kamekura | Ikko Tanaka | Kazumasa Nagai | Keiichi Tanaami
Kiyoshi Awazu | Masuteru Aoba | Koichi Sato | Keisuke Nagatomo | Katsumi Asaba | Mitsuo Katsui

and then there is the every day:

food packaging:

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