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IKKO TANAKA L.A. Graphic Design of Japan

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Ikko Tanaka (田中 一光, Tanaka Ikkō, January 13, 1930 – January 10, 2002) was a Japanese graphic designer.

Tanaka is widely recognized for his prolific body of interdisciplinary work, which includes graphic identity and visual matter for brands and corporations including Seibu Department Stores, Mazda, Issey Miyake, Hanae Mori, and Expo 85. He is credited with developing the foundational graphic identity for lifestyle brand Muji, emphasizing the "no brand" quality of their products through unadorned, charming line drawings paired with straightforward slogans. His use of bold, polychromatic geometries and his harnessing of the dynamic visual potential of typography are undergirded by a sensitivity towards traditional Japanese aesthetics. Though keenly sensitive to historical precedents and established conventions, Tanaka nevertheless maintained a degree of playfulness in his work, manipulating color, scale, and form to reconfigure familiar iconographies into fresh and accessible visual representations.

Tanaka is also widely recognized for his poster designs for Noh productions and other performances and exhibitions staged in Japan and beyond. He was active in realms of typography, exhibition design, and book design as well, and his publication Japan Style was released in 1980 alongside the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition of the same name. As a leading figure in postwar Japanese design, Tanaka is also credited with playing a role in the professionalization and expansion of the discipline.

Published in 1987.


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