The 7th Yusaku Kamekura Design Award Mitsuo Katsui

Award-winning work: Posters for the collection of works Visionary Space

Message from the awardee

Receiving the Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was like a dream for me. Ikko Tanaka once told me that Mr. Kamekura once remarked to him that I was “like a student.” I am unsure just what he meant by that. In the preface to the last issue (Vol. 20) of Creation, Mr. Kamekura wrote that the five years he had spent editing that magazine had been truly rewarding and happy. Staunchly keeping to the “editor’s viewpoint,” Mr. Kamekura refrained from including any of his own works in that publication. In the final issue, he looked back over the many designers he had featured in those five years, and he wrote that in retrospect it struck him how remarkably different were the current trends of their works compared to when he had first featured them. To illustrate his point, in that final issue he selected out Japanese and foreign designers and showed their new works in a section titled “Life’s Staircase.” He ended the accompanying essay in the following manner: “Through my foray in editing, I have reaffirmed the common knowledge that an artist’s fate is determined by three factors: talent, effort and luck. The artists placed in the spotlight again here all possess these assets beyond question – and so they will undoubtedly continue to take up new challenges with equal resolve in the years ahead. It is this ongoing struggle against new challenges that keeps us climbing life’s staircase higher and higher, one step at a time.” I was included among the featured artists, and one of my works adorned the cover of that final issue.
Ten years have elapsed since then, and in 2003 I published a collection of my works titled Visionary Scape. In the autumn of 2004, an exhibition spanning my entire career was held at the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama. On that occasion, a retrospective was arranged of the broad array of my works spanning 50 years, starting from the days of graphic design through the media transformation to visual design, enabling a close re-examination of the cycle from design creation to development. For that exhibit, a catalog, Visionary Zone, was compiled from a different perspective from that of Visionary Scape. It was for new works born in that context that I was recommended for the Yusaku Kamekura Design Award, and I wish to express my humblest respect and appreciation to Mr. Kamekura for his perspective on life. Clearly, this is the highest honor a designer could receive.

Mitsuo Katsui

Mitsuo Katsui

Born in Tokyo in 1931. After graduation from Tokyo University of Education, joined Ajinomoto in 1956. Went freelance in 1961. In addition to engaging in the full spectrum of graphic design, served as art director of the Japan World Exposition in Osaka (1970), International Ocean Exposition in Okinawa (1975), and International Exposition of Science and Technology in Tsukuba (1985). Also created the symbol for the International Garden and Greenery Exposition in Osaka (1990). Pioneered new forms of communicative expression enabled by new technologies. Professor Emeritus at Musashino Art University and Director of Chameleon Project. Member of Board of Directors of JAGDA and of Japan Display Association. Member of Tokyo ADC and AGI. Recipient of numerous awards, including: Tokyo ADC Members Award, Mainichi Design Award, Kodansha Publishing Cultural Award, Katzumie Masaru Award, Minister of Education Art Incentive Award, Japanese Government Medal with Purple Ribbon, N.Y. ADC Gold Prize, Gold Prize at Lahti International Poster Biennial, Gold Prize at Brno Biennial of Book Design, Grand Prix at Poster Biennial of Mexico, and Gold Prize at Warsaw International Poster Biennial.
(As of June 2005)

Book containing the design: Graphic Design in Japan 2005