The 18th Yusaku Kamekura Design Award MIKI Ken

Award-winning work: Publicity posters for solo exhibition “APPLE+” (cl: DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion)(cl: Tokyo Design Week)

Message from the awardee

I have vivid memories of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. I was in the fourth grade of elementary school at the time. On my desk I had a triangular-shaped coin bank from what was then the Tokai Bank, and on its three sides were the Olympic emblem – a red sun on a white background, representing the Japanese flag, and five gold rings – and two Olympic posters, one depicting track and field and the other about swimming. At the time I knew nothing at all about Yusaku Kamekura. It was only after I later aspired to become a designer that I came to know of him. I’ll never forget the day I first met Mr. Kamekura. It was in 1994, when I was holding a one-man show at Creation Gallery G8. In those days Mr. Kamekura had his design office on the second floor of the Recruit Building, where G8 is located, and I went to pay my respects. All this occurred just as I was eagerly awaiting the outcome of the competition to design the logo of the Tokyo International Forum. No sooner had I offered Mr. Kamekura my words of greeting than, straight off, he said, “Your logo for the Tokyo International Forum wasn’t selected in the final round of judging. Designing such things isn’t easy.” Those were the first words I received from this man I looked up to as the “grand deity of design.” “With your logo, you’re assuming you’d be working up all its applications. Logos have to stand up to anything. That’s not easy to achieve, especially in the case of logos of a public nature. They have to be strong enough not to budge regardless of who tries to develop something from them, even if they’re placed somewhat obliquely. More than anything, they have to express an idea with complete clarity. That’s what logos are all about.” Those words remain indelibly etched in my memory even today.
Quite a long time has passed since then, and I never dreamed that someday I’d be notified that I’d received the Yusaku Kamekura Design Award. I received the award for my posters publicizing my “APPLE+” exhibition, which evolved out of my “APPLE” design education program. This is a framework aimed at getting students to realize both the enjoyment and the profundity of design, through use of the everyday apple. Through a variety of unique exercises – for example, observation employing embodiment, extraction of colors lurking in the natural world, the true meaning of things found within restrictions, creative thinking involving serendipitous encounters, etc. – “APPLE” functions as a textbook that makes students become aware of and ultimately remember all of these processes. It makes me very happy to receive acclaim for design having “education,” a social issue, as its theme. In undertaking this project, the optical illusions featured in the posters were created under the supervision of Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a renowned psychologist and professor at Ritsumeikan University. I also received cooperation from many other specialists. I have continuously asked what design means, using media of every kind: posters, spatial design, interactive design, video, music, 3D modeling, books, etc. And with great seriousness students have anguished over their responses. It is thanks to the diligent efforts made by everyone that I have received this award. I wish to take this occasion to express my deep gratitude to you all.

Ken Miki

Ken Miki

Ken Miki was born in Kobe in 1955. In 1982 he established Ken Miki & Associates. Throughout his career he has undertaken “design by talking” – developing a design by a process similar to speaking – and “design by listening” – designing by probing the origins of things. Working from an underlying theme of “becoming aware of awareness,” he infuses emotional communication into serene expression. His major works to date include: the kit for the 2003 Icograda Congress in Nagoya; promotion of the ThinkPad for IBM Japan, Ltd.; logomarks for BELLE MAISON, Osaka University of Pharmaceutical Sciences, KEIKYU Department Store, etc. In recent years he has been developing his “APPLE” project about designing how to learn. A book introducing the project’s content has been published by Lars Müller Publishers of Switzerland. In 2015 Miki held the “APPLE+ Learning to Design, Designing to Learn” exhibition at ggg. Among the awards he has received to date are the JAGDA New Designer Award, Japan Typography Annual Grand Prix, Tokyo Type Directors Club Bronze Award, the International Poster Triennial in Toyama Silver Prize, and the New York Art Directors Club Bronze Award. Ken Miki currently serves as a professor at Osaka University of Arts.(as of January 2016)

Publication: Graphic Design in Japan 2016 (June 2016)