Selection Process of the 23rd Yusaku Kamekura Design Award


Awarded Work

Interactive design for website of type directors association (cl: Tokyo Type Directors Club)


Award Winner

Ryoji Tanaka




Graphic Design in Japan 2021” (June 2021)


Award Ceremony

JAGDA General Assembly on 30 June 2021 in Tokyo


Tokyo | Tuesday 22 June – Wednesday 28 July 2021 | Creation Gallery G8

Niigata | Saturday 4 – Sunday 12 December 2021 | Gallery, The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art

Selection Process

The Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was established in 1999 to commemorate the achievements of Yusaku Kamekura (1915–1997), JAGDA’s first president, and to contribute to the ongoing development of graphic design. The award was made possible through a generous donation from Mr. Kamekura’s family. It is presented each year to the work judged most outstanding among all entries in the JAGDA Annual, regardless of category.


Preliminary nominations for the Yusaku Kamekura Design Award were made in November and December 2020 by the 28 members of the JAGDA Annual Screening Committee. Their selections were made from among the 1,804 works entered in the competition to be included in the 2021 edition of the JAGDA Annual: Graphic Design in Japan. To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, this year the committee members were divided into three teams, and each team took charge of three or four categories. A total of 91 works garnering the highest number of votes in their respective categories were designated as preliminary nominees for the award; this figure excluded 43 works by 11 previous recipients of the award (Katsumi Asaba, Kenya Hara, Kazunari Hattori, Yoshiaki Irobe, Kaoru Kasai, Atsuki Kikuchi, Ken Miki, Kazumasa Nagai, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Ryosuke Uehara and Yoshie Watanabe).

The three teams next proceeded to vote for their choices in each of the categories in their charge. During this round, all works were displayed anonymously, the committee members were required to use all their allotted votes, and they were barred from voting for their own works. This stage of the selection process resulted in a list of 31 works by 27 designers, spanning all categories.

The final award selection was conducted on December 15, 2020 by the 9 members of the Yusaku Kamekura Design Award Selection Committee in attendance. In compliance with the rule that limits one nominated work per designer, candidates having multiple works nominated were ultimately nominated for the work, or series of works on the same theme, selected by majority vote by the committee members. This reduced the number of final nominations to 27. Next, voting took place anonymously, with each member of the committee permitted to cast up to 3 votes, followed by discussion of each work’s merits. The nominations were at this point narrowed down to 4 works that had received the most votes: works by Haruka Misawa, Manabu Mizuno, Tomohiro Okazaki and Ryoji Tanaka. A final round of voting ended in an extremely close competition between the top 2 contenders (Misawa and Tanaka), and by a slim margin (5 votes to 4) the 23rd Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was bestowed on Ryoji Tanaka.

Ryoji Tanaka’s award-winning work is the website he designed for the Tokyo Type Directors Club (TDC), an incorporated NPO that undertakes a variety of activities, for both domestic and overseas interests, mainly involving visual expression of the written word. The online pages, especially those devoted to the roster of TDC members and to the organization’s award winners listed by year, are designed for simplicity and smooth access, but they are overlaid by a digital clock, spread boldly across the screen, that functions as a screensaver. The clock randomly displays the time in one of various unique fonts designed by TDC members. One judge praised the work saying that, while the mechanism of the screensaver stands out, Mr. Tanaka’s true essence is found in the detailed way he has put together the site as a whole. Another remarked that the design sense of the creator is particularly vital when designing information, and here Mr. Tanaka’s work has a profundity that goes beyond its visual appeal. Yet another judge praised the work for its futuristic impression, stating that its basic parts are pleasantly designed and even its unusual gimmick can be viewed with complete aplomb. Mr. Tanaka also won accolades for another of his website designs which, in accordance with the selection rules, was excluded from the final round of competition. This was the first time that the Yusaku Kamekura Design Award was given to a work in the Interactive Design category.

Although Haruka Misawa failed to win the award by a very slim margin – as was the case last year also – she received high marks for her design of an exhibition space consisting of countless pieces of paper on a large board, a work that probes the relationships between two objects and between objects and space. The judges expressed high hopes for further artworks of grand scale from her in the years ahead.

(Text by Yusaku Kamekura Design Award Office)

[Nominated Works]

Ryoji  Tanaka: interactive design for website of type directors association

Ryo Honma: logomark for local construction company

Kako Fujita: newspaper ads for beverage company

Haruka Misawa: works and spatial installation for solo exhibition

Tomohiro Okazaki: self-produced video

Toru Kase: record cover

Arata Kubota: logos for rugby association 

Noriaki Hayashi: university student recruitment posters

Manabu Mizuno: posters and branding for variety shop

Michihiro Ishizaki: brand book for sake brewery

Shun Ishizuka: tools for art museum

Ken Okamoto: book design for collection of essays

Sakura Kashiwazaki: book design for designer’s own graphic book

Mina Tabei: book design for collection of essays

Ko Ishikawa: cosmetic product packaging

Takeaki Shirai: broiled squid packaging

Kazuki Sumi: udon noodle packaging

Yoshio Kinoshita: newspaper ad for newspaper publisher’s promotional campaign

Yoshihiro Yagi: magazine ads for auto brand

Koji Iyama: spatial installation for exhibition of masking tape art

Hokuto Fujii: spatial installation for aquarium exhibition 

Hiroyasu Kimura: interactive design for online festival

Masaya Ishikawa: music video for TV program

Tomomi Nishikawa: image video for card game

Yoshiyuki Kanesaka: tools and works for designer’s own solo exhibition

Shogo Kishino: branding for camera shop

Shingo Noma: tools, fixtures and shop design for designer brand