Hayashi-Mori (1955)

Dubbed as the “most beautiful poster in the world” by German graphic designer, HAP Grieshaber, Hayashi-Mori unmistakably makes an environmental statement. The designer of this poster, Ryuichi Yamashiro, was born in the Osaka prefecture in Japan on 10 November 1920. Yamashiro was a graphic designer, typographer and commercial artist notably known for his peculiar poster art.

Hayashi-Mori was designed for the Forest Protection Movement’s tree-planting campaign in the 50s. Shrines and forests were being destroyed in replace of new roads, factories and houses since the boom of the Japanese economy. In 1985, the poster was presented at the World Exhibition’s Japanese Pavilion which took place in Brussels.

When separating the name, we get a better look at the meaning behind the name as well as Yamashiro’s intention with the design. Hayashi (林) is used in a more secular sense and is translated to “woods” — particularly human-made. Mori (森) on the other hand, has a religious significance and in this case, means the natural “forest”. Together, it translates to “grove-forest”, and the abundance of the Japanese kanji characters reflect the appearance of one from a bird’s-eye view. This is visible whether or not the viewer understands Japanese.

Hayashi-Mori, 1955

Yamashiro’s simple way of only using “森林” laid out in such a dense manner and various sizes effectively gives us the imagery of forestry. The characters themselves also imitate the look of trees effectively and the calligraphic nature adds authenticity to its Japanese origins.

Putting the literal translations aside, together, hayashi-mori also means to be “in harmony”. This reflects back to the most prominent religion in Japan, Shintoism, having coexisting a big part of their belief. I appreciate and believe this was communicated very well with how both meanings (“human-made” and “natural”) merge into one.