Inspiration Via Japanese Design

Poster by Osawa Yudai

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Japan for the first time and it left an indelible mark on my heart. Having grown up watching Japanese cartoons, playing Japanese games and generally being fascinated by the far east, I was like a sponge while there. I wanted to absorb as much culture as I could. In a city like Tokyo, it’s not hard.

In design school they always talk about Europe. From type to layout it seems like the Swiss designed everything we use. While that’s an exaggeration, I always felt like “Where is Asia in all this?” I know that as western designers we could take a few notes on how things are done on the eastern side of the planet.

From my trip there were a few things that really stuck out to me as a designer. The way Japanese designers use Type, Color, and Sound is pretty different from how I think about it. The best way I can explain this is the difference between the train arriving sounds for the subway.

The typical “Bing-Bong” is simple and boring. I doesn’t make my day any better.

On the main Yamanote line in Tokyo the song they play is uplifting and not utilitarian. If you’re going to spend a lot of time on a train why not make it the best it can be.

I apply this to western vs eastern design. Western design can be kind of stuffy, even the really fun stuff. Eastern design feels lively and more focused on pleasing the person interacting with it. I know that’s my personal bias and lack of knowledge coming through. So in order to learn more of the differences and similarities between eastern and western design I found 5 Japanese designers that are pretty cool.

  1. Yujiro Sagami

2. Atsushi Ishiguro

3. Osawa Yudai

4. Shunsuke Satake

5. Ryosuke Fukusada

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