GK Industrial Design Associates

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(established 1953)

Now one of Japan's leading design consultancies, GK was founded in 1953 by four ex‐students of Iwataro Koike at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music—the company's initials deriving from ‘Gruppe Koike’. In fact Koike was himself involved in a number of early GK design commissions. Amongst the company's early products were the YD‐1 sports motorcycle designed by Shinji Iwasaki and GK (1956) and the elegant (plastic‐topped) glass soy sauce bottle for the Kikkoman Corporation (1959). The latter became a classic design which has remained in production for decades and won a G‐Mark Long Life Award in 1986. Kenji Ekuan, one of GK's founder members, played an important role in the company's success through his cultivation of industrial contacts and key roles in design organizations.

In the later 1960s the company's activities took on a more comprehensive remit, including many aspects of signage and street furniture at Expo '70 in Osaka. From the mid‐1970s GK set up a number of discrete companies to deal with a wide range of specialist services: product design and strategic planning; architecture and environmental design; graphics, from identity to software design; sport and leisure products; and technology and transportation. The company also has companies outside Japan, in the USA and Holland.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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