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Yusaku Kamekura

(1915—1997)


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(1915–97)

A key figure in the emergence of Japanese contemporary design as a significant presence on the international stage in the years following the Second World War. A graphic designer of considerable note, his professional expertise ranged across advertising, logos, packaging, and book design. Like a number of his contemporaries he was influenced strongly by German Modernism and Russian Constructivism whilst a student at the Modernist‐influenced New Academy of Architecture and Industrial Arts in Tokyo from 1935 to 1937. Following his studies he worked for the publishing firm Nippon Kobo (later entitled the International Industrial Arts Information Centre) until 1960, having become its art director in 1940. He was a founder member of the influential Japan Advertising Artists Club in Tokyo in 1951 and, although a graphic designer, in 1953 he became a member of the Japan Industrial Designers Association (established 1952), a progressive design promotional body, and designed its logo. He also designed the logo for the prestigious G‐Mark (Good Design Selection System), first awarded in 1957. Four years earlier, together with Isamu Kenmochi, Masaru Katsumie, Riki Watanabe, Sori Yanagi, and other designers of emerging influence in Japan, he had become involved in the formation in 1953 of the International Design Committee (later renamed the Good Design Committee (1959) and Japan Design Committee (1963) ). This body campaigned to develop an international design consciousness in Japan through the development of links with overseas design organizations, together with participation in key conferences and exhibitions. Important commercial clients included Nippon Kogaku (later the Nikon Corporation), for whom he designed a striking visual promotional programme, commencing in 1954. In 1960 he was a founding member of the Nippon Design Centre, which he managed until setting up his own design practice in 1962 through which he worked for a wide variety of commercial clients. In 1964, like many important Japanese designers of his generation, he was involved with the design programme of the Tokyo Olympic Games coordinated by Masaru Katsumie, designing its symbol as well as a series of pictograms and memorable posters. His striking official poster, selected against strong competition from other leading Japanese graphic designers, won a number of prizes including the Gold Medal of the Tokyo Art Directors Club in 1961, the Mainichi Design Prize in 1963, and the International Poster Biennale, Warsaw, in 1966. He was also commissioned for a series of innovative official posters for the athletic competitions in which he combined striking photographs with his Olympic identity. He also designed posters for Expo '70 in Osaka, the Winter Olympics in Sapporo in 1972, and Expo '89 in Nagoya. He was also commissioned by a number of design‐linked government‐funded bodies such as the Japan Export Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI). In 1978 he was elected President of the Japan Graphic Designers Association (JAGDA). Eleven years later he founded and edited the graphic design magazine Creation.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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