Ikko Tanaka


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(1930–2002) A leading Japanese designer of posters, books, exhibitions, and corporate identity schemes Tanaka has often been considered one of the founding fathers of graphic design in Japan. His prolific output has included the logotype and medals for the Tokyo Olympics (1964), displays for the Japanese Government Pavilion at Expo '70 in Osaka, corporate identity schemes for the Seibu department stores, Tokyo (1978), exhibition layouts for the Japan Style exhibition (1980) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and murals at the New International Airport at Narita (1992). Even late in his career he was producing a wide range of graphic material, including 38 posters for the New National Theatre in Tokyo since its opening in 1996. His work also included collaborations with many leading Japanese fashion designers including Hanae Mori, Kenzo Takada, and Issey Miyake.

After graduating from the City College of Fine Arts in Kyoto in 1950, Tanaka began his career as textile designer for a local firm, Kanebo Ltd. (1950–2). He then moved into graphic design, first for the Sankei Press (1952–7) and then the Nippon Design Centre in Tokyo (1960–3). He was founder and director of the Tanaka Design Atelier in Tokyo (1963–76) and of the Ikko Tanaka Design Studio from 1976. His career has been marked by an extensive series of art directorships for a wide variety of clients and projects ranging from environmental city planning to films and from exposition and event design to corporate histories. He has received many awards including the Mainichi Design Award (1954, 1966, and 1973), the Tokyo Art Directors Club Medal (fourteen times between 1957 and 1985) and the Purple Ribbon Award from the Emperor of Japan (1995). He has been a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale, the Tokyo Art Directors Club, and the Japan Graphic Designers Association.

From A Dictionary of Modern Design in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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