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Takenobu Igarashi Graphic Design – A World of Bracing Symbolism, 1975
Ikko Tanaka writes about Japanese designer Takenobu Igarashi
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One morning, I noticed a beautiful postcard among the bulk of mails in the mailbox downstairs. It was the invitation to Takenobu Igarashi's One-Man Show. The purple pencil drawing on the brownish-gray background was so impressive and the white color of the paper as a result of dropout printing looked so clean.
While in the elevator on my way back to my room, I kept on gazing at the postcard. I recalled that one of my seniors once said to me, "A good match-box or postcard design is better than 20 poorly designed posters put together." A great talent is revealed, given an opportunity. In recent years, I have seen so many luxurious multicolor printed materials. But my memory of the immediate post-war period outweighs those showy materials.
As far as I remember, I met Igarashi at his cottage near Lake Yamanaka when I was taken there by Shigeru Uchida who designed the cottage.
I may have seen him before on other occasions - such as receptions and parties, but I do not remember talking seriously with him. Since many of his friends are architects and interior designers, I have not recognized him as a graphic designer for long.
I noticed none of his works at his cottage. I was introduced to a Japanese-American illustrator who happened to be there and made known that Takenobu Igarashi has won a Master's degree from the University of California in Los Angeles. I simply admired this fact.
However, this very postcard I held in my hand gave me a glimpse of his talent and his firm resolution as a graphic designer. The image I have had of him changed considerably.
The seven posters and several graphic arts exhibited at the Fujie Gallery impressed me much stronger than I had expected. I said to myself, "I am happy to have met a real graphic designer after quite a while!"
Illustrations have become predominant on the Japanese graphic design scene in the 70's. Planning, integrity and symbolism of graphic design have come to be belittled considerably, while egocentric expressions in an effort to minimize social enlightenment have come to be highly appreciated.
In the midst of the proliferation of amateurish illustrations which merely stress "everyday affairs," Takenobu Igarashi's recent works demonstrate a bracing simbolism which is the essence of graphic design.
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It seems that the recent graphic design, in a hasty move to communicate more intimately with people, is throwing itself into a narrower sphere. If a symbolism which can expertly draw upon various factors is to gain a wider scope of graphic design, one can find out a unique approach to a new symbolism in Takenobu Igarashi's recent works.
In this sense, the emergence of Takenobu Igarashi means the arrival of an orthodox graphic designer the recent Japanese graphic design community has been devoid of. It may be a hasty judgment to call him a young and upcoming designer in view of his age and experiences. His works show quite a high degree of completeness. His works reveal a professional integrity as exemplified by his independence in designing, composition, color scheme, lettering and typography. On top of that, his works are full of young and fresh sense.
Compared to his earlier works which were featured in the Idea Magazine in 1973, his recent works reveal a clear-cut change that has occurred within himself during the past two years. That change may have resulted from his contacts with the architects and interior designers. His keen interest in cubes, space, perspective of methodology and grids may have triggered his turn to graphics. Something rich and gentle within himself has projected an exquisite and refreshing poetry into his logical design method.
About Logo Histories’ Extra Issue
Logo Histories' Extra Issue unlocks opinion and insights lost to time, buried within the pages of rare out-of-print design books and magazines. Through this series, you'll come to understand the challenges and opportunities corporate identity designers of the past faced to help you better understand design practice of the present. For Logo Histories, click here.