For those who want to know design, want to learn, enjoy

Survey on the actual situation of Japanese design archives

what is going on?Design archives of these people


Ikko Tanaka

Graphic designer


Interview: June 13, 2019, 10: 00-12: 00
Location: DNP Ginza Building
Interviewee: Hideyuki Kido (DNP Cultural Promotion Foundation, ggg / ddd Planning Office Manager) Kayo Mikami (Sakai Business Planning Office)
Interviewer: Keiko Kubota Yasuko Seki  Writing: Yasuko Seki



Ikko Tanaka

Graphic designer
Born in Nara City in 1930.
After graduating from Kyoto City College of Art
(now Kyoto City University of Arts) in 1950,
Worked for Kanebo spinning
1952 Worked for Sankei Shimbun
1953 Nisshinbi member
1957 Worked for Light Publicity Co., Ltd.
1960 Participated in the establishment of the Nippon Design Center
1963 Established Ikko Tanaka Design Office
From 1975 to Saison Group, Creative Director
1980-MUJI, art director
2000 Award for Cultural Merit
2002 Passed away due to acute heart failure (71)

Ikko Tanaka



In 2002, Ikko Tanaka's sudden impact had a great impact not only on graphics but also on design and industry.
Tanaka has sublimated Japanese styles, colors and textures reminiscent of the sectarian group to modern design, and has received worldwide acclaim for his dignified and elegant style. As a designer, I moved from Osaka to Tokyo to keep pace with Japan's postwar reconstruction, and at the same time became a member of Nichinomi, polished my skills at the early days of Light Publicity, Japan Design Center, and Ikko Tanaka Design Established a room. During this time, he participated in national projects such as designing medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and designing the exhibition of the first building of the Japanese Government Building at the Osaka World Exposition in 1970. I am walking in the middle of Japanese graphic design.
Entered the 70s and became the creative director of the Seibu Group when design leadership shifted from state to enterprise. He built the “Seibu / Saison culture” that drove the culture of the 1980s and 1980s, together with Seiji Tsutsumi, the president. In the early 80s, the eve of the bubble economy, “MUJI” was planned and realized as an alternative to the consumer society. “MUJI” has grown into a company that develops everything from household goods and food to housing and hotel business as a global brand. On the other hand, he worked to improve the status of designers, Japanese design culture, and designers, such as Tokyo Designers Space, Ginza Graphic Gallery, and TOTO Gallery.
Tanaka's greatness is not just his creativity. It has gathered around Tanaka so that talented people of the same age can be drawn together. Needless to say the designer, Kiyoji Tsutsumi, who established an era as a manager, Issei Miyake, clothing designer, Kazuko Koike, architect Kiyonori Kikutake and Tadao Ando, ​​photographers Ken Domon (deceased) and Kishino Shinoyama The painter Tadanori Yokoo, the textile designer Zihiro (the deceased), the designer Shiro Kuramata (the deceased) and the Urasenke Masakazu Izumi (the deceased). Here we asked Mr. Hideyuki Kido and Mr. Kayo Mikami of the DNP Foundation for the Promotion of Archives of this great designer about the current status of the Ikko Tanaka archive and the design archive.



5th Sankei Kanze Noh Poster Sankei Shimbun (1958)
8th Sankei Kanze noh poster Sankei Shimbun (1961)
Seibu Department Store Shopping Bag Seibu Department Store (1973)
MUJI Logotype Seiyu (1980)
MUJI “So cheap and cheap” poster Seiyu (1980)
Nihon Buyo UCLA Poster (1981)
Science Expo-Tsukuba '85 Logo Mark (1981)
Saison Group logo (1982)
JAPAN Poster (1986)
Ginza Graphic Gallery Logo Dai Nippon Printing (1986)
Loft logo Loft (1987)
Hiroshima Appeals poster (1988)
Issey Miyake, A Uh Exhibition Poster Issey Miyake (1990)
"Korea" poster Morisawa (1993)


Major awards

Nisshinmi Member Award (1954), Warsaw International Poster Biennale Silver Award (1968), Mainichi Design Award (1973),
New York ADC Gold Award (1986), Tokyo ADC Member Highest Award (1986), Mainichi Art Award (1988),
Japan Cultural Design Award (1991), TDC Member Gold Award, First Kamekura Award (1999), etc.
Award for New Artist Award (1980), Award of Shion (1994), Asahi Award (1997), Cultural Merit (2000), etc.


Main books

“Japanese Color” by Kazuko Koike, Libro Port (1982)
"The world of Ikko Tanaka design" Kodansha (1987)
“Around Design” Hakusuisha (1989)
"From a design work desk" Hakusuisha (1990)
“Before and after design” Hakusuisha (1995)

Ikko tanaka works work



The fun of archives is letters, photos, drawings, etc.
This is the key to know the personality and way of thinking

Current status of the Tanaka Ikko archive

 In 2016, I asked Mr. Nagashi Kitazawa about your archiving activities. This time, I would like to talk about the Ikko Tanaka archive.


Kido Dr. Ikko Tanaka was rushed in January 2002. For this reason, the staff of Ikko Tanaka's design room remained working for a while and the design room was closed when it was finished. After that, my sister took over the office, and Tanaka's works and materials were kept untouched for nearly six years, but I would like you to accept everything from the DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion. I received a consultation. We signed a contract with my sister and younger brother, and in 2008, I established the Ikko Tanaka Archive in the CCGA Contemporary Graphic Art Center (CCGA) in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture.


What was left at that time?


Kido I donated everything that had been stored on the first basement to the third floor of the building in Ikko Tanaka Design Room, and the amount was huge. The most common were collections, such as work-related books, periodicals such as magazines, and books designed by teachers. Others include letters and documents kept by the office, snapshots of private and business trips, photographs such as photocopies of works, sketches and printing instructions, and proof papers related to the design process. Of course there were also posters and other items in stock. Characteristic items included Tanaka's collection, gifts from friends and acquaintances, and tea ceremony tools.


You mentioned that it was a huge amount, but how much was it?


Kido Approximately 2,700 poster works, approximately 3,600 book design works, approximately 9,500 collections, 25,000 photographic materials, and roughly 55,000 including documents and letters. Approximate quantity is about 400 meters by extension of the bookshelf, about 370 boxes of cardboard that cannot fit in the bookshelf, and about 50 steps of posters etc. in the storage cabinet. This is a rough amount, not a number of points, so when you get the total number of points, you will be distracted.


How is it stored?


Kido Because of this amount, the CCGA space is not enough, and other warehouses are temporarily rented. As for the storage method, posters are handled in the same way as works of art and are kept in an air-conditioned storage after neutralizing a piece of neutral thin paper to prevent oxidation. Items that are prone to deterioration such as negatives and positives in the photo are placed in a dedicated box with an oxidizing gas adsorption function and stored in a dedicated space in the storage. Will be stored. In addition, book design works, collections, and documents are currently registered in the database, so they are placed in a storage room in the same environment as the office so that they can be easily put in and out.


You are also making these databases.


Kido Currently in progress. As of June 2019, 55,000 work has been completed, but I think it will eventually double at least. There was a problem that it was difficult to manage miscellaneous materials such as letters in the art management database generally used in art museums. Therefore, we use a database that we have developed in reference to the hierarchical description and registration method used by archive organizations. A part of the database has been published on the Internet since 2017.


How about digitizing poster works?


Kido 2,700 kinds of poster works have already been digitized. In consideration of future technological development, the image data uses a TIFF format with a resolution of 400dpi (equivalent to full size), a long side of about 10,000 pixels, and a color depth RGB of 16bit color. In order to achieve this accuracy, we have also developed a dedicated photographic device. At the same time, we also invited a platemaking engineer and a paper company representative at the time of each poster production to investigate and record each piece of printing information. I think this was valuable information from the viewpoint of the history of printing technology.


The other day, I went to CCGA and saw a part of the archive. I was really good at it. By the way, are there any materials that can follow the design process of your design?


Kido There were a lot of sketches and notes to convey the image to the staff, but it seems that there was no policy of organizing each one as an office. For this reason, there are many things that we cannot determine for what purpose and for which work, and this is an issue for the future.


Please let me know if there is priority for archiving.


Kido First, we are proceeding with the digitization and creation of a database of posters and other works. Some of them are available on the Internet. Registration of a database of miscellaneous materials other than works is still in progress and has not been made public on the Internet, but such private data is also available to researchers in the CCGA building. The metadata to be registered in the database will include three international standards including ISAD (G) (General Principles for Writing International Standard Records) of the International Archives Council, with information exchange and sharing with domestic and foreign organizations in mind in the future. Based on the standard, it adds elements specific to graphic design.


This is a tough job, but how many full-time staff do you have?


Kido There are three full-time members of the Foundation, including me, and two temporary employees who are working on the database. At the moment, I am full of arrangement of a huge amount of works and materials and creating a database. It's still in this state over 10 years and I can't predict when the archive will be complete. Endless.


What kind of problems do you feel during the work?


Kido I mentioned international standards earlier, but a major issue is the terminology used to classify materials and describe catalogs. These tasks require expert knowledge, but not all staff members. For example, when organizing print manuscripts, the printing technology has changed greatly from the time of Prof. Tanaka, and there are almost no personnel in charge at that time. It is difficult to do correctly. Originally, you should have a full-time staff who knows the printing site and technology, but unfortunately the situation is not so because of various restrictions. For this reason, it is necessary to take an inefficient method of making a database and correcting it whenever there is an error.


To what extent is the archive work progressing?


Kido All 2,700 types of poster works have been converted to high-definition digital images and registered in the database. Digitalization of photographs and films is also ongoing. The film deteriorated quickly, and many of the films had already faded when they were accepted, but about 25,000 were scanned. The original is stored in a dedicated storage, and usually uses digital data. The sketches will be digitized as soon as they can be organized. Tea utensils and arts are stored as they are. 9,500 collections are stored in the bookshelf.
In the Tanaka Ikko design room, documents etc. are roughly stored in envelopes for each project, and the envelope level has been registered, but the contents will be organized in the future. Most of them are faxes and documents. I think private letters such as private letters are highly documentary, but there was little or no staff or family organized. Others include office slips. I think every office is the same, but Ikko Tanaka Design Office does not systematically file and store these documents.


Still, it was supposed to have been done properly from the teacher's personality, and I heard that the apprentices were handed over to the generations.


Kido The Ikko Tanaka Design Office has a large number of staff, and I think that it was a special presence in many graphic design offices. Interestingly, there was a business diary that had been worn by successive staff since the 1960s. It will be a valuable resource and important evidence for future Ikko Tanaka research.


I think the designer's workplace is important when it comes to archives.


Kido I think so. The Tanaka Ikko archive stores some furniture in the office, but there is no space. Now, I should have left photos of the workplace and the teacher's desk.


Is there any other archive of Ikko Tanaka besides your foundation? For example, your family is in possession. To be sure, Mr. Tanaka owned a tea room in Lake Yamanaka, right?


Kido Lake Yamanaka's tea room and building are already in hand, but some of the tea utensils are accepted by the Foundation. Therefore, it can be said that the DNP Cultural Promotion Foundation has taken care of what the general public can access as the Ikko Tanaka archive.


Utilization of archive


Is it possible to lend out works and copy images?


Kido Yes, I am the point of contact, and copyright and license management is entrusted by a survivor to a separate company called DNP Art Communications. Tanaka-sensei's copyright is owned by multiple bereaved families, but DNP Art Communications serves as a contact point for outside parties.


It seems that it will take some time to complete the archive, but how can you use this archive as DNP Foundation For example, are there plans to hold exhibitions or organize them in publications?


Kido The Foundation regularly holds graphic design exhibitions, so I think there is such a chance. However, as an individual, the role of the archive is the primary research resource, so I think it is important to provide materials for academic research and to improve the environment. After that, if it develops into a publishing or exhibition, I hope to be able to cooperate in renting illustrations and works. I hope that such opportunities will increase even a little.
On the other hand, the foundation is promoting Ikko Tanaka research in its own way. In the 6th year of the DNP Cultural Promotion Foundation's academic research grant, a department called “Research on Graphic Designer Ikko Tanaka” has been established to promote research activities from the viewpoint of educators and researchers in Japan and overseas. It was. In fact, many people stay overnight at the CCGA in Fukushima to conduct research and research. The results are published and published in the DNP Cultural Promotion Foundation's annual academic research grant bulletin.


Considering the current situation in Japan where there is a sense of blockage in various ways, it is important to reconsider the age and design of Ikko Tanaka who was on the uphill.


Kido Many previous design history studies were in the range up to the pre-war period, but recently I feel that the post-war and up to the present day are included. A few years ago, an American doctoral student who wrote a paper on the theme of “Seibu Saison Culture” contacted me. That person was studying about Tsutsumi Seiji and wanted to research the Ikko Tanaka archives and went to CCGA in Fukushima and collected the materials. At that time, I was surprised to learn that “Seibu / Saison Culture” would be the subject of research.


What will it take for the archive to be used for such unique research in the future?


Kido I think it is to promote research from an academic perspective such as design history and sociology. Although we provide research grants for this purpose, there are currently many contacts from overseas researchers. In Europe and the United States, unlike Japan, humanities science that is not directly related to economic activities is very active, and many researchers are interested in Japanese design from a cultural perspective. As long as I envy.


The future of design archives


I think there are a lot of graphic designers who have a close relationship with Dai Nippon Printing.


Kido Yes, we have received various stories. I would like to respond as a social mission, but I can only say that it is difficult at the moment because even the Ikko Tanaka archive is incomplete. We are fully aware that the future of the design archive is serious, but we cannot leave it irresponsibly.


Listening to the story, the selection and selection of design archives is very important.


Kido I think so. In the vast amount of materials, I feel that what should be left and what can be discarded are mixed together. We, who are not experts, can't make that judgment, so we leave everything behind, but it may be necessary to draw a line somewhere and select it. Ichimitsu Tanaka's archive contains a mix of notes that have nothing written on them.


This survey is limited in terms of the cost, location, and human resources related to the archive, so it is clear that the policy of leaving 100 designers or 10 designers 10 The importance of doing. In other words, do you want to deepen and improve quality, or give priority to quantity in a shallow and shallow area?


Kido That's right. Although the perspectives differ, taking Dr. Tanaka as an example, the graphic design is basically a duplicate, so it is advisable to leave at least one book that the teacher worked on. Even if it is a collection, you can browse magazines if you go to the Diet Library. If it is divisible by the archive, there is a good judgment that it is sufficient to have a catalog without having to save everything.


I heard that Yusaku Kamekura's collection was recently donated by Recruit to Musashino Art University. In the case of Mr. Kamekura, works and materials are kept in the Niigata Museum of Modern Art, where I came from, but it seems difficult to accept everything, including collections, even in a public art museum.


Kido I understand that position. This is because if you don't proceed even if you keep it, it will be stored in a box. There is a responsibility on the part of the depositor, and it is difficult to keep it indefinitely. In the case of art museums, they must be organized before they can be released. Although there is a way of thinking that researchers and graduate students leave materials and organize and investigate, it is difficult in Japan due to various restrictions. In addition, public facilities change in several years, so there is a systematic problem that it is difficult to continue to tackle one theme.


For that reason, Ikko Tanaka was lucky. In addition to Tanaka-san, there is also an archive of Kazumasa Nagai and Shigeo Fukuda.


Kido Professor Nagai and Professor Fukuda are only works. Personally, I feel that the fun of the archive is the key to knowing its personality and way of thinking outside of letters, photos, drawings and sketches. For Tanaka, Nagai, and Fukuda classes, there are already work collections and exhibition catalogues, and there are many copies of graphic works such as posters, so it is rather not important to preserve materials other than works. Uka.


It is said that it is difficult to store more than this, but what do you want the depositing side to keep as a minimum?


Kido I think that researchers are interested in letters and sketches. Designers' work (works) is not limited to graphics, and is basically a reproduction, unlike paintings and sculptures. So you should look more at letters, documents and sketches. Recently, digitalization of design work is progressing, so I think that the value of analog materials will increase.


That's right. Mr. Tanaka's printed materials such as block prints and proof papers are archives of not only design but also printing technology, and are valuable in terms of the history of printing technology.


Kido Researchers will proceed with research based on hypotheses, but in order to do so, evidence documents are indispensable. For example, you can read the design process from a letter, or you can understand a human relationship from a snap of nothing. On the other hand, human relations are very important in cultural history, but it can be annoying because you and your family may not want to be known. Personally, I think it would be perfect if you would leave everything and leave it as your own will for the first decade after death.


It was a hot topic, but it would be fun if the episodes of Seibu Saison Culture and human relationships emerged from Mr. Tanaka's letter.


Kido Really. At that time, there was no sign of an official contract for MUJI logo design in the materials we were entrusted with, whether the project was proceeding with an oral agreement. I will judge whether this is the time.


At that time, I had room to experiment with colleagues' business ideas. I think that the beginning of MUJI was like that. Mr. Shinzo Higurashi, who made a copy of MUJI, said he had no memory of signing a contract.


Kido This episode feels the momentum of that era. For a designer who is chased by daily work, work such as organizing materials has a low priority. In Japan, the archiving has only recently been recognized. The art world, which has more history than design, faces the same problem. For example, not only artists but also Ichiro Haruo, Yoshiaki Higashino, and Yusuke Nakahara, who were said to be art critics, were already on the register, and recently Kunio Motoe died. I'm worried about what is going on and what is being archived and archived. What about Katsumi Katsumi in the design world?


Mr. Kido, what do you think the design archive should be?


Kido The most important thing is that public institutions such as museums and universities work on it. UCLA has an Asian culture research institute with a large library and archive. In Europe and the United States, master's and doctoral students who are studying Asian countries will create a database part-time. It seems that there is a virtuous cycle for students to study and study, and for institutions to progress simultaneously with education and archiving.


Do you have any domestic or international organizations that you are referring to in terms of management?


Kido It is true that you have come to yourself here by yourself while referring to the teachers and other institutions. So I don't know if our way is right.


But in the graphic design archive, is this going to be the Japanese standard?


Kido I am honored to hear that.


Design museum, work or design


Now, in addition to the Tanaka, Nagai, and Fukuda archives, there are many valuable posters. Do you have any plans to develop this into a museum in the future?


Kido The design museum should be in Japan, but it cannot be done by one company. Even if it is limited to graphics, it is too heavy to cover digital graphics such as posters, packages, signatures, editorials, and recent web pages. Personally, a national museum can be organized to organize the design archive, and it is safe to take over our archive. This is because the times are changing violently, and it is not possible to predict whether a company will survive in 50 or 100 years, especially in the case of a corporate foundation that bears it. In this situation, we will do everything we can, but in terms of persistence, we hope to transfer it to national and public facilities.


Well, the story is different, but the design archive is focused on individual designers such as Ikko Tanaka and Yusaku Kamekura, but design is also an anonymity. From the perspective of the world and society, most will be anonymous design, what do you think?


Kido Personally, that's true and I'm interested. I think I should record and save those parts, but it is also the most difficult area to leave.


Mikami It might be a part that only the printing company can do. As a result, just leaving the printed material becomes valuable material, and all graphic work is collected by the printing company.


Kido It's impossible to keep all the actual items, but you may want to take a photo and leave them at least. I think it would be possible if a system was built as an in-house system, but it would be very difficult to implement. Because the printing company is basically an order-receiving industry, the finished product is yours. There is no right or duty to do it.
Although it depends on how it is defined, the anonymous design that overflows in the city is a mirror of society in general. Such a design is also important when considering 100-year units, and I think it is necessary to think continuously and systematically from the perspective of archiving. In terms of art history and design history, designs with high work like Tanaka-sensei will be the mainstream, but from the perspective of cultural history and civilization history, anonymous design may be the essence. .


There are many things that are taught at school that have high workability and design.


Kido Elementary and junior high school art textbooks include poster works such as Tanaka-sensei's “Japanese Dance” and “Sankei Kanze Noh”, but they have never been posted as posters. It seems that it was a “work” for submission to competitions and exhibitions such as Nichinomi. But if you don't know this background, you think that poster was stuck on the street. A story different from the fact is walking alone.


That's interesting. In other words, Prof. Tanaka made a poster like a print with silk printing.


Kido When a poster produced as a work becomes a design, it becomes difficult to define aesthetics and philosophies as to what is design and what is the difference between art and design. Many designers are consciously blurring this boundary, and it may not be necessary to distinguish between art and design. Prof. Kamekura and Prof. Tanaka have declared that “design is different from art” and have been making efforts to improve the role of the designer, but he was also engaged in activities close to art. This trend is not only in graphic design, but also in other design areas. After all, many designers may be unconsciously seeking self-expression without a client. Conversely, the design of Bauhaus may have been close to art for the people at that time. It would have taken some time for it to be accepted as a modern design.


That's right. As a result, the spirit and vision of Bauhaus changed the industry and design in the second half of the 20th century.


Kido Design archives need both authors and anonymous ones, but anonymous is hard to enter our field of defense, so I would like to expect from researchers and curators Right.
My personal interest is the movement of overseas travelers and bloggers. The cool Japan for them might be the chaos of Akihabara, the menu of the cafe in Shibuya or the display in the city, such a banacular, or the kitsch thing may be cool Japan. Some of them have created a web gallery that introduces Tanaka's design and Cool Japan on an equal basis and are disseminating information around the world. It may be interesting to have plans and exhibitions by young overseas curators.


Tanaka-san worked on MUJI products in the early 1980s, perhaps because of his attention to the anonymous nature of “MUJI”. The last question is, is it really difficult even if you are asked by your current designers to keep your work and materials?


Kido We have already taken care of the posters, but it's still difficult to do everything. If we can do the National Design Museum, we would like to cooperate.


For example, is there no charge for deposit? In fact, storage space and labor costs are necessary, so the depositor will bear some of that. I think there are designers and families who want them.


Kido I feel that there is a need to consider that. On the other hand, if you make a fee, you will have a certain responsibility, and you can't imagine how much you can handle it. Since I am a volunteer now, I can work at this pace.


Is there anything you can do before the public design museum?


Kido As I talked about a bit earlier, it seems that an international network for sharing archive metadata is gradually being prepared. Japan is also attracting attention to archives recently, so we expect that the sharing and portalization of archives of institutions and organizations will progress.
Since 2015, the Musashino Art University has been in charge of product design, Bunka Gakuen University is in charge of fashion, and Kyoto Institute of Technology is in charge of graphic design, collecting, organizing, storing and restoring works and materials. There was a movement to examine the method, and a curator of an art museum with a design collection was also in attendance. In reality, however, the staff in charge of each museum is making a database and organizing materials in their own way, so it seems difficult to share them. Also, in Japan, the concept of archiving is new, so there are different ways of thinking of “collection” and “archive”.


I also messed up the "collection" and "archive" when I started this survey.


Kido For example, in our case, the completed poster work is a collection, and other materials are archives. The challenge now is how to organize materials other than works. Until now, there was no concept of archiving in the context of Japanese museums, so there may be some parts that you don't know how to handle them. Under such circumstances, however, the Nakanoshima Museum of Art, which is scheduled to open in 2021, seems to have an archive at the center of its activities, and the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum has a full-time archivist. I hope that design archives will spread in Japan.


Thank you for your time today.



Written by: Yoko Seki


Location of Ikko Tanaka's archive

DNP Cultural Promotion Foundation
About the archive business


what is going on?
Design archives of these people

There is also the possibility of changing subjects of survey.

The subjects (individuals) to be surveyed have been selected, including those who have already died, referring to the 2006 Asahi Shimbun publication "The Great Masters who have designed Nippon".

* Is a person who has died.




Let's talk about Shiro Kuramata

Symposium held

Shiro Kuramata (1934-1991) is a legendary designer who was active in the 1960s and 1980s.
His character and his work continue to fascinate people all over the world.
Thirty years before his death, he held a symposium to connect the design of Kuramata to the younger generation from the past to the present and the future as "Introduction to Shiro Kuramata".


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