A Graphic Look Back
Ikko Tanaka - 'Future/Past/East/West of Design' Retrospective
With the death of Ikko Tanaka in January 2002, the art world lost one of its most influential members of the C.20th, and the final chapter closed on a graphic designer whose body of work spanned the private, corporate, and perhaps most famously, the retail sector.
Born in 1930 in the ancient city of Nara, south of Kyoto, Tanaka studied art at the Kyoto City School of Fine Arts before opening his design studio in Tokyo in 1963 and developing what would eventually become his trademark – the juxtaposition of Japanese heritage and the future, and the sharing of culture and design between East and West.
In a glittering career, that spanned multiple disciplines and awards, including being inducted to the New York Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame, he worked with clients as diverse as Seibu, Mazda and fashion designers Issey Miyake and Hanae Mori, created logos for the Expo '85 in Tsukuba and the World City Expo Tokyo '96, as well as curating and designing exhibitions for London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
But it’s perhaps his work with Kazuko Koike and Takashi Sugimoto as art director for the ‘brandless’ lifestyle label Muji that brought his work to millions of people worldwide. This retrospective, curated by long time friend and Muji marketing consultant Kazuko Koike utilises a vast back catalogue of documents, drawings, photographs and archival materials to present a wonderfully colourful and graphic rendering of a life in art.