Issey Miyake x Ikko Tanaka: Modern Western Design With A Pre-Modern Japanese Aesthetic.

Issey Miyake presents his latest collaboration with Ikko Tanaka, a graphic artist famously known for his fusion of Japanese tradition and international style. The new collection is part of an ongoing series with the Ikko Tanaka estate. The project was initiated by Issey Miyake in 2016 as way to remember Tanaka’s design contribution and pay homage to the graphic artist’s rich archive.

The Fashion Plate
Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake (February 2018) inspired by graphic works by Ikko Tanaka.

Issey Miyake’s inspiration comes from Tanaka’s works from the 1990s. Miyake appropriates a series of geometric motifs which he applies liberally to clothing and accessories.

The goal is not to use the works of Ikko as a simple graphic motif but to create vibrant and energetic clothes, enhancing his work in a three-dimensional version.

Iseey Miyake
The Fashion Plate
Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake collection, December 2018. (photo: Issey Miyake)

Ikko Tanaka graduated from Kyoto City School of Arts (now Kyoto City University of Arts) in 1950. After a period at the Kanegafuchi Spinning K.K. and at the headquarters of Sankei Shimbun Co. Ltd. in Osaka, he moved to Tokyo in 1957 to become part of Light Publicity Co. Ltd.

In 1960 he co-founded the Nippo Design Center and later the Ikko Tanaka Design Studio where he would create some of his most famous works.

The Fashion Plate
Ikko Tanaka book “Life/ Work” (courtesy photo).

One of his more famous designs in the United States was the 1981 Nihon Buyo¹ tour posters. The Nihon Buyo tour featured Kabuki, a traditional Japanese dance performance first originated in the early Edo Period (17th century). Tanaka’s tour posters famously constructed a modern take on traditional Japanese graphic design which captured the attention of the art world and inspired a legion of artists and followers.

But Tanaka’s most popular contribution was the globally recognized design store Muji² created together with Kazuko Koike (marketing consultant) and Takashi Sugimoto (interior designer). Tanaka was credited with articulating the Muji vision and appearance, he provided ideas and prototypes that visualized the design strategy. He worked as Muji’s art director until 2001.

At the time of his passing in 2002 Japan recognized Tanaka as one of the world’s most respected graphic designers. His works still influence the world of fashion and design today.

For the new Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake series, the fourth in their collaboration, Issey Miyake embellishes sportwear designs with an interpretation of Tanaka’s more famous graphic artworks.

According to the press release, Miyake also took inspiration from architect Tadao Ando’s dynamic Otemae Art Center for the geometric shapes and minimalist design aesthetic. Take a look at the new collection and don’t forget to leave a comment below.

The Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake Collection SS19:

The Fashion Plate
Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake collection, December 2018. (photo: Issey Miyake)
¹ New York Times (2002): “Iko Tanaka, 71, who fused old and new with graphic design, dies”
² History of Graphic Design: National Visions in a Global Dialog, “Ikko Tanaka”

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Nichelle Cole is the founder & editor-in-chief of The Fashion Plate magazine. A respected writer, stylist and influencer, she has been published in fashion magazines around the world.

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