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 work and to pay homage to the graphic artist’s rich archive.

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

The design inspiration comes from Ikko Tanaka’s works from the 1990s. Issey 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.

Issey Miyake

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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). 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 became one of the founding partners of the Nippo Design Center and later spent his life developing the Ikko Tanaka Design Studio where he created works which would feature around the world.

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

Some of his more famous works in the United States were the Nihon Buyo¹ tour posters Tanaka created in 1981. The Nihon Buyo tour featured a performance of traditional Japanese dance first originated in the early Edo Period (17th century) borrowing from Kabuki (a traditional stage drama). The Nihon Buyo 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 Ikko Tanaka’s most popular contribution is the globally recognized design store Muji² created together with Kazuko Koike (marketing consultant) and Takashi Sugimoto (interior designer). Tanaka is credited with articulating the Muji vision and appearance, and 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 Tanaka was recognized as one of Japan’s most respected graphic designers and his works still influence the world of fashion and design today.

The new Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake series, the fourth in their collaboration, was inspired by the dynamic space of the Otemae Art Center designed by Tadao Ando. Compared to the designer’s previous graphic art in which irregular hand-drawn shapes were widely used, this series is characterized by geometric shapes in a minimalist style and wholly focused and applied to the hot sport wear trend.

The Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake Collection SS19:

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Ikko Tanaka x Issey Miyake collection, December 2018. (photo: Issey Miyake)

Sources:
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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