Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kazunari Hattori - gallery talk

I listened to both gallery talks for the exhibition of Kazunari Hattori.

ginza graphic gallery(ggg)
November 4 (Thu.) to November 27 (Sat.), 2010

DNP Ginza Bldg., 7-7-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Tel: 03-3571-5206
11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Open until 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays)
Closed on Sundays and holidays, Admission free.

I cannot take pictures of the inside so this is the outside of the exhibition.

The first thing you see is plywood that resembles a backstage of a set. The set is another gallery within ginza graphic gallery, and when you enter the "staged gallery," you then see bright rooms (3 rooms) whose walls are all covered with B1 sized poster that Mr. Kazunari created. The posters aren't stuck to the wall, unlike a wallpaper, and is loosely nailed on the top. Each wall is covered with different pattern, all of them are re-mix of works he has done before. 6 out of 12 of the patterns are on sell at the gallery (limited print).

The basement floor consists of 9 years of Mr. Kazunari's work that he has done. The first thing that is there on the plywood shelf it the magazine "Ryu-kou Tsu-shin", which he art directed for 2 years. Pasted on the walls of the plywood, he had posters and small graphic works (tickets, flyers, etc) of museum exhibitions. On the floor are low tables that show other magazines he art directed such as "Gekkan Hyakka." Few logos he has designed were also printed on the the back side of a plywood wall. The only thing that was in frames were his hand written letters framed, and hung in a small room that resembles a small gallery.

A good explanation can be seen here as well (in English): "Japan Times"

Pictures of the inside and good explanation can be seen here (in Japanese)
"Who Designed This?"

1. Time: November 12 (Fri.) 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Speakers: Kiyonori Muroga (editor for Idea magazine) + Kazunari Hattori

Mr. Kiyonari Muroga is the editor for Idea magazine, a magazine that specializes in design. For this gallery talk, Mr. Kiyonari was the listener and the interviewer of Mr. Kazunari about this exhibition.

The first talk started with Mr. Kazunari explaining what his first ideas were in doing the exhibition, which he always had in mind using plywood and not wanting to use the gallery wall because he didn't want to show his works in a traditional way. He didn't want something like a ticket, to all the sudden be "gallery worthy." Ticket is a ticket, and that was why he pasted the tickets (and others) to the plywood wall directly. Talking about the exhibition also showed his way he approached designing. He felt that something that makes people be in awe is good. He wanted to make thing he designed not really "designed," maybe seems accidental (but this is not the case since he tries and do the layout over and over again to see which one works).

Mr. Kazunari: To present my work on the gallery wall at ginza graphic gallery, was something I felt was not right thing to do. Almost to the point that it would be an act of betrayal to what I have been doing as a 'designer'

(talking about 1st floor)"If there is only one poster, then people wonder 'what does this rose mean?' But if it is patterned, people see it as 'decoration.' In a way, people see it as is. It was something I can just say that it is 'just pattern.' Does design need to have something more then just design? Isn't it just good to look good?"

"I always try to remember what I thought was good back in middle school. It isn't that I 'believe' what I liked back then, but I think there is a reason why I liked it. I might have not understood or knew why, but there was something I felt."

Mr. Hattori Kazunari

2. Time: November 19 (Fri.) 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Speakers: Bunpei Yorifuji (art director) + Kazunari Hattori

Mr. Bunpei Yorifuji is an art director well known for book design and for his illustration. Mr. Kazunari chose Mr. Bunpei for the gallery talk since he did not have a time to speak to him before.

The second talk started with Mr. Bunpei explaining his works. His book design, I do not know, but his illustrations he draws are easy to understand works. He bases his illustrations off of icons and signs, something that is very communicative. Mr. Kazunari thought the way Mr. Benpei and him thought about design was different, but then thought that maybe there was something similar when he saw one of Mr. Bunpei's book design(Nagashima Yurie's photography book "SWISS"). Mr. Bunpei also felt that him and Mr. Kazunari was quite different, in fact he saw Mr. Kazunari as his polar opposite. Mr. Bunpei approaches the design that makes sense, that he can explain why he did what he did and tries to make it understandable to everyone. In the end, Mr. Kazunari felt that Mr. Bunpei saw who he was in a bit skewed vision, but they did indeed worked quite differently. Mr. Kazunori said "you made me realize how I don't have reasons and how I work by my gut feeling."

Mr. Bunpei: I never wanted to be an illustrator but I became known that I was since I debuted as one. I felt like I needed to do something that was very 'designy' in order to show that I was a designer. That's why I designed books.

"Mr. Hattori's exhibition feels like a praying place... like it is given to the 'design god.'"

"I try to design not something 'that is kinda good,' but something 'I can explain.' I make things that even my mother will understand."

"Using speech balloon sells well. Everything that is in the speech balloon is interpreted as as 'sound' to people who see them."

"When I design the cover for a book, I think about how I want people to read the text"

"I think what people think is 'individuality' is just people showing what they think."


It is hard to explain why people like Mr. Kazunari's work. Even professional writers have a hard time explaining them (as written in the two blog links). It may be because he isn't out to break the rules like an anarchist, but he does challenge the current trend. It may be because he designs like it was an accident, but that its actually something that came out from hours and hours of laying things out, pondering and wondering. It may not seem like "good design" to some people. And yet that is probably what he meant to do. It is hard to not feel good in this exhibition space, however. And that is probably because we can feel and like the design, wither we really understand or not.


Kazunari Hattori
Born in Tokyo in 1964. Graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (the present-day Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1988 with a degree in design. In that year, he joined Light Publicity Co., Ltd. Since April 2001, he has actively worked as an independent art director and graphic designer.

(Bio taken from: "")

1 comment:

Lee said...

I like this post, especially about the designer who uses his gut feeling more than reasons. I think its good to have at least two rationales behind every design decision, however at the end of the day everything we do, we simply choose to do so because of a gut feeling.