Organised by Gallery 27, “HELLO! IKKO TANAKA” retrospective exhibition took place from 20th October to 9th November 2019 at Space 27 in Quarry Bay, showcasing over 100 selected posters and design works by Japanese graphic designer Ikko Tanaka (1930 – 2002). With the generous support of DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, ginza graphic gallery (ggg), and Center for Contemporary Graphic Art (CCGA), The exhibition is an associated programme of the “Japan Autumn Festival in Hong Kong – Rediscovering Japan” organised by the Consulate-General of Japan, which will last for 21 days and open to the public for free entry.
Ikko Tanaka was widely recognised as one of the most important graphic designers of Japan in the twentieth century. His distinctive design is known for his bold composition, meticulous use of colour, and superb visual communication skills. His works reinvent Japan’s traditional aesthetics through modern design language, and he was one of the first Japanese designers being active overseas and highly regarded by the international design community.
Tanaka’s design career is closely related to Japan’s post-war economic boom and the development of the department store industry. During his tenure as the creative director of the Seibu Retailing Group starting from 1975, Tanaka was instrumental in establishing Seibu’s trend-setting golden age of creativity and fashion. Being one of the founders, art director and consultant of MUJI in 1980s, which has become the favourite brand of many designers and a generation who advocate high quality and simple life. Tanaka was also a longtime collaborator with fashion designer Issey Miyake, who continues to launch seasonal collections with the theme of Tanaka’s design to this date. The influence of Tanaka in the design and living culture of Japan, Hong Kong and the world is still far-reaching after his death in 2002.
The exhibition traces Tanaka’s creative trajectory and considers his historical significance through a thematic display in four chapters: “ROOTS OF DESIGN”, “WORDS THAT SPEAK”, “ACROSS THE OCEAN” and “CULTIVATING THE MARKET”. The audience can also learn more about Tanaka’s work and life through eight video interviews with fellow creatives, working partners and clients who have collaborated with Ikko Tanaka, including Tanaka’s long-time associate/ MUJI consultant Kazuko Koike, Japanese graphic designers Kazumasa Nagai and Katsumi Asaba, ginza graphic gallery director Eishi Kitazawa and former president of Seibu Department Stores Seiichi Mizuno.
Alan Chan, the curator of the exhibition and founder of Gallery 27, said “Ikko Tanaka is not only my design mentor, I’m also deeply grateful for his support in my career that has laid the milestone for my development in Japan. From him I see a designer’s ceaseless pursuit of culture, and appreciation of details and beauty in life. He embraced his own traditions, but also hones many aspects of vision and cultural sensitivity. I hope that through this exhibition, visitors who love Japanese design and culture will have a deeper and multi-dimensional understanding of Tanaka’s contribution and influence on design and culture, and inspired the fellows in creative industry to discover the multiple qualities of our culture and everyday life.”