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Featured Design Studio

Irobe Design Institute, NIPPON DESIGN CENTER, INC

October 2018

Yoshiaki's heartstrings were pulled whilst wondering europe as a student— describing he signage of Charles de Gaulle International Airport as "Shining white with gentle but dignified characters of Frutiger based on pale gray boards" — we totally get it too! Now Yoshiaki Irobe, Art Director of Irobe Design Institute, NIPPON DESIGN CENTER, INC, brings this love to light in his own work for public spaces like Osaka Metro and branding of National Parks of Japan.

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

I was traveling around Europe in my student year. It was very impressive how every bit graphic design was blending in with the city well and more effectively than in Japan. That emotion moved my heart and lead me to decide that I should be part of this history.

The most striking image was the signage of Charles de Gaulle International Airport. Shining white with gentle but dignified characters of Frutiger based on pale gray boards.

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?

“I Swear I Use No Art at All”

“Design as Art” Bruno Munari

“How to See” George Nelson

Although the idea that design is an extension and an application of art is still infiltrating nowadays, I think that design is something that is independent from art. I selected books which gave me the idea to think ‘what function does graphic design have?’ from different perspectives. “I Swear I Use No Art at All” is a book that illustrates design as an independent technique in a very high level. As a book of collection of works by a designer, how it presents its content as analyzing its own design from the objective perspective is outstanding. “How to See” is a masterpiece that shows how to define the world to designers who handles information as materials. Recently, the new version of this book has been published designed by Pentagram. Last but not least, I will introduce “Design as Art”. This book is more than half a century old but it is a book that is worth reading.

What do you look for in a great portfolio?

Whether their worldview or idea exists in it or not. Also, whether I could see their will to express that to others thoroughly or not.

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I think that creation that’s not driven by data like things that include contingency and intuition will attract attention.

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What do you look for in a great client?

I would be very happy to meet clients who wishes design innovation in their places, products and services that lacks good design.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

I would like to share works for public spaces like Osaka Metro and branding of National Parks of Japan. I approach daily life environments and natural environments from the perspective of design.

Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them?

Members who have high professional skills like typography, typeface design and architecture design. The team is blessed with other members who do not necessarily have professional skills but has high ability in wide range of things and others excel at supporting the team by always caring for the members. I am grateful that the teamwork is superb and every member is working very energetically.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

For the next five years, as design that does not rely on creators’ intuition such as AI, and scrap and build method by user testing advances, I think that creation that’s not driven by data like things that include contingency and intuition will attract attention. I believe that technology is something that we use but not being used by it.

What role does digital design play in your studio in 2018, and how to you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age?

I work treating digital design and physical design as things that have equal value.

While technology keeps evolving, our basic physical sensation will not change since our height and weight will not change drastically. Although graphic design exists in the world of 2d images, I believe that it will continue to exist in the actual real world. In that context, if we think in human-centered way, traditional graphic design (proportion, form, color and composition) and our sensitivity is universal therefore it is something that we all understand in somewhere deep.

Website: irobe.ndc.co.jp

Instagram: @nippondesigncenter

Twitter: @ndccojp

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