Graphic ‘55

Graphic ‘55Zoom

The Original Exhibit

Graphic ‘55
Graphic ‘55

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Graphic ‘55 was the first internationally recognized exhibition of Japan’s top designers at the time. The seven Japanese designers who exhibited were Yusaku Kamekura, Yoshio Hayakawa, Hiromu Hara, Kenji Ito, Takashi Kono, Ryuichi Yamashiro and Tadashi Ohashi.

American Paul Rand exhibited alongside the Japanese designers, being the preeminent designer for the global business sector at that time. Held at the Takashimaya department store in 1955, this massive exhibition helped introduce graphic design as a term and a profession worth pursuing to the general Japanese populace. Exhibitor Kamekura had traveled to the United States the previous year and there met Paul Rand, inviting him to participate in the planned exhibition. Rand gracefully accepted, and his loose, soft-focus American take on European Modernism would serve as an inspirational touchstone both for the Japanese public who attended the exhibition (much of whom were unfamiliar with his work and burgeoning profile in the American corporate world) and for his fellow exhibitors, most of whom stuck more-or-less to a visual template engineered by Rand (and his predecessor Loewy) of geometric abstraction and simplification coupled with pop typographic simplicity in their output for the remainder of the decade.

The Graphic ’55 exhibition helped the public associate iconic advertising imagery with individuals, enhancing their social recognition and allowing the designers involved to incrementally increase design fees. The exhibition included a range of design project formats, whereas earlier domestic graphic design exhibitions tended to focus on a sole format — the poster — and showed the public the range of works that designers could tackle.

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The Graphic Art of Paul Rand

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