by Maggie Kinser Saiki

Author Biography
Maggie Kinser Saiki spent 15 years in Japan writing about Japanese design, business and traditional rural culture and industry. She has published several books, including: YMD: Ancient Arts, Contemporary Designs; Architecture and Society: John Ciardullo Associates; and Japanese Working for a Better World. Her work has also appeared in Metropolis, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Winds, and other publications. She is a regular contributor to Graphis magazine. She is also terribly enthusiastic about thatch and thatching, and has written often on the subject.

12 Japanese Masters is the first book to present the incredible post-war development of Japan as a story of design. Writer Maggie Kinser Saiki presents the work, thoughts and profiles of a dozen acclaimed Japanese graphic, product, industrial and fashion designers born between 1915 and 1944.

As told in 12 Japanese Masters, the story of Japanese design after World War II is one of beautiful images, powerful dreams and thought-provoking dilemmas.

Four chapters, organized chronologically into ‘demi-generations’ provide in-depth profiles of these designers and the ideas and changes they brought with them.

The book concludes with a timeline, ending in 1979, of the events, award-winning designs, and innovations that shaped the design industry as we know it. With the exception of the late Yusaku Kamekura, the “Emperor of Japanese Design,” and Ikko Tanaka, whose ingenious expressions of both East and West set the standard, these designers are still influential figures who continue to shape the design world.

12 Japanese Masters by Maggie Kinser Saiki
Hardcover; 304 pages
More than 200 color illustrations
Publication date: September 2002
ISBN: 1-931241-08-2

Distributed by
Publishers Group West

Chapter I: The Father of Japanese Graphic Design

Yusaku Kamekura (1915-1997, Niigata) Uncompromising perfectionist, visionary and the profession’s first undisputed leader, he worked all his life to shape it.

Chapter II: The Pioneers and Organizers

Kazumasa Nagai (b. 1929, Osaka) Co-founder and long-time director of the Nippon Design Center, for 50 years he has expressed the wilderness within his soul and the concerns of the age.

Kiyoshi Awazu (b.1929, Tokyo). A powerful and comprehensive thinker whose work has defined decades, he is the most inclusive designer of the twelve, active in every medium.

Ikko Tanaka (1930-2002, Nara)
A founding father, he consciously referred to the classics of his culture, beautifully expressing Japan to the West and vice versa.

Mitsuo Katsui (b. 1931, Tokyo) He has led graphic designers in the discovery and exploration of higher technology since the early ’60s, always expressing the power of life.

Shigeo Fukuda (b. 1932, Tokyo) Internationally known for visual magic, he confronts our tendency to imagine, rather than see.

Chapter III: The Internationalists

Tadanori Yokoo (b. 1936, Nishiwaki) Best-known designer in Japan, also cultural critic, writer and actor, commenting on the modern human condition by juxtaposing images familiar, funny, and haunting.

Issey Miyake (b. 1938, Hiroshima) World-renowned textile innovator, he enchants an international clientele with ancient techniques from around the globe and original, state-of-the-art technologies.

Eiko Ishioka (b. 1939, Tokyo) Unfazed by all conventional limitations and internationally active as a graphic, stage, film set, and costume designer, she has broken all the rules and succeeded in every endeavor.

Chapter IV: The Pragmatists

Toshiyuki Kita (b. 1942, Osaka) Cross-cultural designer, in Italy he has manufactured furniture inspired by traditional Japanese life, and in Japan produced unconventional lacquer ware and washi lamps with ancient methods.

Koichi Sato (b. 1944, Tokyo) A graphic designer with a scientist’s mind, he visually questions and defines his nation’s and humanity’s place in the world.

Takenobu Igarashi (b. 1944, Hokkaido) Graphic, product, and land-art designer, sculptor and artist, he works both in the East and West, determined to connect with the world on more than a superficial level.