In the 2000s DK got to go to a lot of gigs since we were based at that time in Seattle. One of my favorite venues was the Baltic Room.
In the 2010s thanks to TH, an architect, DK got to rebrand that nightclub.
‘Design is making meaning’
Cool to see that they are still using our design….
T., after all, had referred us. She had been one of our first clients. A combination of: a shared aesthetic appreciation of the beauty of chance encounters, plus a common love of jazz (which is after all improvisation in space on the spot), was what led to us meeting T in the first place. ‘I’ve been looking for you,’ T had said. ‘To do the design for my new company. When I break out to do my own company, you’re my designers: I just know.’
And that’s how a thing starts, sometimes.
The Baltic Room rebrand was cool. Was fun to be a part of the process of seeing things update, and guiding the identity redesign by the usual process of ours. We just ask a lot of questions, at the start. It’s like 90% of the whole design project is happening at he start. You have to have that thrashing period so everyone can get the point where they can be honest and say what they really want to say instead of trying to please someone else at the table. Somewhere along the way there’s a harmony that you can find… I guess design is like music in that regard, too… it just comes into shape on the spot when the mood is right and the people are in the spirit of being ‘on,’ intellectually and creatively, to do the jam, together.
I want to give people a chance to think clearly and long-term, so they don’t have to redo everything later.
Thought of it for two reasons this week.
One: I’m working on a few more issues of S P A C E to round out our Autumn 2019 collection, which includes stuff from the Baltic States visit , and
Two: I always liked electronica but I kind of can’t get over this:
‘Well, you know I can’t really judge. I’ve been doing the same thing all day.’
‘I mean, if it was ten years ago, and MA and I were hanging out having our meetups on Tuesdays like we used to, all those many lovely weeks, I think… we would have turned it into something similar. Co-worky and everything. I’m sure of it, actually, now that I think about it. But we didn’t because we didn’t have that technology. Instead we talked. A lot, really. And those were memories I treasure from those days.’
‘You guys did that regularly. Every..’
‘Tuesday at ten. At Vicky T’s. I really got to know her over those chats. Something about showing up, regularly, over time. All those weeks, those doodling sessions, conversations, just letting things come up as they wanted to. Not forcing it.. .making the time for one another. Just us, that was nice. It’s actually the only thing I miss about Seattle. And JB, of course. JB, for sure.”
‘And yeah, now that I think about it… it IS weird. Co-worky office-y over dinner with laptops, phones, and wine, and food, and phones, and phones and laptops and texts…’
‘Sometimes I’m just glad I was born when I was. But then again, like I said, I did do the whole computing thing all day. So I can’t judge.’
I want to be out there, wherever ‘there’ might be. —RH
AN ACQUAINTANCE from Seattle was just passing through Phnom Penh, where I’ve been based for the last three years. It was surprising and fun to catch up. RH and I hadn’t known one another well, but had common friends in the publishing industry and a mutual respect for each other’s aesthetic sensibilities, design sense, and openness to trying new things. I remember that because you remember those kinds of things, not the piddly details but the overall impression: intelligence, behind the words. A tweet exchange and us saying, sure let’s get a coffee.
We met by the Russian Market at a place that does some nice ones, something that is surprising to so many coming to Cambodia from Europe and N. America, I think, because, what, they’re expecting things to be Third World-y, and sure, they are, but… there are also gems, here, beautiful architectures, for one, and the people actually smile at you, which has more life-giving qualities than anyone might ever imagine if they weren’t used to such things. Like us. Ex-Seattle and ex-US and ex-Japan and ex-UK… (and you see where this is going, yes?)
Anyway it was good to reconnect with someone who used to know you in a different light, altogether, on the other side of the world. He asked if DK was still doing branding and I kind of had to stifle a laugh. Doing ‘branding’ in 2017 seems ridiculous to me (my logo? That box? That’s just a free thing from a free software, something that was just lying around).
CHANGE IS THE ONLY. This is certainly new. This ultra casual approach to the way one represents himself through design, as opposed to when DK was insisting earnestly and fervently that design is super-duper important, in our 2004-2009 phase in Seattle. Some people are probably still there, insisting. But the times have moved on. I see people cutting and pasting logos all the time, where I live. It’s not even important what it looks like, anymore. It’s what it stands for. Authenticity. The very young ones know this, the ones that are younger than the tied-to-my-phone thirtysomethings because they can actually stop and look at you and talk to you and listen, they are good at this focusing thing, in a way that… I also really enjoy. I do. I was… jaded, I think. I had checked out, when I got into this box. I didn’t think anyone in the world was left to care about asking the philosophical, metaphysical, existential, transcendental kinds of questions and go into the play and do the jam with me. It seemed a bit too full-on, I think. I just withdrew. Got that from my dad, I fully admit it. We just don’t deal with things. We hide.
Underground and footloose in Asia, there wasn’t a whole lot to do then but write and so that’s what I’ve been doing, except also, I always get into the discussions that make people go, ‘Wait a minute. No one’s ever asked me that before. This is really helping me, this is helping me reflect.’ Someone in Palo Alto asked me to come over and do an experiential workshop on reflection, and I did. It was fascinating. Never had I thought that this sort of vein of conversation was anything less than ‘normal.’ But it isn’t. At all. The immediate question-asking is uncomfortable, of course it is, and it is totally not normal. To make people ask big questions about their ‘why’ and their purpose? Not simple. A woman in Sweden asked me in a sauna, ‘Why do you want to get people to open up?’ I told her that’s where the magic is. Waking Life calls it the ‘holy moment.’ Infinitude of other, infinitude in self.
In a less abstract way, I tried to share. The way I liked the feeling of learning with the others, through more and better dialogues, then how I learned by doing different things (lighting, music, space, furniture, food, drinks, prompts, magazines, folded things, light things, totems, comment cards, cut and paste, heart-shaped post-its, serious-colored post-its, workbooks, zines you could fill in the blanks on, et cetera) some of which worked poorly and others that made the magic happen, and that was how it went. Not teach-y, just learn-y. Together, we asked questions of one another, wrote together. That’s how I developed a new set of questions, sequenced them, made them into 20-minute modules and put them into a workbook. I showed this book to a few people. Some of them later went through the questions. Got feedback, tried it, revised it, redid it, rewrote, and reconnected. At least a little. Now here I am, making this page. I guess this means something. Sharing. How uncool right? But. Yes.
I hadn’t even realized that this was always the case, because I had underestimated the whole giant thing that goes into making a design in the first place: conversation. Good conversation. I don’t just mean rapport. I mean building towards something: progression, richness and complexity, play and freshness and surprise. (Ask me about my checklist, with the 7-point outline.)
All that stuff.
If it’s not artful, if it’s not a space that’s held well, then the art of it isn’t going to happen and if there’s no art, there’s no beauty in the design that will fall forth. Seriously. No art, no beauty. No conversation, no beautiful concept. This is how it is. And why would I ever get involved in something if there wasn’t a chance to pursue beauty? All this. Thinking. Since Seattle. Didn’t know, until someone shows up from there, an anachronism in my new life, pulling questions from the sky in vocabularies I haven’t heard for some time, abstract queries, learning and asking. I appreciate this kind of stepping out towards the unknown, in that open space that makes us all vulnerable. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced this, as I’ve been hiding behind my blog here.
In this box.
A disembodied white cube, as DM had put it. Ah, yes.
In the box is safe. My mother would like that. Don’t take any unnecessary risks. That guy, that one guy, who said that thing I put in the eZine, about laying low… This:
Out of the box? That is tougher. But… I’d missed it. I found out, there and then. Maybe it’s time to come out a bit, yes? Then I went to London. Made ’16N’ happen, somehow, there. NOTEWORTHINESS, we talked about that. Met some fascinating people from my internet encounterings. They didn’t know me from this white box, but wow, it sure did get cool. We had the jam, the jam that I love. In real life. Playing, together. This is what we used to do at DK with ou clients, wasn’t it? The branding thing was just an excuse.
Yeah, so yeah. It’s true. I used to think logos and identities were really, really important, and I think they were, kind of, insomuch as they helped us all make an excuse to talk to each other about what it was that really mattered to us. Branding? Of course big questions come up. Who are you, really, what do you want to say to the world, and how will your work offer that expression? Now, let’s pack that up into some kind of a nice design. Yes. There. Right? But wow. We sure did get philosophical there, didn’t we, and that was sure fun.
‘I want to be out there,’ R had said. I think he was wondering to himself as much as me, this question about where to go next to make an impact. ‘Wherever “there” might be.’ That was the start of the ‘big game,’ as the chess gamers say, where it started really getting interesting. Out of the box. Out of the zone, the familiar bounds. I nodded. I was quiet. I have learned in my three plus years in Asia, both on the road and here in Cambodia, to listen more than to speak. Things get said in the silences, more than you will ever realize, unless you’re awake to it, learning to let go of the thing you want to communicate next. I think. I believe. I feel. But it’s not about me, is it? I’m just here, reflecting. ‘Tell me more.’ ‘Okay. Well, I think… there have to be more people thinking this, right? That there’s more out there? Wherever there might be?’ ‘I think so. More people are exploring ways to do this, I think, given the obvious limitations that staying in silos will naturally create. Even in glittering Seattle.’
‘Kay, I don’t want to diss Seattle.
I love it.
Sometimes I let myself think back on the mountains.
BOX DESIGN. There is a feeling, as R had pointed out, that going way, way outside the boxes just isn’t comfortable for most in that part of the world, where we both used to live. I started reflecting and it made me think about the journeys for me, since leaving Seattle (hard) and taking to the road (less hard, but more struggle-y). The thing is, there was a massive tradeoff, I thought, but it was a perceived tradeoff. I thought I was giving something up by quitting the office, the apartment in Capitol Hill, the network that was budding, the beginning of something that felt like a being-known kind of a feeling, and so many other intangibles that one might tie up with the word ‘community.’ But what I gained was far, far more important than these things. Because only once I took the time to do the big work of really looking within could I see very clearly what was important for me wasn’t a house and stuff and status and gigs, but possibility. New people. New learning. That was why I needed the road, and the journey. Me, personally. Found this out through asking myself questions. Questions I now have ready to share with you, if you are curious, through the thing at the end of this page. THE MIRROR. More in a second. Certainly a move away from one’s roots or adopted home is not what everyone wants, or needs. But knowing what it is that moves you, that is huge work. I personally had that transition, you know, going from a murky gut-feel that Seattle wasn’t ‘it’ anymore to this place, a whole ‘nother life, a different kind of community, a strong sense of what it is I make here, why, and how I’m of value to the people I am connecting with now. Reflection. That work. Tested some things. With the California program, a while ago, in 2014, and online since.
In the early days when I talked about THE MIRROR I guess I felt people were looking for what I was looking for. The new input, the original thinking at the margins and beyond. I guess I felt like everyone had wanderlust and the poet-philosopher heart, but no. No, no. And that’s cool. That’s totally fine. I don’t even get along with those people who profess to be academically philosopher types. They kinda… well. No name-calling. I’m just going to keep going. Writing to you. Being really honest. The divergent thinking that we knew already was so important to the design process had to be something I actually lived, with my life. Like, actually go out of my box. Because of Seattle’s… bubble, yeah. I’ll be honest. And more than that. I just felt like there wasn’t enough of a jam session to enjoy the conversations that might pop into place, not enough of a mix in the way one might approach her life. Too much same-y. Where were the others? I wanted more.
We were there and engaged and talking and learning, together, and sometimes it was really good. The great conversation sessions, though, I remember were tied up with some sort of program, which meant that there was a very self-selecting group, and by nature, these groups were sort of insular. I mean, I don’t want to criticize. But they were one-dimensional, you know? People sort of looked the same, even, in a certain kind of group. Newcomers talked about the Freeze, just google Seattle freeze, and how it’s there and there is this thing where, someone from the East Coast said, ‘People in Seattle only play with one friend at a time. They don’t like to mix you up.’ I didn’t believe this person, not really, because I wasn’t like that, and people joined me at things where I could design and host the sorts of parties, meetups, networking things like Designers Korner and Flourish and other live events that brought very different kinds of people together, if only briefly and just once.
Why? The answer to why is simple. For my own personal curiosity. For learning. For sharing, together. I wasn’t quite ready in the early days to just pack up and leave Seattle, I still loved it very much. The fresh air, the water. The mountains, of course. Dan Savage wrote about them in a column, I remember reading, where he just kept repeating it. ‘The mountains are beautiful.’ And they are. But there is more out there, than just those mountains. Not many years ago, I saw them, in Nagarkot, from a whole other point of view, at moonrise. *poignant pause*. But the going only got started when I saw that what mattered to me was to keep on learning. Because I didn’t want to stagnate or get complacent. From lack of input. Lack of original thought. Lack of serendipitous encounters with new and different, a tendency towards ‘safety,’ whatever that means. Misoneism. Fear.
AND THIS. To the sensitive aesthete, there’s something else that’s going to happen. The things that are made are just not that innovative. They’re actually kind of boring. BORING is… well, it’s less-than, isn’t it? Less than our best? Going out of the box starts with pushing past that coefficient of static friction, starting, in other words, and though kinetic frictions will remain (doubts, fears, practicalities and the constant worrying about how to make things work), the important thing is that you are in motion. Momentum. Why we get along with architects, software developers, jazz musicians, theater performers, and the kinds of designers who love process as much as we do is the same. We care. About the journey. From here to ‘there,’ wherever ‘there’ might be. This is the work we call N+1.
A brief history of N+1 shifting
SEATTLE. DESIGN KOMPANY STARTED IN SEATTLE in 2004. At first, we weren’t sure what we were going to make, or for who, but we knew it was a pretty important time to ‘just try this.’ Unlike many in our industry, we found out later through the process and learning and making things up as we went, we were much more interested in the creative process—and discovering the concepts for particular designs came through inviting our clients to be part of that, with us. It was way less about ‘making something pretty.’ The one time we got a call from a prospect that asked us to ‘just make it sexy,’ I said it wasn’t a fit and thanks and it was a wake-up. I knew my time was going to end, soon. That we were different.
Upon reflection, I see now we were interested not in the outcome, which we knew had to be quality and would, eventually, but that this wasn’t the objective of taking on a new engagement. What was important was something else altogether. The journey. The most fun projects, and those that yielded the most unexpected, fresh designs were those in which our clients played with us in ‘the box,’ letting us closer and closer, so that we could, together, discover the ‘a-ha’ which all beautiful creative processes love to meander their way towards. Divergent ideas are all welcome, until that moment. When you have that moment, you have the ‘it’ that you need to build everything to come upon. The ‘it’ that isn’t just a thing, or a concept even, but the product of lots of exploring, together and openly, ready to accept whatever might fall to hand or ear or eye, and let it move you in a different direction. That is the whole thing: design exists to sketch a framework for this, just this, this journey.
Landing softly in Phnom Penh
PHNOM PENH. Our insistence on process over outcomes hasn’t changed. We are still making our way around to new adventures, making bits up as we go, playing with spaces and inviting others to join in them and explore the edges of their comfort zones with us. A long season of work in brand identity design for mostly the kinds of business owners who were, like us, interested in discovery through the time and work of really looking inward, got us to the portfolio that we had on this website for a long time. I don’t have that here now because it just isn’t what we do. You see a picture of something and you think, ‘I want that.’ But that’s… just not possible to show here, anymore. What we do for each of our clients is completely, one-thousand percent different. It’s not even like a bespoke tailor, or a museum, or a cafe, because in those instances you know you’re getting a suit, arts that you might like, or a gourmet pour. No. Here, it’s different. What we do at DK with others also collaborating with us, as clients or acquaintances or co-creators or even just friends, is what I like to call ‘N+1’ work. Making spaces for others to engage in the process. The process being that journey. The one from here to the next thing, wherever it is, whatever it might be.
ENTER THE AGE of the conversation, here at our studio, and the new work to come. Don’t judge us by our past stuff on the internet. We were just kids, 20 years of trying stuff and making it up, emerging with homemade methods that started to work (and later we found out has been articulated by academics in a strange but intriguing form that they have named ‘design thinking’ but which we know is really just ‘design,’ heh), seeing how to flop and maybe nudge to better. All in the spirit of upping the ante, raising the bar, and doing the big work of N+1, together.
NINE OUT OF TEN TIMES when I write here I am wondering, ‘Is anyone still there? Does anyone read this blog,’ as in, ‘Is it being received?’ And if so, what are your responses?’
I wish I could hear you.
This feeling is what inspired a shift here at DK two years ago from writing this blog to moving towards the subscription eZine, S. P. A. C. E.
Which is a conversation, because it’s two-way.
Ignore everything to date: NOW is yesterday’s future
Everything is perfect, but there is a lot of room for improvement. —Shunryu Suzuki-roshi (1905 – 1971)
I AM IN SEARCH of a contemporary style of making events, and creating high-quality ‘rooms’ for dialogue. So much happens in the interstices, I know, this is getting esoteric. Sorry. But it’s also really fun to get together with people and get out of our boxes. I mean, the usual ones, where we have to get something seemingly known, seemingly important ‘out’ of something. Or someone. The day of the transactional relationship, however, is over.
What people want now is high-quality experiences.
Not stupid stuff. Not dumb stuff. Not lame stuff, not boring stuff.
No one wants to waste their attention, or their time.
So where do you turn?
Before I tell you my personal fix for this problem, I’ll need to rewind a little and share some of what I’ve noticed from the past.
DID YOU NOTICE HOW the Western cultures love to reward the so-called ‘expert,’ the person who goes to the panel discussions and gets to sit at the front of the room, in a slightly elevated seat. It’s happening here in Asia, too.
You see all these tables set up in a way that lets you know just who is the person to pay attention to, and then you get these total narcissists up there spewing who cares what because they’re not listening to us in the audience. So then you know what happens? These events are TOTALLY BORING. And the reason I know this is because I’ve been one of those people on a stage, wondering, ‘When is lunch??’ I’ve loved the idea of being asked, previously, but now, I always say, ‘No.’ Because I prefer a conversation.
Inclusive. Relaxed, engaging, fun. Direct, honest, open, and SHORT. This artist statement I wrote ahead of a show at Form/Space Atelier in Seattle said: ‘I want people to relax. To feel air, space, and comfort.’ That sentiment still holds, 110%.
But I’m not making art shows now.
I’m making salons, experiences, conversation-led space for mixing it up. In short, the kinds of engagements I would want to be at, personally. ‘Scratch your own itch,’ isn’t that what they say in the tech entrepreneurship community?
Give me something smart, elegant, but easy to take part in. Give me something that’s intimate, but not too intimate, because it ends pretty quickly and we all get to go home. Give me intellectual stimulation, great dialogue, honest people, and a good set of activities that will make me glad I was there. Teach me something but don’t pander. Don’t act like a big shot. Give me space, to do this how I want to do this, to be who I am. Don’t tell me what to do or who to be, but if you invite me, and you seem real, I’ll be there. Only. If. —Design Kompany
Paving the road to ‘N+1’
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
― Anaïs Nin
SO THE NEW STUFF HERE eventwise is all a bunch of stuff at a very small scale of engagement. So we can see each other. We can be there, really be there, and make it up together, on the spot. There are always going to be prompts because that’s just the nature of who I am, and what I do. I wish at my TEDx talk I had done this.
I wish I had said, in the middle of it, ‘OK, now I’ve talked a lot. Let’s spend five minutes just quietly talking to the person next to you about what you’ve heard, and seeing what you discover.’ Imagine! Yet this is how it works, in true dialogue.
And if it’s just me talking ‘up there,’ without any response, it’s not dialogue. And it’s not fun. For anyone.
Enter the age of the conversation, here at our studio, and the new work to come. Don’t judge us by our past stuff on the internet. We were just kids, 20 years of trying stuff and making it up, emerging with homemade methods that started to work (and later we found out has been articulated by academics in a strange but intriguing form that they have named ‘design thinking’ but which we know is really just ‘design,’ heh), seeing how to flop and maybe nudge to better. All in the spirit of upping the ante, raising the bar, and doing the big work of N+1, together.
What’s ‘N+1?’ Gonna get better at articulating this in about a year, but for now, here is the working definition:
N+1: Make room for all of us to challenge ourselves, to grow out of our silos, to become better as people and human beings and friends, parents, givers, be-ers, community leaders, and wholly excited by doing the work we choose. To be the people we always loved most. To open the doors, to extend our limbs, to breathe with relish, and to jump. —Design Kompany
Meet me in S. P. A. C. E.?
HERE IS OUR new eZine, S. P. A. C. E. It’s a weekly, with the best-of highlights of everything we’ve learned from working on all sorts of projects for smart, open, and highly creative people around the world since 1995.
It’s snippets of great texts, tips on how to be better at creative thinking, some gleanings from our Phnom Penh work in innovation consulting, and of course, lots and lots and lots about design.
The kind that we always knew was really Design. Which isn’t pixels, or Photoshop, or a logo. It’s actually, when done well, a conversation, beautifully expressed. Which is what makes this sort of design a form of art. —DK
Editor’s note: This post was one of the most popular from our blog 2006-2013, which is no longer in our archives. It’s written by DK co-founder Akira Morita.
I WAS JUST WATCHING an interview footage of Seijun Suzuki, a Japanese film director known for his penchant for wild cinematography, seemingly random, comic, plot-aside and kitschy, colorful sets (seen in titles such as “Tokyo Drifter” and “Branded to Kill”).
Conversations about graphic design
In the interview, Suzuki talks about his good fortune of starting out in the shadows of the giants — Mizoguchi, Ozu, and Kurosawa — with a healthy dose of “we are going to top them, some day!” kind of chutzpah.
I was reminded of a person with similar spirit, someone we met this year that really helped us coming into our own as graphic designers.
His name is Kiyoshi Inoue.
He is a self-taught businessman and a talented designer of corporate identities, whose work featured prominently in American Corporate Identity by Art Direction Book Company, among familiar logos such as Citicorp, DHL, Westin Hotels and Domino’s Pizza. Now retired, Kiyoshi lives with his wife Masako in Los Angeles.
How we met Kiyoshi Inoue
WE MET THE COUPLE through their daughter, who is a friend of us here in Seattle, and when we had an opportunity to travel to LA last October, we made sure to pay a visit for some inspirational stories.
And inspiration we got.
This is what we learned.
Kiyoshi and Masako came to America as young professionals in the 1960s. Masako to learn art, and Kiyoshi to learn advertising at Art Center College of Design “so he could start a school back in Japan.” Talk about visionary!
But Kiyoshi ended up getting a job here, and stayed on to do what he’d come to love: creating corporate identities.
He set up his own shop in 1982 with Masako, who had established herself as a interior designer, and as a team they would brand supermarkets and department stores. In his hay day, clients from Japan, America, Italy and beyond sought him out for his expertise and design skills.
He tells us of those times, laughing: “sometimes, when I get tired of those board meetings where they start to tell me what they think should change, ‘move this line over here’ and whatnot, I’d just get mad and walk out, and someone would run after me, begging me to stay and work with them.”
He understood the big picture: that the brand identity should be about who you are, and how you are different from others.
In his brochure for prospective clients, he states, “a good symbol is not only visually appealing, it makes a statement.”
At the time in the early 80s, Jack Trout and Al Ries’ Positioning (a modern classic on marketing) had just come out, and this fundamental idea of marketing for a pre-selected “audience” was pretty new and novel.
Also novel at the time, which Kiyoshi did not take to too much, was the idea of using computers for design. Apple would come out with the first Macintosh computers in 1984, and this changed the face of the industry for good. In short ten years that followed, Macs and Adobe’s suite of software became the standard de facto of graphic designers everywhere.
Kiyoshi was an old-school designer with rulers, pen and paper—all his drawings are painstakingly rendered by hand, including the custom typefaces he’d design for his clients—and as such, a project would sometimes take a year to complete.
He decided, rather than try and compete in the increasingly rapid-paced, crowded field of desk-top-publishing, to close his shop and enjoy his retirement.
‘A good symbol makes a statement’
WHEN WE MET UP in October, we couldn’t resist showing him our work and telling him what we were trying to do. We were anxious to hear what they thought, and very excited for the opportunity, but it was one of the most nerve-racking experience we had to date, too.
Here they were, a seasoned, celebrated masters of design, and we were showing them our work as if it was worth something! But Masako and Kiyoshi couldn’t be more encouraging.
“You guys are doing what we were doing years ago, and already you are doing great work!” Masako mused. Kiyoshi raved about our “attention to the details, the deep thinking behind each idea expressed.”
It was a milestone for Design Kompany, a turn whereupon we no longer needed justification or qualification for ourselves as designers.
As a Japanese immigrant, I also can’t help but to feel certain affinity, even kinship, and the notion that we are carrying some kind of torch being passed down generations of side-stepping, enterprising renegades.
It’s a very un-Japanese tradition, at least in a stereotypical way, but I now know that there’s lineage among my people! –Bicycle
Comments from original post…
Wow what an amazing story, it made me feel so good to read it and is so amazing that you had the opportunity to meet this man, that you think so highly of. I think it is always so amazing to know ones culture and heritage, where you come from I think that is something that is really very important in life.
Wow what an amazing story, it made me feel so good to read it and is so amazing that you had the opportunity to meet this man, that you think so highly of. I think it is always so amazing to know ones culture and heritage, where you come from I think that is something that is really very important in life.
I really liked the article. To teach yourself is really impressive,especially when you become great at what you do and everybody wants you to work with them. Great story.
HERE’S THE NEW logo and color scheme for Japanese restaurant Miyabi.
Most of the people who hire Design Kompany work in professional services. So it’s always a treat when someone comes along who just likes our process, and wants to try it out. Miyabi came to us because they really wanted to establish themselves as a family-friendly Japanese restaurant. (Most of their customers were people visiting the just-next-door Toys R Us.) It was important to nail the brand message first: “Fun, delicious, and quirky.”
Handy, too, that AM is a native speaker of Japanese. (I’m medium. I’ve passed for Japanese once or twice in telephone calls. Always a hoot.)
Here’s the original post.
A Japanese restaurant asks DK for a logo, menu, and business card design.
Creating a Japanese restaurant’s brand identity
A JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN the TUKWILA, WA area asked us to design a new brand identity when they realized they wanted a change. They’d been in business for a while, but wanted a new image.
Still, Miyabi wasn’t 100% sure what story it wanted to tell through the rebrand and design for the new look.
In addition to a menu, we also created a series of ads to run in local hotel directories, and Japanese-language telephone directories, too. We made a winter holiday postcard with this design, too, which was a lot of fun!
Here’s the new brand Design Kompany made for the Japanese restaurant Miyabi.
Design Kompany came up with the total brand image: a custom typeface for ‘Miyabi,’ custom illustrations, the color palette, and the typefaces to pair with the new logo.
At first the owners of this Tukwila restaurant thought they might like a sleek, Japanese bistro look that would be upscale and posh.
But after talking with Design Kompany, it became clear that “young people looking for a fancy date spot” just isn’t Miyabi’s target audience.
Families come here. Local regulars. And business folks who happen to be in the area, which is near Sea-Tac airport.
“After going through [the questionnaire] with you guys,” Miyabi co-owner Hisako Shirakura said, “we realized we want a look that says ‘we’re fun.’
“We want people to know they can come here and have a nice time. And… we want to surprise them.”
“Quirky, in other words? A little… off-center?”
So we brought to the team Design Kompany illustrator Aaron Barker. “I was really enthusiastic about working with Design Kompany on a sushi restaurant’s logo,” he says. Aaron drew the fish and created the font for “Miyabi”.
I tried many ‘style’ concepts, from sketchy pencil to crisp vector graphics, abstracted letterforms to kawaii, or ‘Japanese cute.’ I’ve spent a lot of time around fish my whole life, visiting aquariums, commercial fishing… And in high school I even took a workshop with the famous fish illustrator Ray Troll. –DK illustrator Aaron Barker.
Keep an eye out for more from this up and coming artist, who sometimes signs his drawings “Aaron Bee.”
New business cards for Miyabi came out at the end of 2006.