Osaka Brand Committee
Gaku Azuma
Gaku Azuma
Gaku Azuma
Gaku Azuma
Yasumichi Morita
Yasumichi Morita
Ken Miki
Chiaki Murakami
Ryo Yamazaki
Biolgical field
Water city
Osaka Kaleidoscope
#4 Graphic Design as Global Language

Communicating with the world with a pocket-sized earth

For creator Ken Miki, graphic design is a language that can be universally understood. Miki always carries a small, folded version of the "earth" in his pocket – a plain white business card embossed with a world map, which transforms into a small cubic globe in his palm. The globe is marked with grid lines that show the universal address of his Osaka office – latitude 34 degrees 41' 23'' north and longitude 135 degrees 32' 44'' east. By indicating his global standpoint as a dot on this small earth, Miki visualizes the distance and relationship between him and the people with whom he aims to communicate. Regardless of language barriers that may exist between them, this small globe as well as Miki's uniqueness in his designs instantly impresses people and inspires a shared feeling among them, quickly bringing both parties closer. This is the moment when graphic design crosses cultural borderlines.

A small "folded" earth that transforms from a flat card to a cubic globe is a communication tool that Miki uses for his business.

Designing new ways of communications to inspire people's five senses with witty tricks

Miki greatly enjoys implementing small witty tricks in his designs. In his work, countless unique features are always found. His posters and building signs, for example, often skillfully incorporate visual illusions. For the sales promotion of IBM's laptop computer series, he converted its hard-to-approach product concept to a familiar dog character. In developing a new product line of coffee, he created a packaging design that appeals to all of our five senses and delivers cultures and customs of the origin of coffees. For an international conference of the graphic design industry, he designed a visitor's kit that neatly compiled the necessary information to understand the structure of the event site and the flow of people. In Miki's hands, graphic designs magically emerge from a mere work done on a flat surface into three-dimensional objects, languages and music, system structures, or human relationships. His designs inspire our five senses like rhythmical lyrics and extend beyond time and dimensions to discover the possibility of communication in our subconscious.

"Congress kit" for 2003 Icograda CONGRESS

 IBM Japan's ThinkPad promotion

Nouveau Coffee brand identity

 Creative inspirations from plain-white riverside office

A few years ago, Miki moved his office in Osaka to a riverside building in the Kitahama district. Located between Tenjin Bridge and Naniwa Bridge on the Okawa River, an old building was totally renovated by Miki and his staff into a contemporary space for creations, where new communication ideas are continuously born. Unified in a pure white color, the inside of his office appears as if it were a museum of information design. The building comprises a meeting room on the first floor, a designing room and an office on the second floor, an archive room on the third floor that systematically stores all necessary information for his work, and a "blank" room on the fourth floor that is saved for creative inspirations. In spite of inorganic concrete walls exposed throughout the building, Miki's office welcomes people with a warm feeling, including those who just visit to take a tour. From this "iyashiro-chi (a place for comfort)" that has been created, Miki and his staff members continue to produce a whole catalog of new graphic designs while enjoying a refreshing breeze from the river and from the outside world.

February 25, 2008
Kana Yoshimi

Ken Miki Profile

Graphic designer. Born in 1955, Miki established his office, Ken Miki & Associates, in 1982 and has completed a wide range of design works for major businesses and projects, including IBM Japan (ThinkPad promotion), Keikyu Department Store, former Dowa Insurance, U.COFFEE (corporate identity), World Environment Day Tokyo (event symbol), Keio Shonan Fujisawa Junior & Senior High School (school sign project), Suntory Collection (poster), and Heiwa Paper (paper promotion project). He has received various domestic and international awards, such as Japan Graphic Designers Association (JAGDA) New Designer Award, New York Art Directors Club (NY ADC) Special Award, Japan Typography Association (JTA) Almanac Grand Prize, and id Magazine Interactive Media Design Review Bronze Prize. His work has been collected on a global level by a number of museums, including the Suntory Museum (Osaka, Japan), the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama (Toyama, Japan), Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Hamburg, Germany), and the Chicago Athenaeum (Chicago, United States). His publications include "Selected Works 1994-2002 Ken Miki (amus arts press)" and "Graphic Wave 3" (ggg; coauthor).
Miki is a member of JAGDA, Tokyo Type Directors Club (TDC), JTA, and Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI).

Author Profile
Kana Yoshimi
Yoshimi works as a copywriter and interviewer and runs her own office, Canariya Company. In collaboration with a talent agency, Yellow Cab WEST, Yoshimi just launched a new project, "Bunkajin," to support cultural figures in the Kansai region with their activities, mainly in casting and producing.