Ikki Kobayashi returns with a new train of thought, this time focusing on positivity and interiors
The physical space is where the Japanese graphic designer has spent much of his time designing, resulting in a collection of sticker designs and an encouraging poster series.
- Ayla Angelos
- 7 January 2021
The work of Japanese graphic designer Ikki Kobayashi never ceases to impress. Not least for the fact that he seems to work in waves. One year he’ll be inspired by graffiti, and the next a tide of monochrome will sweep over his creations. This time around, he tells us how he’s been wanting to work with textiles, fabrics and interiors – a new direction for the designer, and one that has resulted in a few finished outcomes. Including an exhibition, an abundance of interior design and apparel jobs, as well as a new train of thought which gave him space to think about the possibilities of what graphic design can do in physical spaces.
Then there’s his series called Forget me nots. Made entirely for the purpose of being framed in a room, this endeavour sees Ikki’s recent turn take shape in a colourful and more physical manner. Featuring copyrighting from Sherry Zheng, he notes how the last year has taught him much about the importance of doing what you want to do and, in this case, it was a new series of posters. “I wanted to create a series of posters that would help people to solve the little problems that they face in their lives,” Ikki tells It’s Nice That. “I can say that this year has seen an increase in the opportunities for my expression to intervene in our lifestyle.”
For those who aren’t quite familiar with his previous works, expect to see a medley of effortlessly themed pieces that are in many ways dictated by humour. “I think the important thing is to entertain, to make something that is pleasing to the eye,” he says, stating this as his reason for wanting to make visually powerful works. “It’s not just about standing out, it’s about tasing good, smelling good, being warm – it’s about stimulating the senses.” This is because, in his eyes, everything he makes is meaningless unless people can see it. So enjoyment gets placed in the centre of all that he designs, alongside the decision to keep things simple, shying away from anything too decorative.
To achieve his wonderful creations, Ikki works to a three-part structured day. First, he begins the morning with layouts on the computer, before heading into the afternoon to look after his daughter, and then working on drawings in the evening. He’s also head-chef in the house, so he’ll make sure to bring lunch and dinner to the table; he sees this part as a good opportunity to relax.
By allowing time to flit between work and personal activities, Ikki has managed to strike a chord in terms of work-life balance. This hard-working attitude and ability to switch off must be the cause for him being able to churn out such consistently strong work. His Forget me nots project is a prime example, whereby the mammoth collection of posters each present an encouraging phrase upon it, such as “Don’t stuff yourself”, “Smile smile smile”, “Eat a bit of everything” and “Don’t forget to turn the lights off”.
Elsewhere, Ikki launched a series of sticker designs that were released in time for the festival period last month. Although Christmas is probably the last thing to think about right now, the manner at which Ikki was able to execute these designs was nothing close to stereotypical. In collaboration with Spiral, a design-sensitive boutique, the stickers, ornaments and gift tags were created for the boutique’s Christmas market – produced in addition to a set of limited edition postcards and letter sets for an exhibition.
“I wanted to create a variety of products that would make it difficult for customers to choose,” he says, including his signature dose of fun executed in a range of joyful characters. At the end of last year, too, Ikki and the team received a welcomed report that indicated how the sales of which had doubled from their target. “As a designer, I couldn’t be happier to have been able to contribute to the shops in this way, especially in a year when consumption was so depressed.”
Although Christmas is now yet another 12 months away, this project – like many others – presents a new page for the designer. With plans to work more on projects outside of Japan, Ikki also hopes to give back to society as much as he can through his projects. It seems that the physical sphere is likely to make more appearances, too, and we’re more than excited for the next turn.
Ikki Kobayashi: Forget me nots. (Copyright © Ikki Kobayashi, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.