13 Franco-Japanese designers and illustrators respond to the philosophy of Emanuele Coccia in a new poster exhibition
Shun Ishizuka, Ikki Kobayashi, Kenta Cobayashi, Mina Tabei, Yui Takada and Yuki Yoki are just a few of the creatives contributing to the poster exhibition raising money for conservation organisation More Trees.
- Jyni Ong
- 14 August 2020
After eight years as co-director of the London-based design studio Zak Group, Grégory Ambos settled in Kyoto at the beginning of last year to start a solo practice and raise his half Japanese son. Hoping to set up a solo practice between Europe and Japan, he started collaborating with the Tokyo French Institute, an organisation he has continued to work with since.
In their latest collaborative project, Grégory put together an online poster exhibition titled Nature Is Not Your Household involving 13 Franco-Japanese graphic designers and illustrators to freely respond to a series of quotes by Italian philosopher Emanuele Coccia. The exhibition took place as part of an annual event Night of Philosophy and was themed around the Coccia’s book The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture.
The exhibition features some of It’s Nice That favourites including Shun Ishizuka, Ikki Kobayashi, Kenta Cobayashi, Yoshiki Muramatsu, Tomomi©Nishikawa, Mariko Okazaki, Shun Sasaki, Tezzo Suzuki, Mina Tabei, Yui Takada, Yuki Yoko, Hiroshi Ueta, not to mention Grégory Ambos himself. Creating a set of beautifully designed posters, the artworks will be available to purchase online with all profits donated to the Japanese forest conservation organisation More Trees led by the acclaimed musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.
“It was a strange coincidence that at the exact same time the French Institute was planning this event,” Grégory tells us, “I had initiated a series of work following the reading of the exact same book.” Grégory invited the 13 creatives to respond to a series of quotes taken from the book. He’d found Coccia’s ideas “very inspiring”, resonating with the philosopher’s words given today’s pressing climate issues and health crises. In Life of Plants, Coccia offers readers new ways of perceiving the world where “each living species – plants, humans or animals are interconnected, fully immersed in one breath.”
In Coccia’s writing, the term permeability is key, not only in this world and our independent realities, but in everything. He writes: “it is only by recognising that all living things, whatever the species, live the same life that a planetary and ecological policy can be created. It is only when we will recognise that the life that animates and passes through us is the same as the one which animates and passes through a dandelion, a bird, but also the fungi, bacteria or virus that have caused so many deaths that we can change our outlook, our attitude and our actions towards the planet.”
In turn, with this exhibition Nature Is Not Your Household, Grégory’s intention was to quite simply share these ideas with a new audience. Enacting the help of his fellow designers and illustrators – working through a few language barriers – the poster exhibition aims to spread the ecological philosophy of Coccia and his zen-like ideals.
With an open brief, the result (as we can see) is rather eclectic. A testament to the variety of the Japanese graphic design scene, the variety of designs spans a range of tastes, styles and mediums. For Tezzo Suzuki’s poster, the interpretation was based on a personal memories when he was a first year student at Tokyo Geidei. The poster recalls his daily journey into university. While he cycled to school along a riverside way, a dense forest stretched out alongside him. There were rumours that people lived secretly in this forest; a forest known for its mystical folk tales of witches and elves.
The forest remained a mystery to Tezzo during his time at university and continues to influence him to this day. He often imagines how it would feel to live and work surrounded by woods instead of furniture, and explores this evocative fantastic through his poster for Nature Is Not Your Household. Elsewhere, Grégory delves into the practice of Shodo, something he’s expanded since moving to Japan permanently. “For my contribution to the exhibition,” he finally goes on to say, “I collaborated with Kyoto Shodo artist Hiroshi Ueta who drew a series of 変態Hentai (metamorphosis in Japanese) to reflect the ever changing forms of life. For the anecdotes, the word “hentai” in Japanese has multiple meanings depending on the context that I will let the readers seek out if they are interested.” In the case of this poster however, it reflects metamorphosis as the biological process of change.
GalleryNature is Not Your Household
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.