Toru Kase on how he masters his “fragile” approach to graphic design

We check in with the designer after six years, and see how his portfolio has grown over time.

22 April 2022


The graphics of Toru Kase have always charmed us for their gentle and contemporary visuals. Since we last caught up with the Tokyo-based graphic designer, much has evolved in his work. He’s taken the nature of “fragility,” he tells us, and developed it in tandem with his exploration of graphics. “In recent years, I’ve been inspired by Will Work For Good and the designer Tztom Toda,” Toru adds on what’s been fuelling his creative spark as of late. They’re two influences we can clearly see in Toru’s beautiful portfolio, of which illuminates a designer at the top of the craft.

While we’re big fans of Toru’s hazy use of colour and dreamlike palettes, the designer is committed to switching things up. “I'll vary my palette and style depending on the project,” he explains, pointing to how a design for an exhibition poster can be radically different to that of a CD layout. “The second process is based on the idea of ‘fragility’, where perhaps the palette and style that emerges from this.” The “fragile” workings of Toru include sparse lines, delicate shapes, and of course, an always-alluring assortment of colour. “The intention for surreal design is there,” Toru explains. “But I don’t just aim for it, that’s just how it happens, or maybe that’s just my personal quality.”


Toru Kase: Taiko Super Kicks "波・石" (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2021)

On his work with the album Wave/Stone, by a band called Taiko Super Kicks, Toru had fun playing around on the visual identity. “I think the CD medium has become an old medium, so we thought about the interesting aspects of the product that are unique to CDs,” he says. “The artwork seems to be tied directly to the title, which is just a word. We were thinking of something that was not abstracted down to a sign or symbol on the front of illustration. You might call it an emoji-like approach.” Similarly, in his work for SKWAT Collective entitled 4202122, Toru pours part of himself in to the project. “SKWAT Collective temporarily ‘occupy’ vacant spaces that arise during tenant changeover periods, etc., and create a base for transmitting culture,” he explains. “This time, as part of the SKWAT project, we were involved in the interior graphics for a floor of a commercial facility called PARCO in Shibuya, Tokyo.” As part of the project, Toru rethought the value of the brick-like graphic sheets that are often used in Japan for interior design. “I thought about it with Mr. Nakamura and everyone at Daikei Mills. The result was a graphic sheet that looked like abstracted bricks.”

Now, Toru is focusing on dealing with the development of technology in his industry. “I believe there has been a recent expansion of graphic arts such as p5.js and NFT,” he says. “I feel that we need to think about how to deal with such things.” However, it’s not just the future of technology which piques his interest. As ever, he holds the more ‘fragile’ things in life close to himself. “Overall, I still think poetry and rhetoric are always important,” he concludes.


Toru Kase: Okada Takuro+duenn "都市計画 (Urban Planning)" (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2020)


Toru Kase: Toru Kase: JAGDA New Designer Awards Exhibition (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2021)


Toru Kase: SKWAT / TORU KASE / SHIBUYA PARCO "4202122" (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2022)


Toru Kase: SKWAT / TORU KASE / SHIBUYA PARCO "4202122" (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2022)


Toru Kase: SKWAT / TORU KASE / SHIBUYA PARCO "4202122" (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2022)


Toru Kase: Okada Takuro+duenn "都市計画(Urban Planning)" (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2020)


Toru Kase: Film, Airflows (People Who Read Books) (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2020)

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Toru Kase: Oshima Pros (Copyright © Toru Kase, 2022)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

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