The creative director of Uniqlo and one of Japan’s most revered creative minds, Kashiwa Sato discussed the evolution of his winning approach to design. On January 14, 2021, the long-time UNIQLO collaborator shared his secrets in the graphic design industry, which spans everything from interiors to communications.
The style’s strong and clear voice ranges from simple color spots and geometrics to loud mascots and cute patterns. From pop to minimalism, you can see the influence of Japan’s art style all over western countries, including the UK and USA. Specifically, Japan’s traditional woodblock prints and brush fonts, and contemporary graphic designs have inspired designers in many countries.
Drawing inspiration from West to East, this country’s ultra-modern and traditional art legacies has made formidable impacts in the graphic design industry.
The land of the rising sun is the home of Uniqlo, a global textile manufacturer, and Kashiwa Sato, a self-thought architect and one of Japan’s most-celebrated graphics designer. Sato is the recipient of the Nikkei Trendy Advertisement Award. As of November 30, 2019, Uniqlo reported that they have over 2,200 stores worldwide.
Practical but pleasing and subtle but easy, Japan’s distinctive petite and practical design trends are all over their advertisements and packaging. As well, Japanese manufacturers resembling Muji, a minimalistic retail and packaging company, has been well-loved worldwide. Today, Muji has 930 stores in 31 countries.
Kashiwa Sato, a graphic designer recognized for his works with Honda, Uniqlo, and Issey Miyaki, is one of the many behind the nation’s globally-recognized products and exports. He has also lent his hand to some artwork colleges by teaching as a visiting professor. At times, he serves as a cultural ambassador for Japanese companies. The Agency for Cultural Affairs appointed him as Japan’s cultural envoy in recent years.
In an interview conducted by Creative Review UK, Sato’s very first exposure to the art and creative industries was through his father, an architect. He said, “Father designed the first floor of our house. It was a large space without walls and partitions. Light fixtures and furniture divided our home. Since then, I have loved that kind of minimalist atmosphere.
Since I was a small child, I have loved to draw. Whenever I found my father’s newspaper or a piece of paper, I would draw on it. From there, my love for the art and design industry has continued to grow.”
A workaholic, Kashiwa Sato also revealed that he can juggle 400 plus projects at the same time. “I think the more I design, the more I want to create pieces of artwork.” He added, “My reason why I want to work hard is because, for me, the more output I make, the more input I can receive.”
Sato’s design, like the most popular trends in the industry nowadays, lacks grandiosity and is characterized by subtle but strong objects. His designs are both playful and witty. He favors “simplicity” because he wants his artworks to be user-friendly. For him, products, packaging, and logos should be simple enough that even housewives could understand the concept. He mentioned, “I can explain my design to my mother over the phone.” That’s how he has enticed some of his clients, including Honda and Uniqlo.
Kashiwa Sato is one of the most in-demand creative designers in Japan. He has shaped the brand identity of his clients. Recently, he redesigned Uniqlo’s business emblem. In contrast to the old logo, the new one looks very bright and identifiable. It establishes a clear connection with Japan and its consumers, millennials and boomers.
According to Harvard Business Review, customers gravitate towards minimalist designs when selecting products since it makes the purpose of the brand immediately obvious. Out of 2,630 participants, 71% prefer products with simple packaging and designs.
The new design showcased a great link to its home country, as if it’s paying homage. Its palette is the notable red color in Japan’s flag. Nevertheless, Sato didn’t leave out the company’s avid foreign customers. He featured Katakana in his designs. Katakana is one of the four-character sets being used in the country. It’s mainly used for foreign words. Foreigners often learn Katakana first before Hiragana and Kanji. Aside from this, Sato has made the new logo look like a Japanese ink seal, reinforcing another link with its main consumers.
The Importance of Logos
A logo plays a big part in brand identity design (what prospects will see). An effective logo must be memorable and can differentiates you from your rivals. Above all else, it must foster your brand identity.
In packaging design, vibrant color and simple art draws people. A well-designed and well-colored logo can draw interest and pique the curiosity of prospects. It can prompt people to take a look or make a purchase. Investing in a custom logo design can increase sales and engagement.
According to Sato, “Good design is something you can explain to your parents, whether they’re an architect or a housewife.”
Whether you’re on a vacation, busy with taking care of a loved one, or just starting your business, we, at DesignBro, can communicate your story to your prospects. With our powerful but simplistic designs for your business, we can touch the hearts of your customers and clearly convey your offers. A logo and branding that can move prospects towards you is the next thing your business or start-up needs. Like Sato, we value user-friendliness and efficacy. For a business that treats customers like family, not just a number, DesignBro has your back. We truly care about your future success and your business as a whole.
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.