De Monsterkamer

Yoshihisa Tanaka about paper

What is your favorite paper and why?
I like “Marble 100” of TOKAI PULP & PAPER Co., Ltd. It’s the most blue-ish white paper that I know. It is thin, but not really see-through. Also I like that it is 100% recycled and acid-free.

Could you give an example of one of your designs where paper played a special or particularly functional role?
1. The Lookbook and DVD for Yohji Yamamoto Homme 2009–2010 Autumn/Winter collection. The theme of this collection was “1 mile wear style”. The brand requested me to design a Lookbook and a DVD that are able to reveal a dowdy and miserable man. In order to convey the image of a man with disheveled hair and a rolled-up newspaper who put a formal trench coat or a jacket on top of his pajamas or home-wear, I printed the logo of the brand on the back side of a crumpled poster. I chose a thin and rough paper, easy to crumple but which can also be very flat when pressed. When you open the package, the photos of the collection come up on a wrinkled texture. Each and every one of the posters with the printed logo has a different line of wrinkle. Because the logos were printed after the poster had been crumpled, every package opened in unique way.

Yoshihisa Tanaka for Yohji Yamamoto Homme 2009-2010

Lookbook and DVD for Yohji Yamamoto Homme 2009-2010 Autumn/Winter collection

Inside of the Lookbook and DVD for Yohji Yamamoto Homme 2009–2010 Autumn/Winter fashion show

Yoshihisa Tanaka

Examples of unique patterns of the Lookbook for Yohji Yamamoto Homme 2009–2010 Autumn/Winter collection

2. Stationary for the “limArt” book shop. limArt is a book shop that has a wide range of quality art books from all over the world. Their book selections are from various time periods, ranging from the 50s to brand-new titles. I thought that the stationary for limArt needs to have texture and materiality. I used many different kinds of paper, and the graphics on the stationary are laid-out three-dimensionally as opposed to the usual two-dimensions design.

limArt stationary collection

limArt stationary collection

How important is the choice of paper in your designs? Do you spend a lot of time choosing the paper?
I think of graphics, paper and printing as equally important, or having the ratios of  1:1:1, so I use my time equally for each aspect. There are over 20,000 kinds of papers in Japan and each paper has a different history and background. However when I think about the concept, cost and productivity, what the clients need, and try to match these factors with texture, color and appropriation of printing, it’s not difficult to narrow down and identify one or two kinds of paper.

Could you mention a designer whose paper choice appeals to you?
Hiromu Hara and Issay Kitagawa (in Japan), Irma Boom and Joost Grootens (in Europe).

Is there something missing in the current range of available paper?
Since the quality standards for papers used in Japan are very strict, the percentage of recycled papers available on the market is low. Even when there are some types available, the content ratio of used paper is extremely low. There should be more papers with rough quality (in a good sense) and barely printable, like those available in Europe.

What is your biggest frustration in the field of paper?
It is not easy to make original papers because the order size is usually too large.

Is it difficult or easy for designers in your country to find information on paper, paper samples and/or paper collections? 
There are two big paper businesses in Japan (Takeo Paper and Heiwa Paper) and their paper samples are very well organized. Even small paper-manufacturing companies have their own samples. So no, it’s not too difficult to get information on paper in Japan.

How do you see the future of paper?
I was thinking that the demand for paper will decrease with the widespread use of the Internet. But in fact, it is the use of paper that has changed. Paper used to be the chosen medium for mass consumption of information in Japan, but now it became more valuable for specialized books, and archives for communal facilities etc.

limArt stationary collection

limArt stationary collection

Interview conducted by De Monsterkamer with Yoshihisa Tanaka.
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