Japanese designer Shigeo Fukuda first met Paul Rand as a design student at Tokyo Geijitsu University. Rand had been invited to participate in a exhibition called Graphic' 55, and Fukuda was so taken with his work that he visited the exhibition ten times in seven days. After graduating, Rand recommended Fukuda for a teaching position at Yale University, and the two would remain friends until Rand's death in 1996.
I believe that in design, 30 percent dignity, 20 percent beauty and 50 percent absurdity are necessary.
Toys and Things
Shigeo Fukuda began making toys for his daughter Miran beginning in the mid-1960s. Recognizing the quality of his friend's work, Rand championed and produced an exhibition of Fukuda’s designs at the IBM Gallery in New York. Toys & Things Japanese: The Work of Shigeo Fukuda opened in May of 1967 and marked Fukuda’s first United States exhibition. Years later, the Japanese designer fondly remembered the experience as the highlight of his career.
Paul Rand is a man who has shaped and influenced the course of 20th century graphic design to a remarkable degree.
Shigeo Fukuda was a highly influential Japanese post-war graphic designer, known for his radical visual simplicity, fierce wit and political advocacy. Fukuda worked with a universal visual language, inspired by both eastern and western traditions, creating an impactful style well-suited to his anti-war and pro-peace themes.
Fukuda was born in Tokyo in 1932, into a family of toy manufacturers. Aware of his creative proclivities from a young age, Fukuda attended the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music from 1952 to 1956. During his studies, he was largely interested in the design style originating from Sweden in the 1940s and 1950s, which later became known as the International Style and served as the basis for much mid-century graphic design. This style focused on posters as the most effective means of communication, mathematically-precise layouts, and simplistic, dynamic visual designs. One of Fukuda’s idols, graphic designer Takashi Kono, was also rising to prominence at this time, as he and his contemporaries were working to introduce the west to eastern aesthetics and elevate posters as an art form. Kono was also a veteran and believed socially-conscious, captivating design could be influential on a global scale - surely something that Fukuda was inspired by. Graphic design in Japan in this era, unlike America, was not focused on advertising, thus the medium was seen more as a vehicle for communication and used to spread ideals of pacifism and environmentalism.
Auction Results Shigeo Fukuda