Edmonton’s first design week has many highlights, including a poster exhibition dedicated to Shin Matsunaga
The city of Edmonton is declaring a week to recognize every facet of design, fittingly named Edmonton Design Week. For nine days, patrons will be able to view an array of designs that celebrate various painters, fashion designers, architects, welders, interior designers, potters, animators, and more.
“[Edmonton is] a place where people come to escape the confines of convention and a place with a unique aptitude for free thinking, incubating, experimenting and instigating,” says one of member of the Design Week team and executive director of Harcourt House’s Artist Run Centre, Jacek Malec. “Design week is an opportunity to redress this.”
Each participating venue will have its own installation or exhibit with Harcourt House using their off-site location, the Enterprise Square Gallery, to display the only international exhibition dubbed The Graphic Appetite. The exhibition will be made up of more than 50 posters created by Shin Matsunaga, one of Japan’s leading designers.
“The exhibition not only showcases Matsunaga’s impressive corpus of work, but also highlights his diverse range of symbolic idioms, and discusses visual vocabulary which has been so expertly articulated through the universal themes of his poster designs,” Malec says.
Now a 77-year-old master designer, Matsunaga rose to worldwide fame in Japan’s post-World War Two era. He completed the design course at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1964 and went on to work with the cosmetic producer Shiseido. Sometime after in 1971, he founded his own design studio.
He was praised for his simple, yet elegant designs that grasp an object’s very essence and function of design. His autobiography states that he does this using a “three-metre” philosophy. Basically, he finds inspiration from objects within a total of three metres of wherever he is. He then searches for the greater meaning within an object and interprets it in a visually pleasing and artistic way.
Sometimes the result can be an object covered in a palette of colour, simple for the audience to grasp. Other times it can be peppered in typography, and visual ‘sounds,’ making it subversively abstract. Within a few minutes of viewing Matsunaga’s posters, your perception of what an object is or does will be accepted, challenged, and manipulated.
The exhibition is peaceful and enlightening, with a few of Matsunaga’s posters standing out among the rest.
The first was his “Vision of Water,” the most minimal of the exhibition. It has five horizontal bars painted with different shades of blue and is Matsunaga’s interpretation of the different colours the ocean makes when hit by different forms of light.
Another was simply named “Poster 1991,” which centres around an obsidian triangle against a blue background with an erupting rainbow of colour protruding from its peak. On the left side is Japan’s crimson rising sun circle. On the right, a yellow crescent moon. The poster is somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, only in reverse.
Finally, the third is a poster Matsunaga designed for the Nima Sand Museum in Oda, Japan. It displays a colossal midnight blue diamond that’s insides can be seen. Inside hundreds of support beams are holding the structure up. This could be a reference to the internal geometrical structure of a diamond, or just Matsunaga playing with our minds.
Matsunaga is one of the godfathers of design, so it’s fitting that he has his own exhibition during the inaugural design week.
Thu., Sept. 21 – Sun., Sept. 30
Edmonton Design Week
Various Galleries in
Edmonton (Shin Matsunaga at Enterprise Gallery, 10230 Jasper Ave.)