A Round-Table Discussion by Satoru Miyashita and KIGI at the 2017 ADC Gallery Exhibition

8/7/2017 Dialogue with Satoru Miyata, Editor's Blog, Interview Last modified 2 years ago

“D-BROS at GINZA SIX” has won an ADC Member Award at the 2017 ADC Awards, which is regarded as the summit of Japan’s advertising and design fields. In commemoration of winning this award, a round-table discussion by Mr. Satoru Miyashita, and the members of KIGI, Mr. Ryosuke Uehara and Ms. Yoshie Watanabe was held last July 19th at the Ginza Graphic Gallery. We would like to share with you the events of that day in this post.


Uehara: Firstly, the ADC Awards has various categories including logos, environment and space, and posters, but the “D-BROS at GINZA SIX” project was the judged based on each of these genres and won overall. There were many other people involved in this project aside from the three of us, such as DRAFT designers Takuma Fukuzawa and Aya Iida who both won Creator Awards.

Watanabe: Designers from other firms such Hironaka Ogawa of Hironaka Ogawa and Associates who did the interiors of our store were also involved.

Uehara: We also had several craftsmen, and this project won because there were really all kinds of people involved. Personally, I’m very happy that we won this particular ADC award. When I was at D-BROS, I’ve won two ADC Awards for my craft tape and vinyl flower vases, but those were not ADC Member Awards, just ADC Awards. Thus it was only I who won then. But in reality, I had Mr. Miyata and Yoshie-san behind me, which was why I won. That’s why I’m so happy we all won this time. How about you, Yoshie-san?

Watanabe: I was at DRAFT for 25 years, and D-BROS was established within those 25 years. Since then, we’ve all worked together, with Mr. Miyata and everyone else, so I’m really happy that we all won together. I’m basically saying the same thing as what Uehara said though (laughs).


Uehara: How about you, Mr. Miyata?

Miyata: I’ll tell you a bit later (laughs).

Uehara: By the way, KIGI branched out on its own from DRAFT in 2012 as part of DRAFT’s franchise system. Even though we’ve branched out, we’ve decided to continue with D-BROS, so we go to DRAFT about once every two weeks, and continue to have regular meetings about product development. With this project, we often went to DRAFT to direct the project, give advice on design and do other things.

Watanabe: That’s right.

Uehara: We had a two-pronged approach for the development of the products in this project. One approach was creating versions of existing products for GINZA SIX, for example, the flower vase. The other approach was creating totally new products. Among the new products we developed, the main one was the kamon (family crest) product line. We created a kamon book, furoshiki wrapping cloths, fans, and others with kamon designs on them. We also decided to make a few things with traditional crafts craftsmen, so we made bento boxes, lacquered stationery and letter boxes, and chopsticks. So in a nutshell, that’s what we did.

Miyata: So I’ll be the one to explain in detail (laughs).

Uehara: Yes, please (laughs).

Miyata: About two years ago, we received a proposal about being part of GINZA SIX. I confirmed and re-confirmed which spot our store will be located, how much money it will take, and other issues. I knew that as a small design company, we didn’t have that much money, we’d have to develop (the store) from scratch, and we didn’t have that much to spare. But I really thought about it, and decided to go for it. Even from way back, I’ve had the feeling that it won’t be good for us, as D-BROS, to make things in a half-baked way. So the DRAFT designers and I looked at all kinds of things. We went to rural areas, we looked at traditional objects. As we were doing this, we received the proposal from GINZA SIX. I started as a graphic designer. Kamon can be considered as the origin of Japanese graphic design, so I zeroed in on kamon and decided to pull things together around this theme. But it was really tough, wasn’t it?

Uehara: Yes, it was.

Miyata: We chose 350 kamon from the 20,000 kamon presently in existence, and our designers drew each one freely by hand. It might have been easier to produce the drawings using a computer, but the people of old did not use machines, so we decided that we too would draw them by hand. We researched each kamon we weren’t sure of, and while consulting with the Kamon Association, I decided that first, we must draw the kamon. But just drawing them wouldn’t do, so I thought that maybe we could make an artifact out of it. I then thought of making a kamon book. To make it, we had to think of the book design, what kind of paper we need, and even up to the way of binding it. I decided to use traditional crafts in all of these processes. Ultimately, we chose Echizen washi paper made in Fukui Prefecture. We really wanted to use India ink in the printing, so we had the printer do a lot of research but we were told that the printing machine would be ruined. The paper we used would last more than a thousand years, so that was ok. The book design also utilized kouki binding (a traditional bookbinding technique from Kyoto), so the binding will also last. But the problem was the printing, because we wanted to use India ink, if possible. Oh well, in the end, there was no other way but to print it the usual way. But even so, the printer said that printing technology now is excellent, which produces long-lasting prints.

▼This is our customized kamon book with Echizen washi paper from Fukui. Its binding was created using the kouki binding technique, which was done by a craftsman in Kyoto.

While this was happening, our designers said that they also want to make circular bento boxes, so we looked for those. We talked to several people in Akita and Yamagata, and it turned out that what was possible was severely limited. I also thought that if we didn’t use graphic design in the bento boxes, they would end up as mere traditional crafts. So we finally found our way to the metal spinning technique of Niigata which allowed us to utilize graphic design. But truthfully, the bento boxes don’t sell well (laughs).

▼A copper bento box created using a metal spinning technique

Uehara: (laughs)

Miyata: That’s why designers shouldn’t try to be cool or show off too much. We pared down the design to the point where you can’t tell the structure of the object anymore, so an ordinary person looking at it wouldn’t understand what is what. This is a disservice to the craftsman, so we will use this technique to make something else.

Uehara: This bento box has anti-rust properties, right?

Miyata: Of course.

Watanabe: This technique is too fine for a bento box, so we might use it to make a jewelry box.

Miyata: Each of these bento boxes were made by hand, so I had to consider how much we would pay the craftsman. Preserving traditional skills means allowing them to eat and have a living, thus the price of what they make will be expensive. We can lower the price, but that would mean haggling on their skills, so we didn’t do that. This is the reason why each one is expensive.

Our flower vase has been a big hit for D-BROS, so we decided to make them with a Japanese design. The tasks were to use gold, silver, and waritsuke komon, a fine pattern layout, and how to turn these into a design. It’s very difficult to use gold in vinyl, so we used aluminum vaporization to make this color appear. We’ve used a different method of printing these gold and silver vases, making them quite elaborate and different in appearance from our previous flower vases.

▼Our new flower vases with a Japanese motif

Uehara: When Mr. Miyata said he wanted to make “Japanese” flower vases, it was quite tough, wasn’t it?

Watanabe: We tried all kinds of things.

Uehara: It may look like it was easy to make, but this was the hardest flower vase to make. I knew it would be this difficult to create a design with a Japanese theme – we’ve haven’t really made anything “Japanese” so we learned a lot.
Changing the topic, Yoshie-san, not one of the new products have your illustrations on them. How were you involved in this project? I’m sure people are wondering why.

Watanabe: That’s true. I mainly do illustrations, but that’s not all I do (laughs). In this project, I did what an art director does – in meetings, I would evaluate things and give advice.

Uehara: You were quite tough.

Watanabe: Yes, I was. DRAFT designers work really hard so when something isn’t good, I clearly say it isn’t good. When I do this, the next thing that they come up with is much better. Honestly speaking, when this project started, I wondered if it would all come together because there was a time when all I said was “this isn’t good” over and over. But the designers’ confidence gradually grew when they did their presentations, and as their senior, I was happy to see their growth these past two years. Watching these young people grow, watching the products come to completion, and evaluating were my roles in this project.

Uehara: Yoshie-san, you were on fire when you were choosing kamon, right? Choosing 350 out of 20,000 kamon.

Watanabe: Even before, I’ve already been interested in kamon. DRAFT has a yearly “camp” at the beginning of the year. One year, people would make a presentation about what they’ve been studying, one year we’d just walk and walk in the mountains – camp was an event wherein people would do something at the beginning of the year. There was a time when two people had to present something as a group. That time, I chose kamon – Mr. Miyata, do you remember?

Miyata: I don’t (laughs).

Watanabe: I’ve been interested in kamon ever since. There are so many kamon that I really like, and when I was told to choose from among 20,000, I really wanted to choose the good ones no matter what.

Uehara: When you look at kamon, you’re glad to be Japanese, right?

Watanabe: You do feel a sense of wonder that they were able to make these many kamon designs. Yes, I too, feel proud as a Japanese person.

Uehara: Aside from the kamon we used in the products, I also made a kamon for D-BROS. I designed it, and based on this design, the D-BROS team developed it into packaging and shopping bags.


Watanabe: Can you see it here?

Uehara: Let me explain a bit. These show the “D” and “B” in “D-BROS.” A round shape was folded to make a “D,” and a rectangular shape was folded to make a “B.” They’re really simple, minimal designs using a circle and a rectangle to create the “D” and “B.”

Miyata: I’ve been doing branding work since my late 20s, and in order to do my job, I had to know about the shop’s management and monozukuri (making things). If I didn’t know these things, I wouldn’t be able to say anything (convincing) to companies, right? After all, it shouldn’t be all talk. You actually have to try and do things to be able to do your work. This is why we have D-BROS. But truthfully, it’s really hard work. It’s actually a tough job to the point that I think it’ll be much easier if D-BROS didn’t exist at all. But it’s true that D-BROS cultivates each and every designer. Just looking at these two of KIGI, their accomplishments as designers are so good they’re almost an aberration. They clear all criteria for grading and they’re at the top. Seeing them grow to this level, I am glad that we have D-BROS.

Watanabe: Graphic (design) and creating products seem close to each other, but they’re completely different. It’s really great that Uehara and I were able to make products at D-BROS. If we didn’t work at D-BROS, and if we only did graphic design work, I think we wouldn’t be who we are today, so I’m really grateful. D-BROS was founded by Mr. Miyata, and we were lucky to be at D-BROS at the right time.

Uehara: It’s time to wrap this up. Since GINZA SIX is nearby, let’s visit the store and see it for ourselves.


After the round-table discussion, the audience went to the D-BROS store on the 4th floor of GINZA SIX and saw the actual kamon book, bento boxes, and other products. Each product was carefully conceptualized and made, so people couldn’t stop talking and were excited up until closing time.


Near the end, the customized version of the kamon book (500,000 yen) made of Echizen washi paper and encased in a paulownia wooden box made an appearance, and we showed everyone this embodiment of all our work in the D-BROS at GINZA SIX project that took two years to complete.


D-BROS at GINZA SIX will continue to make traditional crafts from a graphic design perspective. Please look forward to our work.

* The ADC Awards are held every May and are sponsored by the Tokyo Art Directors Club. These awards are given to the best pieces in various categories such as posters, newspapers, magazines, TV commercials, and others. This year’s candidate pieces were published or presented between May 2016 and April 2017 in Japan. Out of approximately 8000 entries, pieces were chosen for 1 ADC Grand Prix Award, 9 ADC Awards, 3 ADC Member Awards, 2 ADC Creator Awards, and 1 Hara Hiromu Award.


▼D-BROS at GINZA SIX products which won the ADC Member Award may be purchased at the D-BROS WEB STORE.

▼Back issues about D-BROS at GINZA SIX
Folding Fans and Sophistication
A Book About Kamon, Exclusively for Our GINZA SIX Store
Part 6 of a Dialogue with Satoru Miyata – The D-BROS GINZA SIX Store as a New Endeavor
D-BROS’s Traditional Crafts Project “D-BROS at GINZA SIX” Wins the ADC Member Award!
Lacquered Bunkobako (Stationery and Letter Boxes): Traditional Crafts Meet Limited Edition Products to Commemorate the Opening of D-BROS GINZA SIX
The D-BROS GINZA SIX STORE, A New Concept Store by D-BROS is Now Open!

▼New content everyday at D-BROS’s official social media accounts!
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About the Author

Chi-na Lee

Born 1982 in Tokyo Japan.
Graduated from Hosei University.
In 2014, Joined Draft co,ltd.