Born to Break the Barriers – KASHIWA SATO and His Cross-border Design
VISD2006-01 Graphic Design Hist-20th Cent
Blog Post 2 – Who or what is missing from our textbook?
By Yunfangzhou Tan (# 3166753)
I clearly remember, last summer, while I was walking on the busy, crowded streets in Tokyo on my own, buildings in neon flesh lights mixed with traffic lights were everywhere around me. The convenient stores and clothes shops can be seen frequently on the streets in Japan. Remarkably, UNIQLO and 7-11 (Seven-Eleven) are respectively the world wide brands of groceries and casual wear in Japan, where places designed for young people. Customers usually recognize the logos or the icons of these kinds of stores and then walk in. So as the highly-recognizable icons of UNIQLO and 7-11 that are designed by Kashiwa Sato.
Who is KASHIWA SATO? “Born in Tokyo in 1965. Graduated from the Department of Graphic Design, Faculty of Art and Design of Tama Art University. Spent 11 years at Hakuhodo and established his own creative studio, SAMURAI, in Japan in 2000. Kashiwa Sato, one of the world’s leading creative directors, delivers a fresh perspective of design to the world. From concept and communication strategy building to developing brand logos, Kashiwa’s ability as a brand architect to identity, elucidate, and visualize the essence of the subject is highly acclaimed in number of fields” (KASHIWA SATO – CREATIVE DIRECTOR). “In a globalized market awash in digital information, Sato has honed an approach he calls ‘iconic branding.’ The idea is to identify a core message and design an icon-a potent anchor image or symbol-to convey that message succinctly and instantaneously across linguistic and cultural barriers” (Yumi, “Creative Director Satō Kashiwa: An Eye for the Iconic”).
“Logos can function as icons, of course, but so can products, buildings, and even architectural spaces. So, what makes any of these things an icon?” (Yumi, “Creative Director Satō Kashiwa: An Eye for the Iconic”).
“Kashiwa Sato took charge of all global branding communication activities for UNIQLO, a global leading fashion brand from Tokyo, starting with the opening of the flagship store in 2006, ‘UNIQLO SOHO NEW YORK.’ to realize the unique creative and design foundation of UNIQLO, he established the core brand” (KASHIWA SATO – CREATIVE DIRECTOR) “like GAP and H&M were making big gains globally” (Yumi, “Creative Director Satō Kashiwa: An Eye for the Iconic”).
“In Sato’s minimalist approach to complex ideas, he draws inspiration from Japanese culture and traditions. When the head of UNIQLO asked him to design a logo for the business, Sato chose red and white, which he said instantly identifies UNIQLO as Japanese because it is reminiscent of the country’s flag” (Horn, “’A Strong Identity Is an Icon’ Says the Designer behind the Uniqlo Logo”).  “He then felt intuitively that katakana characters would work best as the key visual. He was after a kind of ‘exquisite intuitively’ that would elicit a double take from Japanese and foreign consumers alike. The fact that it ended up working just as envisioned on busy streets in cities around the world gave Sato confidence a boost. It proved that you could control a brand’s image very precisely through visual signals like font and color. For him, that experience was a powerful demonstration of the power of icons” (Yumi, “Creative Director Satō Kashiwa: An Eye for the Iconic”). “‘super rationality with aesthetic consciousness,’ which summarizes UNIQLO’s value proposition to the world: high-quality products at affordable prices” (Williams, “Kashiwa Sato: Branding Is Limited by Tradition & Common Sense”). 
“It has been 40 years since 7-11 (Seven-Eleven) Japan was established. Kashiwa Sato built a design strategy with a focus on its private brand for the purpose of re-branding this global convenience store chain in 2010. Kashiwa repositioned Seven-Eleven Japan’s private brand, which was in its third year, not by the position of private” (KASHIWA SATO – CREATIVE DIRECTOR). “It’s the same approach he’s used for other high-profile clients like UNIQLO and NTT Docomo but the essence is to identify a core message and then design an icon that conveys that message across barriers” (Johnny, “Kashiwa Sato’s Rebranding for 7-Eleven Japan”).
“‘I see everything through icons and iconic branding,’ Sato once said. And as he continues to create more instantly recognizable logos, most of the world will be seeing more of him” (Horn, “’A Strong Identity Is an Icon’ Says the Designer behind the Uniqlo Logo”). 
# Other Designs & Books by Kashiwa Sato:
“KASHIWA SATO – CREATIVE DIRECTOR / SAMURAI INC. TOKYO.” KASHIWA SATO – CREATIVE DIRECTOR / SAMURAI INC. TOKYO, kashiwasato.com/.
Horn, Robert. “’A Strong Identity Is an Icon’ Says the Designer behind the Uniqlo Logo.” NATIONAL DESIGN CENTRE, 7 Mar. 2018, www.designsingapore.org/modules/design-news/a-strong-identity-is-an-icon-says-the-designer-behind-the-uniqlo-logo.html.
Johnny. “Kashiwa Sato’s Rebranding for 7-Eleven Japan.” Spoon & Tamago, 18 June 2018, www.spoon-tamago.com/2018/06/18/kashiwa-satos-rebranding-for-7-eleven-japan/.
Williams, Sarah. “Kashiwa Sato: Branding Is Limited by Tradition & Common Sense.” 816 NEW YORK, 816nyc.com/kashiwa-sato-brand-limited-common-sense/#.Xn7zG4hKiUk.
Yumi, Kiyono. “Creative Director Satō Kashiwa: An Eye for the Iconic.” Nippon.com, 17 Mar. 2017, www.nippon.com/en/people/e00109/creative-director-sato-kashiwa-an-eye-for-the-iconic.html.