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Typographic Composition, Yoshihisa Shirai

  • In the exhibition title refers to composition that includes the space in which lettering is arranged and configured on a page. The exhibition displayed many such works by Shirai, who is active mainly in book and editorial design, including both his beautiful book designs and meticulously designed two-page spreads entirely in black lettering. The gallery walls were left completely white, while the books he had designed were set out neatly on white tables, creating a beautiful, serene space. The gallery's outer wall surfaces of glass allowed the exhibit to be seen from outside, seemingly floating in space. Besides Shirai's actual works, also introduced were materials he has used as references in the course of creating his typography. Showing how Shirai has borrowed or referred to knowledge and compositions of the past and transformed them in his works, the exhibition enabled visitors to enjoy the truly profound world of typographic composition.

  • ID


  • Exhibition Name

    Typographic Composition, Yoshihisa Shirai

  • Period

    January 19, 2019–March 16, 2019

  • Exhibition Type

    Traveling exhibition from ggg to ddd

  • Venue

    ddd Uzumasa, Kyoto

  • Featured Designers

  • Poster Designers

  • January 12, 2019
    Gallery Talk
    kyoto ddd gallery

    At this Gallery Talk, Mr. Shirai spoke of how he originally decided to focus on typography under the influence of the various people he met after joining his first place of employment. Subsequently, until his mid-thirties he said he followed the "orthodox" path of Swiss typography, which he became infatuated with thanks especially to the influence ot Helmut Schmid. After the death of Etsushi Kiyohara, principal of Seihokei Corporation, Mr. Shirai became eager to broaden his horizons. He organized an in-house study group and it was here, he said, that he learned how to skillfully use Japanese typefaces. Referring to his works on display, Mr. Shirai proceeded to explain a large number of them in detail in terms of their layout and formatting.

  • February 15, 2019
    Gallery Talk "Restrictions and Freedom"
    kyoto ddd gallery

    In this second Gallery Talk, Mr. Shirai was posed questions about composition by Nicole Schmid, daughter of the late Helmut Schmid, and Atsushi Ichino, a Kyoto-based designer of Mr. Shirai's generation. a slide presentation about composition was given, divided into four themes: line breaks and composition; spacing and density; grids and freedom; and books and appearance. What's aimed at in using hanging paragraphs in the pages of "IDEA" magazine? How should one use fleurons? What's the secret to creating good block spacing? These were among the questions asked, all of relevance to designers, and Mr. Shirai responded very thoroughly to each. He related how his stance toward composition had changed around his mid-thirties: whereas up until then he had attached importance to Swiss typography and its total emphasis on function, after that he broke free and shifted to ad hos use of the grid system and fleurons as best fit the purpose expressing the content of the written text.

  • January 26, 2019
    Gallery Tour
    kyoto ddd gallery

    At Gallery Tour, he explained his works on display, which were arranged in near chronological order, again in great detail — touching upon the typefaces used, the book formats employed during their production, anecdotes about the editors he had worked with, the impact from the development of desktop publishing, etc.


Photographer: YOSHIDA Akihito

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