Tokyo-based studio Goo Choki Par is made up of three graphic designers: Q Asaba, Kent Iitaka, and Rei Ishii, and the trio regularly work on a range of projects from art direction to brand identities, digital artworks to poster design.
The work is split equally and the aim of most of their projects is to visually express something in a new way. “The goal is not to create planned harmony, but to create colour-matching shapes that the three of us did not anticipate,” says Iitaka.
Working for a range of Tokyo-based brands and initiatives, past projects have seen the studio create a brand identity for a creative workspace in the city, posters for sumo wrestling TV coverage and jazz-inspired pattern designs for an Issey Miyake collection.
One of Goo Choki Par’s latest and biggest projects has been designing a set of 23 posters for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which kicked off this week. The studio was commissioned earlier this year and the team have been sharing snippets of the work over the past few months as the competition draws closer. It’s one of the studio’s most prominent projects, as it’s the first time a poster has been used to specifically promote the Paralympics – typically one poster is used for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Inspired by the Paralympians of past and present and their “powerful, physical dynamism”, the concept for the posters was “unity in diversity”. Geometric shapes and expressive linework has been used to simplify the sports seen in the competition to embody the movement, power and strength seen within them. The studio used brushes and pencils to heighten this sense of movement and the main image puts the Paralympians front and centre.
“After scanning and importing [the drawings] to a computer, we mixed them with CG effects and incorporated those into the final graphic,” explains Iitaka. “By using analogue and digital techniques, it creates a more diverse outcome.”
The team immersed themselves in the world of para-sports and their fascination with the competition and the inspiring stories within para-athletics helped keep the studio on track.
“The more we knew about the competition, the more we were drawn to the appeal of each of the sports,” says Iitaka. “And although there was no request from the Tokyo Organizing Committee, we voluntarily created posters for all the competitions at the Games.”
While the Paralympics, like the Olympics, will have no physical spectators due to Covid restrictions, Iitaka says that the atmosphere within the city has been joyful, with everyone tuning in at home.
“It’s a pity that we can only see it online, but I’m still impressed with all the athletes and I’ve been really excited about watching the goalball matches,” he says. “Watching the Paralympics gives us a new sense of humanity, and to experience the real strength and potential of human beings.”
Across all of Goo Choki Par’s work, the studio hopes to create a sense of positivity, passion and lightness. As with the Paralympic posters, for their other projects the trio often like to mix techniques together and find new approaches for their work, a process they describe as “the real pleasure of production”.
This drive to seek out something new is partly motivated by the desire to stand out against the crowd. “There are many legendary designers both in Japan and abroad, and the aesthetics of design have been established to some extent. There is a finished typography, beautiful typesetting, layout theory,” explains Iitaka.
“While having respect for such traditional aesthetics, we would like to continue to seek new approaches for the future that we have not yet seen.
“Nowadays, there are many simple and minimalist approaches, and we would like to emphasise ‘artistic’ rather than design as functional beauty, and aim for a design that can directly impact human emotions.”