Bridging 100 Years of Shiseido’s Advertising History: “Beauty Graphics Exhibition 2016 ’ONGOING’”


The 100th anniversary: a homage to the masterpieces of the past

--This is the third Beauty Graphics Exhibition to be held. What were your sentiments as you approached the creative work?

Kawahara:The objective of this exhibition is for Shiseido's creators to express the "image of feminine beauty for the next generation." In the past, the exhibition served as a space for young creators to get involved. However, this year, partly because it is the 100th anniversary of the Advertising and Design Department, four Art Directors who are currently in charge of Shiseido designs have taken up the challenge of creating the works.

--The word "ONGOING" in the title of the exhibition refers to something in the present progressive form, doesn't it?

Kawahara:We are creating works inspired by masterpieces that have left their mark on Shiseido's advertising history, and are proposing a new sense of beauty for the future. "ONGOING" incorporates the idea of how we as creators engage in design work in present progressive form, bridging the past to the present and into the future. It is an excellent title conceived by our copywriter, Asuka Hashiguchi. She has summarized the sentiments of all four of us in this one word.

--This means that you selected works from the advertisement archive to pay homage to, is that right?

Kawahara:The idea of "paying homage to works from the past" is an open concept that has been made possible only because Shiseido is a place with many creators. As it was, we already had respect for the great works left behind by our predecessors, and possessed the spirit to challenge ourselves to overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers.

Beauty Graphics Exhibition, currently on at the Shiseido Ginza Building
Display of Kataita's work, "Rouge," in the shop window

A woman is her lips: the expressive gradation

Paying homage to Shiseido's Lipstick advertisement (1964)

--I would like to ask about each of the works, beginning with the work by Mr. Kataita, which is also the main visual for the exhibition. The layers of huge acrylic plates with the design motif of a woman's lips certainly leave a strong impression, don't they?

Kataita:The work that I paid homage to was the "make-up Tokyo" advertisement for lipstick, launched in 1964. With a pure white back as well as prominent red lips and nails, it is an impressive design. This time, using the motif of lips covered in lipstick, I created gradations of dramatic red and used a layering effect to create a three-dimensional expression.

--The color of the lipstick is a really beautiful one. Why did you create a three-dimensional work for this exhibition?

Kataita:This was because I wanted to use the image of lips to bring out the unique expressions of a woman changing gradually over time. I thought that it might be interesting to split that into panels and layer them. Women have a truly rich and myriad range of expressions when they are placed in various situations. Their feelings and emotions at those points in time often emerge through their lips.

--Was it very difficult to print images of the women's lips photographed from different angles onto transparent acrylic plates while retaining the chroma of the colors?

Kataita:Since transparent acrylic transmits light, it is difficult to bring out the brilliance of the colors printed onto it, as compared to opaque white paper for example. Furthermore, the appearance of the colors is different when we see them on a single plate, and when we see them layered. I really struggled with that. I tried it out repeatedly on small plates and adjusted the hues, but I had only one chance to get it right when applying it to the actual plates measuring 2m×1m. Right up until the installation of the work, I felt really anxious about whether it would turn out beautifully.

"Rouge," which depicts a woman's lips using layers
Adjusting the hues on palm-sized acrylic plates leading up to the actual production

Women's inner beauty in their fingertips

--Ms. Kawahara, your work, titled "The Intentions of the Fingertips," comprises six pieces that are all photographs of the hand, right?

Kawahara:I paid homage to the "NATURAL GLOW" nail polish advertisement (1970s). I was attracted to the fresh and bold method of expressing the beauty of women through only their fingertips and legs, without showing their faces at all. This method is difficult to realize today, but I wanted to try recreating the advertisement with a modern take.

--What was the type of female beauty that you wanted to express here?

Kawahara:I wanted to express the multifaceted emotions that women hold in their hearts, such as playfulness, strong will, a small dose of hatred, the feeling of loving and cherishing something important, and their captivating charm. In these modern times, there is a tendency to emphasize only the beauty that is on the surface; however, the Advertising and Design Department of Shiseido has consistently valued inner beauty. I incorporated my admiration and respect for that spirit, and focused on the extent to which I could express these ideas through the fingertips. I hope that this strikes a chord with the inner feelings of whoever sees this.

--The props, such as fruits entwined with a woman's hands, also have a real sense of presence. How did you decide on the use of these props?

Kawahara:Since we wanted to shoot the photographs freely, I did not sketch any drafts, and gathered as many props as my budget allowed. Other than these props, there were also chess pieces and soap bubbles. I fine-tuned my photography concepts while observing the strongest expressions of the model's hidden inner consciousness revealed when she picked up the props during the shoot, and the motifs and poses that she adopted at that moment. Each cut took about one hour to shoot, but all the photographs that I eventually used were the first cuts! This caused uproar among those working on the site of the shoot (laughs).

Nail polish advertisement for NATURAL GLOW (1970s)
The work "The Intentions of the Fingertips" shows a world where the background and the skin color are harmonized with each other

A second life for illustrated advertisements from 50+ years ago

--Ms. Sakai, you focused on the illustrated advertisements (1926-1960) by designer Ayao Yamana, who created Shiseido's Hanatsubaki logo.

Sakai:The advertisements from this period contain a certain something that stirs the imagination of the viewer, despite the extremely minimal expressions adopted. Both today and in the past, women have always desired to become beautiful. I wanted to create a "distortion" of that slight addiction and devotion to beauty. For example, "EAU de Luxe" from 1960 was an advertisement for face lotion, so I superimposed the original illustration motif onto a photograph shot under water.

--You asked Fumi Nikaido to model for your work, right?

Sakai:To express the desire to become more beautiful, I needed the strong presence and expressive abilities of Ms. Nikaido. She was also motivated and eager to take on this shoot, so we were able to successfully create a story together while having fun in the process.

--This time, in addition to photography work, did you also prepare a video?

Sakai:I used cinemagraphs, in which only a small part of the photograph moves, such as the hands or the blink of an eye. A cinemagraph is created by transplanting part of a still image onto several seconds of animation captured on a digital camera. Although the movement lasts for only a few seconds, my intention was to use these subtle movements to stir the imagination of the people looking at the image, as if they were sneaking a look into the desires of Ms. Nikaido. The idea was to capture the image of something that is a little beyond, and a little into the depths of, the scenery that we see in our mind's eye. Furthermore, the images displayed on the latest LCD monitor (sponsored by EIZO Corporation) are very beautiful, so I hope that everyone is excited about watching the video.

Paying homage to the face lotion advertisement for EAU de Luxe (1960s/Top)
Paying homage to the face lotion advertisement for EAU de Luxe (1960s/Top)
The model shown wearing a hat in the advertisement for de Luxe milky lotion (1957/Top)
The model shown wearing a hat in the advertisement for de Luxe milky lotion (1957/Top)

The dignified women confronted by words

--Ms. Takaiso, the theme of your work is "Inside the Words." You seem to be shining the spotlight on typeface, which is a tradition of the Advertising and Design Department.

Takaiso:When I joined the company, I fell in love with the handwritten font called the "Shiseido typeface," and I wanted to give expression to its appeal. Paying homage to the illustrated advertisements of the 1930s, when advertisements still did not contain photographs, I used contemporary materials to depict the appearance of "words in the Shiseido style."

--How did you give modern expression to the "words" of the 1930s?

Takaiso:For example, the advertisement for mizu-oshiroi, liquid foundation from 1936 contained only text and an illustration of a woman and rippling lines. I recreated the copy ("Pure, Graceful, and Radiant") and the typeface using my own handwriting, and then converted it into a three-dimensional form. I employed a model to represent the woman. I used water to represent the waves, inserted the text mounted on an acrylic plate, and took the shoot. I tried my hardest to refrain from using CG, and remained committed to expressing my concept in a life-sized space.

--What kind of images did you incorporate into this idea of a woman who is confronted by words?

Takaiso:I wanted to create the image of women that is in sync with a world where the meaning of words is expressed in three-dimensional form. The image of women depicted by Shiseido is one of dignity, and of a sophisticated form. This is something that I want to preserve and bring to my work in the future.

The homage was paid to this advertisement for mizu-oshiroi, liquid foundation (1936)
The work that made use of the Shiseido typeface used in the advertisement for the mizu-oshiroi, liquid foundation
Takaiso writing by hand to recreate the typeface (Top), and the draft image of the work (Bottom)
Asuka Hashiguchi
Toyoki Kataita
Masato Kanazawa
Addiction to Beauty
Rie Sakai
Masato Kanazawa
Inside the Words
Keiko Takaiso
The Intentions of the Fingertips
Saiko Kawahara
Shotaro Ito
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