--I understand that you have been in charge of designing the limited-edition Valentine's Day packaging at SHISEIDO PARLOUR. Could you tell me about the background behind your design of exotic landscapes drawn in an elegant style?
Takeda: In the current Valentine's Day market, the trend is no longer just chocolate as a gift only for men, but demand for chocolate as a treat for oneself or so-called "friend chocolate" to be given to one's female friends has also been increasing. Until last year, SHISEIDO PARLOUR also focused mainly on products in a classical design, with the image of chocolate as a gift just for men. However, this year we took a leap and changed the direction of the design so that even women would think, "I want it!" With the "Merry Merry Elegant Valentine" concept, I wanted to create cheerful and beautiful packages.
--The theme for the package design this time is "A Journey in Search of Chocolate." The combination of the concepts of Valentine's Day and travel is quite innovative and fresh.
Takeda: The two potential ideas for the theme proposed by Ms. Kondo, our Art Director, were "forest" and "travel." Since glamorous visuals were a must, we had a discussion and established the backstory of "travelling around the world looking for extraordinarily delicious chocolate" for this year's design. This may be an unexpected theme from the viewpoint of the conventional custom of a valentine as an expression of love, but we wanted to express an elegance that would appeals to girls' hearts.
--There are various possible motifs for the concept of travel. How did you select from among all those options for this design?
Takeda: I have liked travelling since I was young, so I started digging through the photographs that I had taken on my past journeys. Sometimes I even used my own Instagram photographs as a motif, just as they were. While I also checked many photo books of world heritage sites and tourist attractions, the best images emerged from the landscapes that overlapped with my own memories of my fun travelling. That said, I did not design the visuals completely independent of the products. I selected the chocolates by matching the images of the journey to the product - for example, for the stone-paved streets of Munich I picked a tile-shaped chocolate, for the rugged shape of the rocky mountains in Switzerland I picked a rocher ("rock"), and for a tropical beach resort I picked a citrus-flavored melee ("pebbles").
--The "Chocolat Variés 2016: Chercher du Chocolat" in the three-layered jubako box that looks as if it was a jewelry box is precisely the sort of thing that would tickle a girl's heart.
Takeda: As the price of that product is quite high, I assume that it will probably be chosen as a special gift for the purchaser herself. It might require a certain amount of courage to purchase it for a man (laugh). This is the only product that I did not design based on places that had I actually visited but by referencing photographs of a balloon from Turkey. The world map on the back of the package is intended to produce a feeling of excitement, as if one is actually going on a journey across the whole world.
--Did you make any new discoveries during your communication with SHISEIDO PARLOUR?
Takeda: I sensed that what the design team considers and the judgment of what actually sells on site are different. Since I usually specialize in advertisements, this was my first time working on a packaging project. In advertisement design, the creation of an appealing image is absolutely top priority, whereas in package design the design itself becomes a part of the product purchased by the customer.
Engaging in design work by thinking of the people who will pick up the product enabled me to reflect back on the feeling of delivering my thoughts to each individual customer, and I personally made many new discoveries. I finally gained the chance to work on a packaging project after requesting it for several years, so it is as though I put all my energy into this project. Incidentally, I hand-drew all of the illustrations myself.
--You drew everything yourself? Between the design and the illustration, I imagine that it must have been a considerable amount of work.
Takeda: I did everything myself, from the sketching to the preparation of the block copy. I don't think that I have ever drawn that many pictures since I graduated from university. As those were images that I had dug out from my memories of previous journeys, I could feel the excitement of remembering "that landscape I saw was so beautiful!" and I think therefore I was able to give this challenging work my best. I might not have been able to complete the project only using photographs of the so-called "magnificent views" of world heritage sites.
--Other than the Valentine's Day packaging, were there any other projects that were possible specifically because you are a graphic designer, or did you have any strong preferences for one project in particular?
Takeda: In terms of visual communication, I put most of my effort into the presentation of a consistent "worldview." When running a campaign on the internet, if you don't have main visual image that can speak to the quality of a product, its charm is unlikely to be understood, even if there is a lovely package design. On the basis of this understanding, we've created for the first time a key visual for a PR designed to play on SNS and other websites. We have also updated the store's shopping bag from a simple traditional design to a quality-conscious bag with a special feel to it. Package design is not my field of specialty, but in terms of considering the communication of the entire project rather than taking into account only the product, I believe that it was meaningful that a graphic designer who can express a certain worldview was in charge of the project.