PEOPLEText: Akira Natsume

Observing the font boom amongst the young designers, one can tell that fonts are a very good mean to express the designers’ identity. Then, how about ‘patterns’? As there have been many different ‘patterns’ out there which were produced by many different designers in the past, it is no longer easy to create identical patterns and therefore to express designers’ originality with patterns. It was very interesting to see the camouflage pattern which was on in the last few years ‘iconised’ in a big stream of domestic youth culture. I guess the check and optical patterns exposed with Pizzicato Five, Groovisions and Olive can be the typical pattern of the times. In this pattern collection features 200 kinds of patterns which can be used for your desktop, artwork, christmas cards and so on.

Designings who produced the pattern collection consists of three members. It is based in Kyoto where Groovisions initially started their activity. They run a nationwide mailing list and publish a free paper, and it seems to be appearent that still a small but a new wave of graphic design is being given birth.

Can you tell me about designing’s background and how it started out?

It was ’96 we started designings. We were all big funs of Groovision and all had the similar taste in graphic design, music and fashion and so forth. At that time, I worked for an ordinary company and the other two were students. We just casually started designings’, we weren’t serious at all. the three members are; me, Ugata, Katayama and Fujiwara. We are all 22 years-old.

How was it is like being around the events organised by Groovisions in Kyoto?

I had known the name Groovequest because they compiled a jazz album and did some motion graphics for Pizzicato Five. But it was kind of a mysterious collective for us because we had no idea exactly what they were doing. I just guessed in my mind they’d wear a tight dark suit and tie, as they did the jazz album (laugh) But they weren’t like that. I had just come to Kyoto in the spring of ’96 (1), so I just joined only three events. It was around when Groovision web site was featured at Macromedia site, and there were a lot of people coming from all over the country to take part in the event. Also, I started connecting to the Internet and participated in Ape-ML (Cornelius’ mailing list) I got to know quite a lot of people through this mailing list, and some of them would often come to Kyoto to join the series of Groovisions’ events. Soulmates (2) also came to spin vinyls there. Then I first saw the video image produced by Groovisions, which completely blew my mind. It was very inteligent and fashionable, it wasn’t just cheesy, loud image like what i had expected. After getting to know all these people around Groovisions like Ako (who used to be a regular contributor of SHIFT), Gyuukubo (3) (publisher of a freepaper The Monsoon) as well as themselves, I launched Modernities Mailing List in autumn ’96. I wanted it to be like a design community for young people. The last Groovisions’ event in ’96 was really amazing as a big bunch of people came from all over Japan to Kyoto to get together. I thought it was kind of spectacular to see the people chatting and mingling with each other at the venue.

How has the Modernities ML been evolving since it started?

When we first started the ML, I think it was October ’96, many poeple joined it and talked about a variety of things, not only about design. It was really fun because so many people were into it at that time. But now it’s not as active as it used to be. actually you can say it’s been kind of hibernated for sometime.

Is it because so many people have taken part that noone can tell who’re in the ML?

Exactly. I had expected that It’d not be easy for so many to share one common objective. But I just couldn’t find a good way to work it out and keep it going. I’m thinking of organising things better for the ML. It’d be hard, though…

I know it’s been about 2 years since you got access to the Internet and maintained the web site. How do you feel now, and think about your future plans?

Not all people around us have access to the Internet at the moment. But I am sure more people will connected with each other through the net. Using the net and telephone very frequently, we’ve been working under SOHO system for a while. But I have found it not enough for our work… So the next target’d be our own office in Kyoto. Also, we want to explore new media and work on a diverse range of experimental projects.

Can you give me a word or two to conclude the interview?

This December we have just released the ‘pfm’ and the final issue of a freepaper which has been published for a long time. We have no specific projects in the near future, but will keep on working to create good designs steadily.

(1) The interviewee Ugata is not originally from Kyoto. After graduating from a fashion college in Tokyo, he moved to Kyoto.
(2) soulmates; A must. Exhibiting a exquisite piece at Click Art on Hotwired, they are active not only in interactive works but prints. Now that Groovisions is temporarily off the net, they are the next to come. They are going to have an event in Nagoya at the end of the year.
(3) The Monsoon issue 0 features the main article about Groovisions. Issue 1 is now on sale as well.

Text: Akira Natsume
Translation: Satoru Tanno

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