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Kitte designed by Hara Design Institute

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KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE, a play on the Japanese word “kitte” literally meaning “postage stamp” in English, is a new seven-floor restaurant and retail destination located in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district that opened its doors on March 21st, 2013. Housed within JP Tower—the site of the landmark central post office building—KITTE will play an instrumental role in revamping the historic area as the first commercial facility of the now privately held Japan Post company.

Guest Opinion written by Josh Nychuk

Kitte’s identity and signage system was developed by Hara Design Institute, a design think tank founded by renowned Japanese graphic designer, Kenya Hara. The Institute operates within the normal framework of a design office servicing clients alike, while placing equal importance on the Institute’s self-initiated projects. These non-commissioned projects originate from observations in society—typically produced in exhibition format—presenting their discoveries and possible solutions. The Institute’s clients include some of Japan’s most prominent organizations in the public and private sectors. With Mr Hara having been art director of Muji since 2001, and leading highly distinguished branding projects like Tsutaya Shoten bookstore Matsuya Ginza, and Umeda Hospital, the Hara Design Institute is perhaps one of the world’s most interesting companies working in design today.

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

With this project the institute have given careful consideration to how the symbol, logo and sign system unify into a single memorable image. This act plays out through a contrast of ideas, old and new, that begin with a single rectangular shape. This shape is lined up at regular intervals creating an image that references the tiles of the interior walls and symbolises the historic station building. The shapes dilate into a rhythmic pattern of red that create a type of static canvas for which the logo exists in. The complementary blue/green and red colour scheme once again symbolizes the post office while its vibrancy expresses the youthfulness of the new commercial facility.

The sign system nicely demonstrates the strength and flexibility of the visual identity. Its rhythm appropriately matching the tempo of the shapes found within the building’s architecture, neither dominating nor detracting from the visual environment. Functioning as both landmark and information architecture the signage blends seamlessly into the buildings historical context, while acting as a contemporary symbol to guide the building into a new era and purpose.

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

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KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

KITTE - Logo and sign system design by Hara Design Institute

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  • http://wwww.bpando.org/ Richard Baird

    This is a really nice find Josh, haven’t come across the Hara Design Institute before. I love the historical references and the way the logo-type’s vertical strokes contrast with the horizontal bricks of the exterior walls as well as conveying g a little of the more unusual and historical detailing on the interior.

    I do however think that while the logo-type works well within the context of the grid, outside the uneven letter-spacing perhaps places to much significance on the pairing of the KI and TT, and the isolation of the E.

  • Nychuk Design

    Thanks Richard, if your interested to learn more about Kenya Hara’s work
    I highly recommend his book Designing Design. It covers everything from
    his art direction with Muji, the Haptic exhibition, his philosophy on
    white, and the Exformation projects.

    I was also thinking about the letter-spacing in isolation, and at first considered that the colour scheme decision was possibly a means to balance out the colouring of the letter-forms, until learning these are the historic colours. In the white version of the sign the horizontal and diagonal strokes are lighter to help with the balance.